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Lent reflection: Holy Week - God's spirit is alive and active

JohnDicksonAndChaplaincyStaffNina Strenna


We take another look together at the Rector Major's Strenna 'Holiness for you too', as we continue to seek holiness around us and within us during Holy Week. Our closing thoughts for Lent 2019 come from Fr John Dickson SDB, who considers the holiness he sees as a University Chaplain. (Fr John pictured above with Chaplaincy colleague, Nina).


One of our Muslim students once said to me: Where you find ‘goodness’, follow it!

Indeed in my seven years at Royal Holloway, I have been blessed to find both ‘goodness and holiness’ in abundance among so many students and staff in the apparently unlikely atmosphere of a prevailingly secular University.

I have found ‘Goodness and holiness’ in young people for whom ‘fairness and honesty’ demands ‘transparency’ in dealing with others. ‘Goodness and holiness’ is evident in young people who have the courage to seek for the truth even though it may be unpopular and who are prepared to challenge the prevailing view. It shines in young people who generously share their enterprises and develop those with disability or who are in difficulty. It is clear in young people who volunteer to help others when it is massively inconvenient for themselves; in young people who help friends who get into difficulty by referring them to staff who can help; In young people who develop their faith by building a community that prays and plays together.

You find these young people among believers and non-believers, among the Catholics and Protestants, among Jews and Muslims, among Hindus and Sikhs. God’s spirit is alive and active and I feel blessed to witness it every day.


Fr John Dickson SDB
Multifaith Chaplaincy
Royal Holloway University of London


Fr Ángel on the Strenna

There are many paths along the road to holiness


We know that some are saints, but we never know who is holier than another. Only God knows our hearts. There is a special beauty in each one. One should not ask of someone what he or she cannot and should not give. Saying this is encouraging, healthy. Otherwise we would convince ourselves that we cannot become saints because we shall never be like the saints who have been proposed to us as models. … Christian heroism is not heroics; Christian perfection is not the perfection of the superhero.


With Don Bosco we meet not only Dominic Savio, John Massaglia, and Francis Besucco, but also Michael Magone and many other difficult boys whose stories are characterized by deep wounds.

In the first foundations of the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are to be found the first real orphanages and people of various kinds who have been victims of injustice and trauma (Charles Braga, Laura Vicuña, et al.).


Then there are those with particular personal wounds: such as Beltrami or Czartoryski, who knew that they would never be able to lead a regular oratorian life because of their illness. Artemides Zatti was rejected from the priesthood, also because of sickness. Francis Convertini showed very modest intellectual gifts, and it was only his outstanding holiness that convinced the superiors to allow him to continue toward the priesthood. Alexandrina Maria da Costa was confined to bed with a progressive paralysis.


Thus in Don Bosco’s house there is room and welcome for a whole variety of those wounded in all sorts of ways by sorrowful family or personal events; people who, according to the normal criteria of human prudence or efficiency, should never have been accepted; people who at a cursory glance seem to be completely at odds with the joyful and even “robust” vivacity of the Salesian spirit. Yet in the light of faith the facts show that no personal situation constitutes an impediment to holiness.



James 1: 12-18

Blessed is anyone who perseveres when trials come. Such a person is of proven worth and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Never, when you are being put to the test, say, 'God is tempting me'; God cannot be tempted by evil, and he does not put anybody to the test.

Everyone is put to the test by being attracted and seduced by that person's own wrong desire.

Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches full growth, it gives birth to death.

Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers: all that is good, all that is perfect, is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change.

By his own choice he gave birth to us by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all his creation.





This Holy Week, we think of your journey to Calvary,

Yet you always walk with us as we deal with our own trials.

Give us courage to seek the truth, and to overcome our difficulties.

Show us how to find joy in helping others.

Reveal to us our own path to holiness.



Last modified on Tuesday, 02 April 2019 11:42


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