Monday, 14 December 2015

Pope Francis Selfie OFFICIAL!

The Pope has finally taken his first official selfie! Instagram has gone mad over the first official papal, self taken shot.

It isn't his first involvement with a selfie and many people, particularly the young have taken a snap with him:

However the selfie has universal appeal with this Christmas jumper selling out in super quick time:

Are you celebrating Christmas with a selfie?

Sunday, 13 December 2015

SHoM Christmas Charities 2015

It has been decided to split the money from:
  • Non-uniform day
  • Carol Service retiring collection
  • Staff Christmas cards (for new staff: many staff donate to charity instead of sending individual cards, please send money to Finance office)
  • RE fundraising lessons

 The money will be divided equally between four charities:
  • Little Angels Trust – supporting children in the UK and Ghana suffering from cancer (working in partnership with GOSH)
  • Text Santa – ITV’s annual charity appeal
  • Crisis – supporting the homeless on the streets of the UK
  • Newman Catholic School in Carlisle – A school that has been devastated by the recent flooding and is appealing for help to rebuild

Friday, 11 December 2015

A Prayer From Santa to Jesus

I'm never sure how Father Christmas and Jesus can be fully reconciled... Here's an attempt. What do you think?

My dear precious Jesus, I did not mean to take your place,
I only bring toys and things and you bring love and grace.
People give me lists of wishes and hope that they came true;
But you hear prayers of the heart and promise your will to do.

Children try to be good and not to cry when I am coming to town;
But you love them unconditionally and that love will abound.
I leave only a bag of toys and temporary joy for a season;
But you leave a heart of love, full of purpose and reasons.

I have a lot of believers and what one might call fame;
But I never healed the blind or tried to help the lame.
I have rosy cheeks and a voice full of laughter;
But no nail—scarred hands or a promise of the hereafter.

You may find several of me in town or at a mall;
But there is only one omnipotent you, to answer a sinner’s call.
And so, my dear precious Jesus, I kneel here to pray;

To worship and adore you on this, your holy birthday.

Source: Unknown

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Charleston: A Tale of Reconcilliation

Charleston Church Reopens <source>

On the evening of June 17, 2015, a mass shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States. The church is one of the United States' oldest black churches and has long been a site for community organization around civil rights. Nine people were killed, including the senior pastor and state senator, Clementa C. Pinckney. A tenth person was shot and survived.

Police arrested a white suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in Shelby, North Carolina the morning after the attack. <link>

The shooter wanted to start a race war, dividing the United States. However the way the community reacted has been the complete opposite:

Firstly the victims, the families of those killed, spoke to the killer:

Then a UK based teacher, asked a friend to document what has been happening in Charleston, with the result being a powerful witness to reconciliation:

Watch the first full sermon from the church where the shooting took place:

The community of Charleston singing, "We Shall Overcome" together:

Friday, 19 June 2015

Laudato Si: Key Things To Know

Image courtesy of The Independent

The long awaited encyclical on the environment has arrived! Pope Francis has released Laudato Si, an encyclical on the environment on 18th June 2015.

This video has ten key points from the document:

1- What is an encyclical?
Considered one of the weightiest forms of papal writing, an encyclical takes the form of a letter, usually addressed to members of the Catholic Church but sometimes also to society at large. A pontiff typically expands on some teaching of the Catholic faith, pointing out errors that could threaten the faithful’s understanding of Catholic doctrine or suggesting possible solutions to global problems.

2- How many encyclicals has Pope Francis written?
Pope Francis has published two encyclicals: “Lumen Fidei” (“Light of Faith”), released in 2013, and now “Laudato Si’” (“Be Praised”). However, the former was largely the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, so the latter is the first to express Pope Francis’ distinctive teaching.

3- Why has this encyclical received so much attention?
No previous pope has devoted an entire encyclical to the environment. Moreover, Pope Francis has said he wants it to “make a contribution” to a Paris summit on climate change at the end of this year. The pope’s huge popularity and moral suasion means his stance could influence the debate.

4- What does the encyclical say about climate change?
Pope Francis calls global warming a major threat to life on the planet and says it is mainly caused by human activity. He argues there is an “urgent” need for policies that reduce carbon emissions, among other ways, by “substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”

5- What other topics does the encyclical address?
It highlights the depletion of clean water and the loss of biodiversity. The 183-page encyclical includes an extensive section on Catholic theology of creation and critiques of economic globalization and consumer culture. Emphasizing his signature theme of economic justice, Pope Francis focuses on the unequal social effects of environmental problems on the “most vulnerable people on the planet.”
Published in the WSJ <here>

Here are a few key quotes:

On waste - The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.

On the extinction of species - Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.

On God’s love - The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.

More found <here> in the Catholic Herald

Laudato Si'

CAFOD have also produced some great resources:
  • The news / campaigning section has some further information and actions <here>
  • There is also a whole encylical section including activities for students <here>

Friday, 12 June 2015

Pope Francis: Laudato Sii is coming!

The encyclical, to be published June 18, is titled “Laudato Sii” (“Praised Be”), the first words of St Francis’ “Canticle of the Creatures.”. Here is a video that introduces in a light-hearted but informative way.

"The encyclical is not expected to be a theological treatise or a technical document about environmental issues, but a pastoral call to change the way people use the planet’s resources so they are sufficient not only for current needs, but for future generations, observers said." (Source <here>)

Do you think the Vatican can help save the environment? Why will some people disagree with it? (Think money!) Do you think Catholics will make an extra effort to take care of the environment? Why? How is this biblically based?

Monday, 27 April 2015

#shomRE Twitter #REvision

From Tuesday 28th April there will #shomRE #REvision taking place on Twitter. Questions will appear daily as follows:
  • 4pm - a 4 mark Part B question
  • 6pm - a 6 mark Part D question
  • 8pm - an 8 mark Part C question
  • 10pm - a revision video

In the first run of tweets, the following topics will be covered:
  • Tuesday 28th - 3.1 - Believing in God
  • Wednesday 29th - 3.2 - Matters of Life and Death
  • Thursday 30th - 3.3 – Marriage and the Family
  • Friday 1st - 3.4 – Religion and Community Cohesion
  • Saturday 2nd - 10.1 – Beliefs and Values
  • Sunday 3rd - 10.2 – Community and Tradition
  • Monday 4th - 10.3 – Worship and Celebration
  • Tuesday 5th - 10.4 – Living the Christian Life
Make sure you are following Mr Lewis @TalkingDonkeyRE

Check all the #shomRE tweets <here> - remember if you miss a question you can always go back and find it!

"Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and he spoke to Balaam" - Numbers 22:28

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

How To Revise (Radio 1)

Image courtesy of BBC

Revision is vital; it is one of the most important skills you will develop in school. Those who are put time and effort into working out to revise effectively often do well in exams. Radio 1, 1Xtra and BBC Bitesize, with the help of Clara Amfo, have teamed up to help you beat The Fog by improving your memory, no matter what exams you’re taking. These 3 shorts videos will help you whatever exams you are taking...

Friday, 17 April 2015

How to Prepare For Your Exams

Image courtesy of Pete on Flickr

How do you prepare for your exams? This is vitally important. Thankfully the legendary Mr McMillan has produced a video to help. Many RE students will be familiar with his RE revision videos and podcast (<here> and <here>) which are absolutely excellent. 

This video is useful for all exams though:

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Bible in 16 Verses?

Image courtesy of Ryk Neethling on Flickr

A common reason for not reading the Bible is that it is too long. Particularly the Old Testament. 66 books that talk about Creation, the history of the People of God, songs of praise and much much more. It is easy to see it as a series of different stories, by different authors about different things. The New Testament then takes through the life of Jesus, the growth of the early Church and takes us to Judgement Day. 

Author Chris Bruno has attempted to "piece the jigsaw together" and put the OT and NT into just 16 verses... 11 of the Old Testament and 5 of the New Testament. Can this really do the Bible justice? (See his book <here>).

His selections for the OT rely heavily on Genesis...

1. Genesis 1:31
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2. Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

3. Genesis 3:6-7
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

4. Genesis 3:15
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

5. Genesis 12:2-3
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

6. Genesis 49:10
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

7. Exodus 12:23
For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

8. 2 Samuel 7:12-13
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

9. Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

10. Ezekiel 37:3-5
And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”

11. Isaiah 65:17
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

Read his justification <here>

The NT article is <here>

Do you agree with his selection? Is it possible to reduce the whole Old Testament to just 11 verses? Is this a useful starting point? What else would you have included?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Flame 2 (2015)

Thirteen students and two staff from Sacred Heart of Mary Girls' School went on the minibus to the Flame 2 conference at Wembley Arena on Saturday 7th March 2015. A few students wrote about their experiences...

"I went to Flame 2 on the 7th March 2015, and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. That whole day was action packed and ranged from performances with Matt Redmond to Flame 2 Dancers, Flame is a fun and effective way to deepen your faith, whilst being amongst thousands of other young people. I personally would say that there was not a dull moment and I would definitely go again if I got the chance to attend Flame 3. I myself before going to Flame 2 would have said that I did not have a strong faith but after attending Flame 2, I can honestly say it has strengthened and enhanced my faith in God. If I had to choose a favourite part, I would say the shout out to our school and Miss Laverty and Mr Lewis from Gilly Hope at Flame 2 SSE Arena and the moving closing prayer at the end, as it gave all of us a moment to relax and to personally reflect of everything we had previously heard and seen at Flame 2. I think people should go to Flame 3 in 2 year’s time as it will honestly strengthen your faith and develop your understanding of Christianity, it will open your eyes to the events currently operating around the world, how you can help and most importantly attending a Flame Conference will allow you take away something that is so special; a stronger relationship with God." - Y12 Student 

"On Saturday 7th March 2015, I went to Flame2 and had a really great day. I had never been to an event like this before but I found it a really inspiring and very enjoyable experience. It wasn’t what I expected at all, there was quite a lot of music from the very talented Matt Redman and speakers such as Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle really made me think and were very entertaining. The highlight of the day would be, aside from the lively music, when we convinced my friend to try on a CAFOD heart costume and talk to the volunteer about why they chose to get involved in charity work. Also, after the event, we got a picture with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. I would advise anyone to definitely attend Flame 3 because it is a great way of talking to new people who are part of the same community as you and finding out more about them. Flame 2 was a great experience for me and I would just like to thank Mr Lewis and Miss Laverty for taking us there and to everyone who made the day possible." - Y10 Student

To be updated as students email in their reflections.

Read a report from ICN <here>

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Y9 Assessment 3: Life in the Spirit

Image courtesy of Propaganda for Change blog from a BHA campaign


Secular humanists, who do not believe in God, frequently wish to identify God as the problem. Use your knowledge of the gifts of God’s Spirit to write a letter as a Christian to the British Humanist Association to explain that ‘God is not the problem in the world but a gift to be discovered’. 

Think about the following to help you write the article:
  • Describe and show understanding of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. [L4] 
  • Explain how the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit relate to everyday life. [L5] 
  • Analyse the consequences of this for different people. Show understanding of the secular humanists’ view. [L6] 
  • Give your own opinion, carefully backed up with evidence. Consider another opinion and explain why you disagree with it. [L7]
Humanism is a philosophical and ethical belief that emphasises the value of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over faith.

We work on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical lives on the basis of reason and humanity. We promote Humanism, a secular state, and equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief. Our celebrants provide non-religious funeral, wedding, and naming ceremonies.

Why is a religion seen as a 'problem'?

  • Things reduced to "faith" and "religious mystery" rather than rational thought.
  • Religion as a cause for evil and suffering... oppression of groups within society.
  • Can stop clear scientific thought and investigation.
  • No God is a simpler explanation! 

BHA Campaigns:


Do religions not cause problems in society?


Can religions not help in society?

Monday, 23 February 2015

SHoM Mission Week: The Speakers

Image courtesy of Geograph 

This week we are very fortunate that we have managed to arrange a wide variety of speakers and guests who have come to share their personal reflection on Mission Week theme "Life to the Full"
  • Scripture Union have set up a prayer space in G1 and classes are visiting to experience different ways to pray. 
  • Hamish McQueen is the Youth Service Director for the Diocese of East Anglia. Find out more about Ignite, the EA youth team <here> 
  • John Green from the Apostleship of the Sea. Find out more about them <here>
  • Steve Murray is an internationally recognised Christian mime artist. Find out more about him <here>
  • John Battle was the MP for Leeds West 1987-2010 and first director of Church Action on Poverty. Find out more about him <here>

Friday, 6 February 2015

Y8 Assessment 2: The Mass

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Write an formal letter to someone you know who no longer goes to Mass on Sundays.

  • Explain what you now understand about the Eucharist.
  • How it has challenged and/or helped you to appreciate what happens at Mass.
  • Make some suggestions that you think might encourage this person to return to Mass.

Think about the following to help you answer the question:

  • Describe some of the actions of the Mass. [L3]
  • Give some examples of specific parts of the Mass and explain why they are important. [L4]
  • Explain some of the misunderstandings or confusions about what happens during the Mass.
  • Highlight the Catholic teaching and beliefs about the Mass. How could you encourage someone to return to Mass? [L5]
  • Give your own opinion, carefully backed up with evidence, about the challenges of the Eucharist. Explain why Mass is something to be appreciated. Consider the opinions of others. [L6]
  • Reference to scripture, Catechism etc. [L7]


Monday, 2 February 2015

Stephen Fry calls God an 'evil, capricious, monstrous maniac'

Image courtesy of The Telegraph 

Outspoken atheist Stephen Fry created headlines this week as he described God as 'evil, capricious, monstrous maniac' on an Irish TV interview:

This has echoes of the 18th century atheist David Hume who claimed evil and suffering as "the rock of atheism".

However the response from Christians has already begun....

Giles Fraser wrote a response to Fry. He concludes:

Simply put: there is no such thing as the God he imagines. It is the flying teapot orbiting a distant planet about which nothing can be said. Such a God doesn’t exist. Nilch. Nada. It’s a nonsense. Indeed, as no less an authority than Thomas Aquinas rightly insists, existence itself is a questionable predicate to use of God. For God is the story of human dreams and fears. God is the shape we try to make of our lives. God is the name of the respect we owe the planet. God is the poetry of our lives. Of course this is real. Frighteningly real. Real enough to live and die for even. But this is not the same as saying that God is a command and control astronaut responsible for some wicked hunger game experiment on planet earth. Such a being does not exist. And for the precisely the reasons Fry expounds, thank God for that. [Read more <here>]

Russell Brand has uploaded this:

Fr Ed Tomlinson has written an extensive post on his blog:

For it is obvious from your emotional response that you actually hold life to be precious. Your rage at the worm suggests you see something infinitely precious in humanity that makes it worthy of dignity, protection and care. Good for you! Christians agree and include you in that number. But Stephen….

…why rail against God if you don’t believe in him? I cannot imagine getting cross with a creature I believed mythical, say a unicorn or pixie! No, the emotion you display is only rationally, surely, if delivered to a living agent you do suspect might just be there.

Perhaps then it is not that you disbelieve in God, so much as feel anger towards him and what you think he has revealed? If so I urge you to look again and see not only our grot but also our glory. For there must clearly be something of value in a Catholic church that has lasted two thousand years, which comprises 1.4 billion members and which has outlived every regime that ever sought to destroy it. [Read more <here>]

Another response from Justin Brierley:

Do you think Stephen Fry has put forward a rational and balanced argument? Do you agree with Russell Brand that Stephen Fry has 'missed something'? How about Fr Ed Tomlinson's response, is Fry closer to theism than he realises? Did David Hume get it right several hundred years ago or is there a theodicy that allows suffering AND God to exist? 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Y9 Assessment 2 (2015 onwards): Greed

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

Your second assessment focus on the Gospel messages related to greed and wealth.

“A few peoples’ greed leaves millions in need.”

Write a feature article for the Financial Times with this headline.

Think about the following to help you write the article:
Describe and show understanding of Christian teaching on greed and helping those in need including quotes and references to scripture. [L4]
Explain what Jesus asks of all Christians and demonstrate different responses to this. [L5]
Analyse the consequences of these responses for different people. [L6]
Give your own opinion, carefully backed up with evidence. Consider another opinion and explain why you disagree with it. [L7]

Useful Bible passages
  • Luke 06:24-25 (woe to rich & fed)
  • Luke 12:15-21 (rich fool parable)
  • Luke 16:19-31 (rich man & lazarus)
  • Mark 10:23-24 / Luke 18:24-25 (camel & needle)
  • Matt 06:19-21 (treasures in heaven)
  • Matt 06:24 / Luke 16:13 (god & money)
Bible Quotes on greed <here>

Remember to select the ones you think you can explain and show that you understand

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Pope Francis' Resolutions for 2015

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Last year saw a 'Top 10' list of resolutions put together from various things Pope Francis has said over the year, see <here>. However this year, in his Christmas address to Vatican employees, who are mostly lay people with families, he asked them to do 10 things. 

The list sounded to many remarkably like a list of suggestions for New Year’s resolutions:
  1. "Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
  2. “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”
  3. “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
  4. "Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”
  5. “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
  6. "Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
  7. “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”
  8. “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
  9. “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”
  10. "Making sure your Christmas is about Jesus and not about shopping."
What are your new year resolutions? Have you broken them yet? Do you think these are just for Catholic or do they have universal appeal?

See <here> for more info