Ruth Burrows is a Carmelite sister, a follower of Teresa of Avila, who lives in their convent in Quidenham, in Norfolk. She had written that ‘faith in Jesus is very, very rare’, by which I took her to mean not so much the intellectual assent to a God and to Jesus as the Son of God, but the kind of faith which allows Jesus, and the Gospel of Jesus, to take hold of our lives. That is the faith that Ruth Burrows says is ‘very, very rare’. For too many of us, faith, like much else in life, is compromised.
It was with those challenging words ringing in my ears that during my retreat I met someone. Now that someone has been dead for sixty-five years now, but so vivid was the story that I read that it became something of a personal encounter. You’ll probably know from your own experience how that can happen. I like reading biographies of other Jesuits, I like reading about what it was that gave them life. So I picked up this biography of a man whose name I had heard often but about whom I knew precious little and I was fascinated by what I read.