Leaven Magazine

‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened.’


'The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened.'

Leaven is a bimonthly digital magazine mainly for and by young Catholics in Ireland, providing readers with thought-provoking material from a range of voices, talking about everything, and holding to what is true. Bringing a spiritual lens to the world, we aim to showcase a coherently and distinctly Irish Catholic vision that is kind and thoughtful, honest and faithful, balanced, relevant, and fresh. We are firmly committed to getting beyond stereotypes and stale talking points, highlighting that smart, young, curious, compassionate people – and especially women! – are integral to our Church, and helping their voices be heard. Leaven is for anyone who wants to grow a genuine living faith in their own life and become a leaven for Ireland and the world.

Each issue will explore a mix of topics from science to literature, pop culture to social justice, history to philosophy and beyond. The first issue is available from Holy Thursday, 1 April, under the editorship of Greg Daly, formerly of The Irish CatholicAleteia, and Catholic Voices.

Volume 1 Issue 1

Leaven Magazine


From the Editor

Greg Daly reflects on the fifteen-month path to creating the first issue of Leaven, explaining how important it was to be confronted with hard questions and what we hope to achieve by creating a distinctively Irish and outward-looking religious magazine, as catholic – small c –  in its contents as it is Catholic – big C –  in its vision. Crucial to this, he says, is helping to build up new and fresh Catholic voices who can invigorate Irish Christianity and contribute to Irish life more generally.


Interview: A Revolutionary Myth

Having recently begun work on his third popular history of ancient Rome, Tom Holland tells Leaven of the brutality and cruelty of Roman life, and how it took a slow Christian revolution to transform the west. Pointing to how the likes of feminism and the civil rights movement were rooted in Christian concepts, he argues that religious illiteracy is becoming a threat to western civilization, with today’s cultural conflicts typically being clashes between Christian values that have lost their moorings, and says where values are involved, leaps of faith can be necessary.


Hearing God in the Silence and Darkness

The novels of Shūsaku Endō present a vision of divine hope amongst human failure, writes Niamh White. While human suffering and failure lie form the landscape of the Japanese author’s writings, Endō makes clear that divine hope lies amidst the swamps and darknesses of apparent disaster and even apostasy. His novels, Niamh writes, show the capacity of the frail and weak to return to Christ after abandoning him, and of those who had fallen to recognise God in suffering and failure.


Interview: Heavens that tell the Glory of God

The so-called ‘Vatican Astronomer’ Bro. Guy Consolmagno tells Leaven about how the Vatican Observatory is a concrete example of the Church’s commitment to science, his own path to working there, and the value of the observatory’s work. Encouraged by changes in the fields of astronomy and planetary sciences over recent decades, he reflects on the dangers of thinking one has all the answers – whether in science or religion – and looks to how divisions between scientific and religious worldviews can be bridged.


Not by Bread Alone

Listings for April Mass readings are accompanied by Fr Columba McCann’s reflections on the readings for the Second Sunday of Easter. The Glenstal monk describes this resurrection gospel as being like a magnificent painting, glowing with allusions to creation, and highlighting Christ’s ability to step into our doubts, healing even the darkest of situations. Writing of how unthinkable the Resurrection would have been for the very first Christians, he observes that the slow transformation embracing the reality of Christ’s resurrection can bring about in our lives.


1916: Revisited

Five years on since Ireland commemorated the centenary of the Easter Rising, Greg Daly considers the ongoing failure of religion’s role in the Irish revolution to gain a foothold in our public narratives. Pondering the suppression of religious faith from Ireland’s current nationalist hagiographies, he notes how the Easter Proclamation has an exalted place in our modern understanding of the Irish revolution, despite it seemingly mattering far less to the ordinary men and women of the revolutionary period than their religious faith and practice.


Putting Evil in Proportion

An ancient fresco in a Roman church run by Irish Dominicans features a remarkable depiction of Christ in Hell on Holy Saturday, writes Sr Carino Hodder, who notes the smallness and pettiness of the Devil in the image, one that stands in stark contrasts to later depictions of Hell where extensive infernal landscapes are dominated by monstrous demons and gigantic renderings of Satan. Reflecting on these images, she contends, can help us immensely in how we understand evil and the saving power of Christ.


The Sword of the Spirit

Pentecost is a Christian feast that’s too often absent from how we look at the Church year, with precious little presence in wider society, but in the Middle Ages its centrality was clear, Rachel Sherlock says, with its importance enshrined in the stories of King Arthur, whose knights swore a Pentecostal oath and whose story shows how a Pentecostal community can be built but cannot transform sinful natures into loving ones without the grace of the Spirit, while testifying to the possibility of such transformations.


Parlour Games in the Jury Room

Bored on jury service some years ago, Maolsheachlann Ó Ceallaigh was delighted to find himself playing Hangman with his fellow jurors, only to wonder why we seem less and less reliant nowadays on our own reserves of stories, games, poems, and songs to entertain ourselves, preferring to consume ready-made entertainment from others than to trust in our own stores of memory and creativity.


Not by Bread Alone

Listings for May Mass readings are accompanied by Sr Eleanor Campion’s reflections on Ascension Day. The Glencairn Abbey Cistercian sister ponders how the Ascension was grappled with and recorded by early Christians, struggling as they were to convey the reality they had witnessed and experienced, with St Paul especially bringing home how Christians are not simply followers of Christ, let alone people who adhere to the teachings of a historical figure, but are in fact Christ’s body here on earth.


Round Table: Catholic Social Teaching

CST, the extensive body of Church doctrine that deals with how society can be better ordered for the good of individual human beings and the good of humanity as a whole, speaks to everything from the economy and the environment to workers’ rights and migration. Despite this, it remains something widely misunderstood if people are aware of it at all. Editor Greg Daly speaks to five thinkers on the subject – economist Tony Annett, theologians Kevin Hargaden and Theodora Hawskley, apologist Mark Shea, and Dominican priest Fr Pat Desmond – to explore where CST comes from, what it offers the world, and how it might become better known.


Against Political Fashions

Attitudes to immigration have shifted over recent years among Catholics on the political right, Ben Conroy observes, arguing that the issues at work in the debate haven’t significantly changed, or at least haven’t changed in ways that should dismay Catholics. Instead what have shifted, he says, are the winds of political fashion. Tribalism and desires for novelty can hugely influence how we react to the trends and cues of the political moment, distracting us from the enduring values by which we’re called to navigate our world.


Liturgical Living

Unless all our days blend into one as they so easily can in these pandemic times, we tend to live our days liturgically, paying homage through the year to what matters most in our lives whether that be the academic calendar, the sporting calendar, entertainment schedules, or even seasonal food. Maria Connolly maps out ways in which the Easter season and the Marian month can be embraced in our home lives, and admits to some ways they probably shouldn’t!


Interview: Shoots Grown from Roots

Carlow’s Julianne Stanz, now Director of Parish Life and Evangelisation  at the US diocese of Green Bay, tells Leaven how recognising God’s movement in our lives is key to Christian mission, and describes how focusing on the absolute essence of Christianity offers the best and truest way to sharing the Faith . Advising parishes to focus on what they can do and what bears fruit, she points to an emphasis on relationships – with God and with each other within communities – as vital if parish renewal is to succeed.


Mercy’s Appalling Strangeness

In a time of doubt, with Christian assumptions less and less consciously part of our mental worldviews, it seems that films based on the novels of Graham Greene are especially challenging to make. And yet, Ronan Doheny suspects, films based on those tortured, anxious, hopeful novels may be just what the world needs nowadays, with several classic films already existing as conduits to Greene’s doubting vision, his insights into humanity, and his uncomfortable reminders that even if we give up on God, God does not give up on us.


Review: Peering into our Pagan Past

Devotees of ancient Ireland can rave about the spirituality of our pagan ancestors, but as Fr Conor McDonough points out, almost everything we know or think we know about what our pre-Christian forebears thought is visible to us only through a profoundly Christian lens. A new study of salvation and history in medieval Irish writers, however, takes Christianity seriously and pays the Irish of the Middle Ages the courtesy of serious engagement, rather than seeing them simply as steps to an imagined past.


Running on Vibes in the Caucasus

It was a shock to Philadelphian Clare Coffey to move to the edge of Europe only to discover just how much Georgians loved their cars, but living in the Caucasus also saw her experiencing a way of life where horses are working companions for working people.  Learning to ride proved a revelation, a way of moving that’s personal and grounded in the moments we live in, an antidote to a disassociated world.

Leaven Magazine Cover
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Covering topics as broad as the universe...

A video introduction to Leaven Magazine presented by editor Greg Daly.

Curated Events

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Music for Galway and Galway 2020
Arvo Pärt, Passio

Concert: Pärt’s setting of the St. John Passion featuring Galway’s most well-known players alongside some of the brightest young Irish singers emerging on the European scene.

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TCD Long Room

Online Seminar: Haunted Heaney: The Bog Poems, Dr Ian Hickey (Mary Immaculate College)

TCD Long Room Hub
Tuesday 6 April, 4pm
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Eucharist in art

Online Lecture: The Eucharist in Art: Visualizing Mystery, Dr Elizabeth Lev

Lumen Christi Institute
Saturday 10 April, 8pm
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