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Scots Catholic

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Jesus brings great hope, even in death

Posted on June 3, 2016 at 9:29 AM Comments comments (0)

Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 7:1-17):

‘Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.’


The miracle performed by Jesus in this Gospel passage is one of great hope.  The woman, a widow, had lost her only son.  Can you imagine the grief and sorrow that this woman must have been experiencing?  Can you imagine how alone she must have felt watching her only family being carried away for burial?  She must have felt that nothing could take away the extreme pain that was now drilling through her heart.  Yet moments later she would witness the resurrection of her son from the dead.  Just when all had seemed to be lost, along came Jesus. 


We must never lose hope when death comes knocking at our door.  Whilst it is perfectly natural for us to grieve and to feel sorrow when a loved one dies, we must always have confidence in the one who makes all things new.  Jesus’ death on the Cross was not a pointless exercise.  It was necessary so that our sins could be wiped away and we could have eternal life. 


When your loved one dies, remember that Jesus is there.  He has come down from the Cross and is standing ready at the gates of Paradise, waiting to put his hand on your loved one, waiting to bring them back to life.

Scottish Government recognises value of the unborn child

Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:07 AM Comments comments (0)
Nicola Sturgeon appreciating the beauty of new life


It is wonderful to hear Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announce that, from Spring 2017, all pregnant women will receive free vitamins in order to help give their children the best possible start in life.


In addition to making vitamins freely available the Scottish Government will also be introducing the following initiatives:

  • Every newborn baby to receive a ‘baby box’ of essential items

  • 500 more health visitors will be recruited to improve child health and wellbeing

  • The Family Nurse Partnership to be extended to support teenage mothers

  • Childcare will be doubled to 30 hours per week for all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds


Ms Sturgeon said that “every child deserves a fair and equal chance and offering all pregnant women vitamins sends a strong signal that, right from the very start of life, we are doing all we can to help.  There is strong evidence that taking vitamins in pregnancy improves both the mother and baby’s health and providing free vitamins, to all pregnant women, has the widespread support of healthcare professionals.”


Any government policy which seeks to assist women in pregnancy to look after both themselves and their baby must be welcomed.  It is a positive step by the Scottish government and it is hoped that many people will benefit from the new initiatives.


The introduction of free vitamins for all pregnant women is real and positive recognition by the Scottish Government of the importance of the unborn child.  The unborn child should be entitled to the same rights as any born child and this must include the right to the best possible health care and treatment.  While the rights of the unborn child are not yet fully protected in our country, primarily because of the availability of abortion, this type of initiative is a step in the right direction; a small but important step towards equality of rights for all children, irrespective of whether they happen to be inside or outside of the womb.

 

Click this link to read more about the new initiative: ttp://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/All-pregnant-women-to-receive-vitamins-251d.aspx

Harambe the gorilla and the devaluing of human life

Posted on May 31, 2016 at 7:41 AM Comments comments (0)


It’s a terrifying thought: finding yourself being dragged along in shallow water by a monster and being at their mercy.  Okay, so perhaps it’s slightly far-fetched to refer to Harambe the gorilla as a monster, but one thing we do know for certain is that he is, or was, a wild animal. 


Like most people I am a lover of animals, and I am not particularly keen on many of the limited enclosures wild animals find themselves in, be it in zoos or in those horrid environments they call circuses.  Sure, there are some zoos and safari parks that do a good job in protecting animals, especially endangered species, and this work is important for the wellbeing of life on our planet.   But broadly speaking, it is unfortunate when an animal is removed from its natural habitat and finds itself stuck in an enclosure for humans to gawp at.


Harambe the gorilla is an unfortunate case.  How the four year old lad got into the enclosure is still to be made clear, but one thing is certain: he did get in there and he was at the mercy of a wild animal.  It’s interesting to hear some animal ‘experts’ coming out and defending the gorilla, suggesting that the boy was in no danger because the gorilla was not “beating its chest” and that he was actually holding the boy’s hand.  It doesn’t matter how many times a dog owner tells me “it’s okay, he loves children” as my little one inquisitively ambles towards their pooch; I am still reluctant to let them get too close.  First, because a dog is an instinctively defensive animal that is unable to reason and could turn nasty at any given moment in time.  And second, I know of too many instances where children have either been killed or seriously injured as a result of an animal attack. 


It would be interesting if instead of a gorilla a pit-bull or Rottweiler had been dragging the little boy across a park.  Would people feel similarly reluctant to harm the dog in order to save the child?


It is unfortunate that this little boy found himself in Harambe’s enclosure, and I’m sure the role of his parents and zoo staff will correctly be scrutinised as a result.  But the bottom line is this: a little human child was in an enclosure with a large wild animal that had seen fit to recklessly drag him across a shallow pool of water and then stand over him.  Nobody knew for certain what was going to happen next.  The staff at the zoo had little choice but to put the interests of the child’s safety first, as they should.  There was no room or time for risk taking.


A surge in animal welfare stories to the detriment of more pressing matters such as the Planned Parenthood abortion scandal suggests that our society is getting dangerously close to putting the welfare of animals before the wellbeing of humanity.  Sure, we must work to look after the world God has gifted to us, including the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and the multitude of animals that roam the land.  But we should not devalue human life in the process.  Animals always have been and always will be inferior to human beings, as it is only humans that are made in the image and likeness of God.  

The Good News of Eternal Life

Posted on May 24, 2016 at 9:19 AM Comments comments (0)


You will shine in the world like bright stars
because you are offering it the word of life.’ (Ph2:15-16)

 
Today’s Gospel acclamation is a beautiful summary of our mission as Christians.  At a time when Christianity - despite being on the rise worldwide - is gradually being eroded across the western world, this little piece of scripture is a timely reminder of our call to evangelise. 


By evangelising and spreading the Gospel, as instructed to by Christ himself, we aren’t simply passing on a simple historical message in order to preserve it and keep it going for as long as possible.  By evangelising and spreading the Gospel we are offering people life.  The Word of God is life itself and if we allow it to penetrate our lives and the lives of those around us the world will have life.  And it won’t be a temporary life that is over all too quickly.  Rather, it is an eternal life.  And this eternal life is not something that is reserved for the select few.  It is for everybody, and God wants every single human being to share in this great gift. 

 
So why doesn’t God just guarantee everybody eternal life from the get go?  In a way He has, but He still expects something in return.  He wants us to use our free will to turn to Him and to accept His gift.  This is something that should be very natural for those of us raised as Christians.  But what about those who are not so fortunate?  How will they ever come to know about this gift?  This, brothers and sisters, is why Jesus selected disciples and established a Church.  His Church is charged with guarding the message of eternal life, and it is charged with sharing that message with everyone, taking it to all four corners of the earth.  And what is the Church?  It is me, and it is you. 

 
Brothers and sisters, let us live out our mission as disciples for Christ; taking the Gospel to all people. Let us leave no stone unturned and no person untouched by the beauty and goodness of God’s most incredible gift….the gift of eternal life.

 

UK midwives revolt following abortion announcement

Posted on May 16, 2016 at 9:01 AM Comments comments (0)
Children should be safe in the hands of midwives

The Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is facing calls to resign after announcing that the organisation supported the removal of the 24 week time limit for abortions in the UK.  Cathy Marwick has caused consternation among RCM members, many of whom have signed an online petition seeking to distance themselves from the RCM’s stance.  They have also accused her of failing to consult on the issue. 


Marwick, who is the chair of the UK’s biggest abortion provider BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service), has not surprisingly been accused of a conflict of interest given her two roles.  One midwife from Northern Ireland said: ‘Anyone advocating allowing abortion up to birth, I think is so sad and tragic, but to have my own representative body coming out in support of this extreme view is very disappointing. I know she’s our chief, but there is clearly a conflict of interest. On something as big as this, she should have consulted us.’


Dr Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said: ‘It is bitterly ironic that the RCM, the supposed champion of safe childbirth and antenatal care, should be backing a campaign seeking to legalise the killing of unborn children up until birth. It is even more extraordinary that their chief executive, who also chairs BPAS, should be spearheading this initiative without apparently even consulting her membership. It is an extraordinary abuse of power.’

Cathy Marwick

Democratic Unionist MP, Jim Shannon, has vowed to raise the matter in Parliament this week.  He said: ‘I will ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had, or will have, with the RCM and BPAS. My concern is that scrapping the 24-week cut-off would be absolutely disgraceful. I would have thought the RCM should be protecting unborn life. Its chief executive has this dual position and many people would say you can’t have that.’


It is deeply disturbing that the very people who have for hundreds of years facilitated the safe passage of new life into our world are now being encouraged to compromise that ethos and be prepared to kill off that life.  Indeed, medical advances are strongly indicating that the abortion time limit should be reduced as a result of the increased survival rate of babies before the 24 week mark.  There is absolutely no indication that the abortion time limit should be increased, never mind scrapped altogether.  Any attempt to increase or abolish the 24 week limit flies in the face of scientific and medical fact, and it once again raises the question as to whether the wilful destruction of innocent human life by abortion should be allowed at all.


Our smallest, youngest, most vulnerable children should be safe in the hands of our midwives.


Catholic Love in the Community: the nuns who treat the untreatable in a New York home

Posted on May 13, 2016 at 10:16 AM Comments comments (0)

In the first of our new series of Catholic Love in the Community we pick up the story of a group of Dominican nuns caring for the terminally ill in New York.


The New York Times has this week published a beautiful story about a group of Dominican nuns who care for the dying at their Rosary Hill nursing home situated in the small town of Hawthorne on the outskirts of New York City.


The home, which is essentially a hospice, was founded in 1901, ‘long before the mainstream medical community embraced hospice care and during a time when some doctors still thought cancer was contagious.’



The nuns care for people of all faiths and none and abide by the words of its founder Rose Hawthorne Lathrop: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.”


Their work is highly thought of in the area and Gillian Laub - whose mother-in-law was cared for at the home after her family discovered that insurance could not cover the care she required – said that she was ‘struck by their [the nuns] tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms.’  Laub suggested that “this is how dying should be.”


Please pray for these nuns and for all who work to care for the poor and needy in our society.



To read the full article in the New York Times, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/magazine/the-sisters-who-treat-the-untreatable.html?_r=0

Desiring a better solution to pregnancy ‘problem’

Posted on May 12, 2016 at 10:08 AM Comments comments (0)
These youngsters have taken the chastity pledge

The World Health Organisation has, in its latest report, confirmed that 25% of worldwide pregnancies ended in abortion between 2010 and 2014. The report also states that “around 22 million unsafe abortions are estimated to take place worldwide each year, almost all in developing countries.”


While this news must be greeted with great sadness at the millions of lives lost in an incredibly short period of time, the WHO has a solution.  It states that: “Almost every abortion death and disability could be prevented through sexuality education, use of effective contraception, provision of safe, legal induced abortion, and timely care for complications.” 


It’s interesting that the WHO avoids any talk of chastity or abstinence in their report.  This, as we know, is the most effective means by which to prevent a pregnancy if indeed that is what someone desires.  Contraception has been heralded as the saviour when it comes to having sexual relations without the ‘nuisance’ of a child.  But, in reality, contraception has merely become a ‘get out of jail free card’ for individuals - mostly men - who simply want to use and abuse a member of the opposite sex for their own selfish desires.  Contraception encourages people to engage in the most intimate manner with another human being and then to discard them once the deed is done.  There is no account for feelings, no account for wellbeing.  It is simply the act of using another for selfish desires.  And while not all people can be accused of using another individual through the use of contraception, there is no denying that in using contraception a person is not giving themselves entirely to the other.  It is a way of saying “I love you, but I’m not giving you 100% of my love”.  Is this the kind of love we want for our children?


While it is natural for secular organisations like the WHO to raise unsafe abortion as an issue, the distinction between safe and unsafe abortions is inherently flawed.  This is because it is only concerned with the wellbeing of one party in order to distinguish whether an abortion is safe or unsafe.  Abortion, as we know and as science affirms, involves two distinct human beings.  When abortion results in the injury or death of one of those human beings it must be considered unsafe.  Therefore all abortions are unsafe.  There is no such thing as safe abortion.


While more must be done to ensure people are educated on sexual matters there is a real need to ensure that such education is not simply a pandering to the increasingly wayward sexual revolution and the deep pockets of huge, influential pharmaceutical companies.  Increased availability of ‘safe’ abortion is not the answer.  Nor is the increased availability of contraception.  These remedies simply take us down another road of self-destruction in our society and they quite clearly fail to solve the big issue, which is the widely held view that sex is a basic right to be enjoyed by anyone, with anyone and without the very natural consequence that is another human being.


In many African countries there is a growing movement (University Chastity Education or UCE Missionaries of Chastity) among young adults where they sign a pledge card, pledging a vow of chastity until they meet that special someone and marry them.  This is not the stuff of fairy-tales.  This is real life.  Isn’t this a much more appropriate, measured, and natural solution to the pregnancy ‘problem’ than those proposed by the World Health Organisation?  Doesn’t this solution encourage the kind of love you desire for your son or daughter?

 

To read the WHO report, click here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs388/en/

Three Simple Tips for Catholic Families: Eat, Pray and be Merry

Posted on May 10, 2016 at 12:23 PM Comments comments (0)

1. Eat

We Catholics like to celebrate with food!  This is why it is important to eat together as a family and to enjoy the delicious food gifted to us by God and prepared by the hands of our mother or father.  Mealtimes should be a time of great celebration and we should make an extra special effort to celebrate Sundays and Catholic feast days.  You may even want to consider celebrating important dates such as your anniversary, showing your children that your marriage is something that is important to you and that you delight in remembering that special day.  Why not bake a cake together for the occasion?
And remember, no mobile phones or tablets at the dinner table!  Encourage an environment free of technology, where everyone takes a turn to talk about the highs and lows of their day.  Let the dinner table be a forum for openness and honesty among all the family; a sacrosanct place where the family basks in the joys and rallies in the sorrows of each family member.


2. Pray 

Prayer can take many forms and prayer within the family unit is no different.  It is important that people pray as a family as best they can.  Praying the Rosary as a family is a beautiful way to express our faith and this is something that should be encouraged in every Catholic home.  You may want to make it more interesting for younger children by introducing images or pictures to go with the mysteries.  And if one of the kids kicks off, stop for a break, but remember to try and pick it up again another time.  And start small, especially with younger kids.  A few short prayers or a decade of the Rosary will likely suffice to begin with.
It’s also very important to pray as a family before and after meals.  There are a number of simple prayers suitable for this but even a simple ‘thank you Jesus’ will do! 
And remember, it is important that children see their parents pray, so be prepared to set an example to your kids and make sure you take them to Holy Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation.  Be an example to them by regular attendance at the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and consider becoming more active in the life of your Parish.  Children will respond positively to your active participation in the life of the Church and will see how important it is to you.
Be willing to talk about your faith and don't be embarrassed if one of the kids asks you something you don't know.  This is a great opportunity to learn as a family!  Learning can be a form of prayer too! So don't be afraid to pick up the Bible or the Catechism or to even search Google for an answer.  Let your children see just how interested you are to learn too. 
And above all, let them see just how much you love Jesus by your prayer!  

   
3. Be Merry

As Catholic people immersed in the love of Jesus Christ and with the sure and certain hope of eternal life, shouldn’t we be immensely happy??  Our family life should be full of fun and games.  We should be unafraid to dance and to waste time with our children.  Just because God is at the very centre of our lives doesn’t mean life has to be one big serious drag.  The fact that God is at the centre of our lives is the very reason we should be deliriously happy from the moment we wake in the morning until our head hits the pillow again the following night.  If those of us who are members of the Church established by Jesus Christ and who regularly gather in his presence at Holy Mass cannot be happy, then there is no hope for any of us!  No hope!  So let us rejoice, let us be happy.  Let’s show our children that being Catholic is great fun!  And remember, don’t complain or gossip about people and don’t be too quick to criticise others.  Such an attitude creates a negative environment for children and leads to increased cynicism and scepticism; something they themselves will only be too happy to take on board! 

Accompaniment could be the key to building God’s Kingdom

Posted on May 3, 2016 at 9:43 AM Comments comments (0)
Accompaniment.  Could this be one of the most important words in the life of the Church today? 


One thing above all else struck me in reading Pope Francis’ recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia.  It is the call to accompaniment.  While we are well aware of our call to love and to be merciful towards all people, do we know how to achieve this?  Think about those who live in ways or relationships that do not entirely accord with God’s divine plan, such as same-sex unions, cohabitation and the divorced and remarried.  Pope Francis refers to these ways/relationships as ‘irregular’ and he suggests a need for accompaniment for people in such situations.  Not just the need to love and be merciful; but the need to commit to actual one-to-one accompaniment. 


I don’t intend going into the fine detail of Amoris Laetitia as there have been numerous commentaries on the document and many different views expressed.  For me, I would sum up the document as being insightful in many ways, but especially when it comes to the love we are expected to show our spouse and our children.  I found it incredibly helpful, directing me towards being more patient and understanding in family life.  It is in many ways a challenge to live a holy and wholesome home life. 


But like a fine thread running through the document, there is this call to accompaniment.  The Pope isn’t advocating anything that is contrary to the teaching of the Church.  There is no call to change doctrine and this is confirmed in the Pope’s own words: ““To show understanding in the face of exceptional circumstances never implies dimming the light of the fuller ideal, or proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being.”  Quite simply, Church doctrine continues to stand strong and will always do so.  But perhaps the Pope’s call to “show understanding” is something we should dwell on for a moment.


The Church has always called its people to be loving, compassionate and merciful; to understand the difficulties experienced by others.  It is after all a hospital for sinners.  So, in that sense, there is nothing new here.  The truth is, we should already be accompanying people in their difficulties and bringing them to Christ. 


Sadly, however, the reality is somewhat different.  Too often the Church (that is, the Catholic people) is seen as being judgmental, lacking compassion with a tendency to take the moral high ground.  We are often quick to go on the defensive, preferring to argue rather than listen.  Whether these accusations are justified is not something we should waste our time arguing about.  The important thing is to focus our minds on accompanying all people, whatever their circumstances, and to show them the loving face of Jesus.  We need to stop being defensive and, instead, be positive.  If we come across someone in an irregular situation; be it a same-sex union, or perhaps someone who is divorced and remarried, we are first and foremost called to show that person what it is like to meet the loving Christ, to feel the closeness of his endless love and his unfailing mercy.  We must accompany them.


Only by imitating the love of Christ and accompanying our brothers and sisters can we hope to bring them ever closer to Christ and his teaching.  In essence we are offering them an alternative to what the world offers them.  The world, with all its riches and ill-thought-out ‘freedoms’ offers people what they want, whenever they want it, seemingly satisfying every desire they could ever wish for.  Yet this is never the case.  People always want more.  Always.  The truth is this: people are never satisfied with what the world can give them.


Our patient, loving accompaniment may offer an alternative to the world’s failure to satisfy.  By understanding the difficulties experienced by people and walking with them as Christ would we can bring them closer to the One who can satisfy the longings of each and every heart.


Our mission as Disciples of Christ is to bring people to know him and to know his Truth.  If we want to succeed in this we must first and foremost accept and act on our call to accompaniment.  That must be our first step.  Only then, once we have established a loving, trusting relationship, can we hope to change hearts to acknowledge and perhaps even accept the Truth; a truth that brings real love, real mercy, and ultimately, real freedom. 


If we want to build God’s Kingdom in our world today, we must take people by the hand and walk with them.


To be 'compatible' means to be willing to 'suffer with'

Posted on April 29, 2016 at 11:41 AM Comments comments (0)

The word 'compatible' comes from the Latin word 'compati' which means: 'to suffer with'.


In marriage we are called to sacrifice our entire being as well as our own desires for the good of our spouse.


We are also called to walk the path of suffering with them whenever necessary; to be a constant, loyal and faithful friend and companion through the trials and challenges of life.