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Glasgow Shines Brightly as the Pro-Life Movement Takes Centre Stage

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (4)
Our Lady's statue is carried through Glasgow
 
Last night the centre of Glasgow witnessed the joy and splendour of life, wrapped up in a beautiful Rosary, dignified procession, and passionate celebration of the Mass.
 
It was pro-life night and the people of Glasgow took to the streets to spread the Good News of life.  Around 300 people were present in George Square and it was evident that numbers were slightly up on last year which was encouraging. 
 
The Rosary, led by Father John Keenan of the University of Glasgow and St Patrick’s, Anderston, was a beautiful show of devotion and honour to Our Blessed Mother whose statue, held ably aloft by two young volunteers, looked lovingly over the crowd as it prayed.  Candles lit the faces of pro-life people from around the country, as they held their Rosary beads firmly in their hands.  There were babies, schoolchildren, priests, nuns, people with disabilities, people with special needs, the elderly, and, of course, the youth element which seems to be growing at a pace in Scotland these days.  I mention all of these groups individually not to differentiate them from the normal because that is not the case.  I mention them to highlight the various characters who make up the pro-life movement, many of whom may not be here had their parents not been pro-life.  Thank God for that grace that they are given the opportunity to live, an opportunity we have ALL experienced.  We are all alive today because we were not aborted.  Yet many are not afforded such an opportunity in today’s culture of death. 
 
Father Keenan leads the Rosary 
 
As we were told prior to the Rosary, 200,000 babies have been aborted in the last year since the last such event in 2012.  In one day 500 babies are aborted in the UK.  Do we really take in these figures?  I mean, do we REALLY take them in?  Some people argue that this is justified in the name of women’s rights.  Yet these people disregard the single most natural, amazing and precious gift a woman can have and give....another life!   
 
Either side of the Rosary there was beautiful singing of hymns and during the Rosary the Fatima ‘Ave’ was belted out with real passion and fervour.  The group then proceeded to walk gently and reverently to the Cathedral on Clyde Street, blazing a trail of fire behind Our Lady’s statue at one point spanning the full length of Glassford Street.  It was a beautiful time, an opportunity to reflect on what we were really doing here.  Praying for an end to abortion.  Praying for all affected by this sad and barbaric attack on defenceless children and vulnerable women.  Praying for the fathers, many of whom don’t have a say.  Praying for the grandparents, aunts, and uncles, for cousins and close family friends.  Praying for the medics, the doctors and midwives who carry out abortions on a daily basis.  Praying for those who are pro-abortion for them to be enlightened to the beauty and splendour of new life, and to trust in God’s providence.  Praying for our governors that they may be similarly enlightened.  And, of course, praying for the pro-life movement, that it will continue to stand for life and never tire of fervently praying for the innocents.
 
The pro-life movement blaze a trail through Glasgow 
 
At the Cathedral, the gathered faithful were treated to a beautiful Mass, interspersed with beautiful music and singing from the St Ninian’s choir, and a roof-raising homily by Father Keenan.  It was around 15-20 minutes long and I have to admit that I hung on to EVERY word.  The Reading and Gospel of the day didn’t perhaps, at first glance, appear to be a fit for the occasion.  But God never lets us down and Father Keenan made sure we were left in no doubt that these readings were perfect for the pro-life cause.
 
In his letter to the Romans St Paul talks about putting ‘your bodies at the service of vice and immorality’ and how we must instead ‘put them at the service of righteousness for sanctification.’  In George Square a small group of pro-abortion protesters continually chanted about “my body, my choice”.  There were a few other expletives in among these chants but the general theme was one of ‘my body, my choice’.  As Father Keenan suggested, it is always “me, me, me”.
So what is our view on the other side of the fence?  What is the pro-life stance?  Father Keenan pointed us in the direction of Mary suggesting that Mary holds the key to what we must do.  When confronted by the Angel Gabriel and told that she would conceive a child, the Son of God, Mary said, “Let it be done to me according to your word”.  Mary did not selfishly state that it was her body and reject the child she was suddenly to bear!  Mary accepted God’s Will and God’s Divine Plan.  It was an act of complete faith.  It was true love.  It was Mary saying “My body, for you”.  Not ‘my body, my choice’ but ‘my body, for you’!
 
And this is the Christian message.  We don’t live for ourselves.  We live for God and for others!  Everyone else comes before us.  That is the way we must live and that is why we are pro-life.  God’s Will grants mothers the grace to bear His children.  We must have the faith of Mary and bear these children, and present them back to God, by raising them to glorify Him and to put Him and others first.  What an amazing world we would live in if everybody did this!!  What love!! 
 
Father Keenan then turned to the Gospel and spoke about how Jesus wished the earthly fire were “blazing already”!  The witness last night, out on the busy streets of Glasgow, was the fire.  That public witness is the blaze Jesus is speaking of.  Witnessing to the faith on the streets!  As Father Keenan suggested, “many people are pro-life on the brain” but they don’t do anything about it.  That isn’t good enough!  Jesus wants us to get out there to witness for these little ones!  What good is keeping the pro-life cause to ourselves?  It is no good!  Nothing will change if we keep it to ourselves. 
 
Father Keenan challenged everyone present in the Cathedral to bring another person with them next year.  That way our numbers will double.  That is the challenge to the pro-life people of Scotland, particularly those in the Glasgow area.  The recent census in 2011 confirmed that there are around 841,000 Catholic people in Scotland (an increase on the 2001 census), with the vast majority of them in the Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Inverclyde areas!!  Is 300 people representative of this huge number?  I think not.  It’s hugely disappointing.  So the challenge is being thrown down right here, right now.  The same event will be taking place at the same time next year and we want to AT LEAST double our numbers.  This isn’t just about Catholic people marching through the streets of our city.  This is about life.  It is about affording little babies the same opportunity we are all so blessed to have received, the opportunity to live.     
 
 
 

Learning the Catholic Faith: Is Suffering Necessary for Salvation?

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 11:24 AM Comments comments (8)
 
Suffering.  It’s a nasty thought.  Nobody wants to suffer, whichever form that suffering may take.
 
But do we have to suffer?  And do we have to embrace our suffering?  Today’s world suggests suffering is a bad thing and is to be avoided at all costs.  Nobody should have to suffer; we should be free from any suffering. 
 
The Christian view is, as we will discover, quite different.  Let us first consider this text from St Peter:
 
‘My dear people, you must not think it unaccountable that you should be tested by fire. There is nothing extraordinary in what has happened to you. If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you....If anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.’ (1 Peter 4:12-16)
 
St Peter tells us to embrace our suffering.  We are to be glad of our suffering because we ‘will enjoy a much greater gladness when his [Christ’s] glory is revealed.’  So our suffering, suggests Peter, will not be without reward.
 
Let us also consider St Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians:
 
‘When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times.  When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.’ (2 Corinthians 1:6-7)
 
So, we are going to ‘make it’ if we endure the hard times as much as we enjoy the good times.  And our suffering for Jesus will assist us in our healing and salvation. 
So, rewards, healing, and salvation; so far so good!
 
Now what about Jesus himself, what did he say about suffering?  Well, perhaps his most well know reference is this beatitude:
 
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.’ (Matthew 5:11-12)
 
The Cross: a sign of pain and suffering; but also a sign of reconciliation and salvation 
 
We also have the following examples of Jesus speaking about our need to suffer:
 
Matthew 10:38 - Jesus said, "he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
 
Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34 - Jesus said, "if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
 
Luke 14:27 - Jesus said, "whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple."
 
There is no getting away from it.  Jesus himself says we have to take up our cross.  And what is the cross?  It is a sign of suffering and pain; yet it is also a sign of reconciliation and salvation.  So through our pain and suffering comes a deep spiritual cleansing and salvation.
 
Add to this the words of Our Lady at Fatima who asked the three shepherd children, "Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?"  Once the children had said yes, Our Lady responded, "You will have to suffer a lot, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”  
 
The need for suffering in our Christian faith is in no doubt.  To seek freedom from suffering contrary to the Will of God is not going to help us to eternal life.  We need to accept suffering as part of God’s Will and trust in His infinite mercy.  That is what the three little children of Fatima did.  That is what St Peter and St Paul did.  That is what Jesus himself had to do.  And now he is asking us to do the same.
 
 
 

Learning the Catholic Faith: The Rosary

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 8:47 AM Comments comments (5)
Our Lady of Fatima
 
The word ‘Rosary’ comes from Latin and means ‘garland of roses’.  The Rosary is a devotion in honour of our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary and contemplates the life of Christ through the eyes of Mary.  It is a most beautiful devotion and I can attest to it delivering many graces to those who pray it. 
 
It is understood St Dominic gave us the Rosary as we now know it, after being moved by a vision of Our Lady; and he and Blessed Alan de la Roche revealed fifteen promises by Our Lady for those who pray the Rosary.  They are as follows:
 
  1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to Me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
  6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful in reciting the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from purgatory, those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the holy Rosary shall be aided by Me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from My Divine Son, that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors, the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are My sons, and brothers of my only son Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
 
 
These promises were further emphasised to the world when Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima in the early twentieth century and told them to pray the Rosary often for poor sinners and poor souls and for peace in the world. 
 
So now, let’s say it!!
 
Picture: rosaryprayerguide.com
 
Saying the Rosary:
 
Section 1
 
1.  Take your Rosary beads and use the Crucifix to bless yourself ‘In the name of the Father….’
 
2.  Then, still on the Crucifix, say the Apostles Creed.
 
 
Section 2 – These prayers are for the Holy Father’s prayer intentions 
 
1.  On the very first bead (closest to the Crucifix), say an Our Father
 
2.  Then on the next three beads say a Hail Mary on each bead
 
3.  On the next bead say a Glory Be. 
 
 
Section 3 – This is the main part of the Rosary.  Select the appropriate set of Mysteries (below) and then proceed as follows:
 
1.  On the first bead of each decade say an ‘Our Father’; then say a ‘Hail Mary’ on each of the following ten beads; then say one ‘Glory Be’; and finally, say the Fatima prayer.
 
2.  You then continue in this manner until you have said 5 decades, covering each mystery of the relevant set of Mysteries.
 
3.  Finish your Rosary by saying the Hail Holy Queen (Salve Regina), the Final Prayer (both set out below) and making a sign of the Cross with your Crucifix.
 
4.  You have said your Rosary!!  Just wait for the graces to flow!!
 
Here are the prayers if you aren't sure of them....
 
The Apostles Creed: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
 
The Our Father: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.   Amen.
 
The Hail Mary: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
 
The Glory Be (Doxology): Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.
 
The Fatima Prayer: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.
 
Hail Holy Queen (Salve Regina): Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, hail our life our sweetness and our hope.  To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this veil of tears.  Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
V: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
 
Final Prayer: O God, by the life, death and resurrection of Your only begotten Son, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech thee that by meditating on these mysteries of the most Holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
 
Mysteries
 
In saying your Rosary, contemplate these mysteries for each decade (selecting the appropriate set of mysteries for the day on which you say your Rosary):
 
The Joyful Mysteries (Monday, Saturday): The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
 
The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday, Friday): The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, The Crucifixion.
 
The Glorious Mysteries (Sunday, Wednesday): The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Descent of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven.
 
The Luminous Mysteries (Thursday): The Baptism in the Jordan, The Wedding Feast at Cana, The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God and Repentance for Sin, The Transfiguration, The Institution of the Holy Eucharist.
 
 
 
 
 

Pope Francis General Audience: What Makes the Church Catholic? (Wednesday 9th October 2013)

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 8:49 AM Comments comments (2)
 
In today’s General Audience Pope Francis reflected on the meaning of the Church being ‘catholic’ and what this means for us.
 
The Pope said “We can understand this catholicity in three ways.  First, the Church is Catholic because she proclaims the apostolic faith in its entirety; she is the place where we meet Christ in his sacraments and receive the spiritual gifts needed to grow in holiness together with our brothers and sisters.  The Church is also catholic because her communion embraces the whole human race, and she is sent to bring to the entire world the joy of salvation and the truth of the Gospel.  Finally, the Church is catholic because she reconciles the wonderful diversity of God’s gifts to build up His people in unity and harmony.”
 
He then encourages us to seek the Lord’s help in our journey of faith saying, “Let us ask the Lord to make us more catholic – to enable us, like a great family, to grow together in faith and love, to draw others to Jesus in communion with the Church, and to welcome the gifts and contributions of everyone, in order to create a joyful symphony of praise to God for his goodness, his grace, and his redemptive love.”
 
So the Pope is encouraging us to live out our faith and grow together in faith and love.  He is also encouraging us to continue in the New Evangelisation and draw people to the Church, a ministry that is expected of all of us.  And finally, the Pope wants us to be a welcoming Church, welcoming the contributions of all people so that we can create a ‘joyful symphony’ to praise God for all His goodness, grace and love.
 

Learning the Catholic Faith: How can we speak about God?

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 6:44 AM Comments comments (0)
How can we speak about God?
 
By taking as our starting point the perfection of man and of the other creatures which are a reflection, albeit a limited one, of the infinite perfection of God, we are able to speak about God with all people.  We must, however, continually purify our language insofar as it is image-bound and imperfect, realising that we can never fully express the infinite mystery of God.
 
(From the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Learning the Catholic Faith Parts 3 and 4: How is it possible to know God with only the light of human reason? Is the light of reason alone sufficient to know the mystery of God?

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 7:47 AM Comments comments (0)
Parts 3 and 4 of our exploration of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church...
 
 
How is it possible to know God with only the light of human reason?
 
Starting from creation, that is from the world and the human person, through reason alone one can know God with certainty as the origin and end of the universe, as the highest good and as infinite truth and beauty.
 
 
Is the light of reason alone sufficient to know the mystery of God?
 
In coming to a knowledge of God by the light of reason alone man experiences many difficulties.  Indeed, on his own he is unable to enter into the intimacy of the divine mystery.  This is why he stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also about those religions and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.
 

St Therese of the Child Jesus (also known as St Therese of Lisieux)

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 7:29 AM Comments comments (3)
 
St Therese
 
Although St Therese, who became a Carmelite nun at the tender age of 15 in Lisieux, is one of the most famous Saints of the Church, very little was known of her prior to her death in 1897 at the age of 24. 
 
It was only a number of years after her death that the true beauty of her life came to light, through her memoirs which her prioress Mother Agnes of Jesus had asked her to write some two years prior to her death.  With the publication of these memoirs came a “storm of glory” that swept the world producing miracles, conversions, cures and apparitions.  It was a time of great joy and resulted in the Pope suspending the then 50 year rule for canonisations and declaring her a saint in 1925.
 
St Therese wanted to be a saint, following in the footsteps of her namesake St Teresa of Avila.  A Jesuit priest, whom Therese spoke to while he was visiting her convent, thought he could sense a little misplaced pride in Therese’s desire to become a saint and challenged her on this.  But the bold Therese simply responded by saying “Why Father?  Since our Lord has said, ‘Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect’.”
 
Therese is also famous for her ‘Little Way’, a concept of taking God at His Word and letting His Love for us wash away our sins and imperfections.  When a priest once told her off for falling asleep during prayer, claiming it was for want of fervour and fidelity, she replied: “I am not desolate.  I remember that little children are just as pleasing to their parents when they are asleep as when they are awake.”

St Therese, a true blessing to the world and a true example of complete and unconditional devotion to God.
 

Learn the Catholic Faith Day 2: Why does man have a desire for God?

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 7:19 AM Comments comments (0)
 
‘God himself, in creating man in His own image, has written upon his heart the desire to see him.  Even if this desire is often ignored, God never ceases to draw man to Himself because only in God will we find and live the fullness of truth and happiness for which he never stops searching.  By nature and by vocation, therefore, man is a religious being, capable of entering into communion with God.  This intimate and vital bond with God confers on man his fundamental dignity.’
 
 
Remember this feature appears every Tuesday and Thursday on the Scots Catholic blog! 
 

Learn the Catholic Faith Day 1: What is the Plan of God for Man?

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 10:17 AM Comments comments (1)
 
 
Every Tuesday and Thursday we are going to bring you a little piece of knowledge about the Catholic Faith, with thanks to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church! 
 
The Compendium was put together by a Vatican commission headed by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who was, at the time, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
 
It's a more compacted version of the full Catechism but provides a detailed enough guide to the Faith.  Through this feature we expect the Compendium will provide answers to a lot of questions you have about the Catholic Faith.  And please note, this is not just for Catholic people, it's also for people from other Christian denominations and those of no faith who perhaps want to learn more about the Catholic Faith.
 
Today is day 1 and we hope you enjoy our new feature!!
 
 
What is the Plan of God for Man?
 
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.  In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son as the Redeemer and Saviour of all mankind, fallen into sin, thus calling all into his Church and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, making them adopted children and heirs of his eternal happiness.
 
 

Pope Points Towards Church Teaching Despite Media Efforts to Suggest Otherwise

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 11:57 AM Comments comments (116)
 
Pope Francis' recent interview with America magazine has generated much excitement after it was released today. 
 
The world's media has already started publishing excerpts from the interview and much has been made of the Pope allegedly stating that the Church is too focused on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and contraception. 
 
What the Pope DID say is that "we cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods."  He then stated that he would not discuss these issues because "the teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear." 
 
The mainstream media has again tried to cut and paste the Pope's words to achieve a sensationalist headline and encourage thoughts that the Pope is trying to water down Catholic teaching on these crucial issues.  This is not what the Pope is doing; he cannot go against the Will of God.  On the contrary, the Pope, in the full and proper context of the interview, is pointing us all to Church teaching on these issues.  
 
For the full interview please click this link to go to America magazine.