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Scots Catholic

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Speaking about matters of faith

Posted on May 6, 2016 at 12:32 PM Comments comments (0)
Sunday’s First Reading (Acts 7: 55-60)

‘Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep.’

 
While sitting at my desk at work earlier this week a conversation about religion was struck up among my colleagues.  Religious chat is generally taboo these days and where it does exist it tends to take the form of an attack on whatever religion happens to be in the spotlight.  This time it was the Catholic faith; my faith.  I was asked to explain the Catholic Church’s belief in the Eucharist.  No easy task in a very secular environment I can assure you.  But I tried my best to explain it in terms acceptable to the ears of my audience.


My colleagues listened to what I had to say and once I had finished a stony silence followed.  This was followed soon thereafter by a change of subject, diverting away from the ridiculous notion that a piece of bread and a cup of wine could be turned into the body and blood of a two thousand year old Jew.  The truth is, my colleagues probably felt not only confused but also a little uncomfortable by all the body and blood chat.  And I can assure you that I most certainly felt uncomfortable with having to explain it to a cynical crowd. 


Yet our discomfort at explaining our faith can never match the discomfort that must have been experienced by the Christian martyrs.  In today’s first reading St Stephen shows incredible courage as he stands before a cynical crowd and tells them that he has seen ‘heaven thrown open’ and that he has also seen ‘the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God’.  Despite knowing that such words would likely lead to his death he was still not afraid to speak them.  And he even echoed the words of Christ on the Cross when he begged God to forgive those who were killing him.  Like any human being in that situation he would have been absolutely terrified, but he never once denied his faith in order to save his earthly life.


It’s not easy to talk about our faith to others.  We can feel embarrassed, afraid, and even silly.  But thankfully the UK is not like the world St Stephen lived in.  It is a place where, despite some arguments to the contrary, people are generally free to talk openly about their faith.  We must not be afraid to use this freedom, but to do it sensibly and proportionately.  Our world needs a message of love, mercy and peace; a message that was so profoundly illustrated in the words and actions of St Stephen just before his death.  We can give the world hope with our message; a message that comes in the shape of one man….Jesus Christ.

Westminster Genocide debate - write to your MP now!

Posted on April 15, 2016 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (0)
When will the West listen?

A motion is to be put before the UK Parliament next week calling on the House to recognise that Christians and other minority groups in the Middle East are facing genocide.


The terror being wrought by ISIS is well known to all, though the fact that it is mainly targeted towards Christians is not so well documented in the West.


This is an opportunity for the UK government to take a stand against ISIS by declaring their actions to be a genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities.  As Pope Francis said: "It is wrong to look the other way, and remain silent."  We all know the situation in the Middle East, and now is our chance to act and to speak up.


Please, please contact your MP today and encourage them to take part in this debate which will take place in Parliament next Wednesday 20th April.  Aid to the Church in Need UK has helpfully drafted up a letter and included a link to obtain the contact details of your MP.  You can find it all by clicking here.


We can no longer allow innocent blood to flow under our feet while we do nothing.  We need to act to stop this murder.  Please, help the helpless and write to your MP today. 

Pope Francis: Church needs consistent witness

Posted on April 8, 2016 at 8:44 AM Comments comments (0)

Pope Francis has urged people to more consistent in their faith, even to the point of martyrdom.  During his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday the pope described the true Christian witness as someone who is “consistent” in what he says, what he does, and what he has received, namely the Holy Spirit. 


He continued: “It is the witness of our martyrs today – so many! – chased out of their homeland, driven away, having their throats cut, persecuted: they have the courage to confess Jesus even to the point of death.  It is the witness of those Christians who live their life seriously, and who say: ‘I can’t do this; I cannot do evil to another; I cannot cheat; I cannot lead life halfway, I have to give my witness’.  And the witness consists in saying what has been seen and heard in faith, namely the Risen Jesus, with the Holy Spirit that has been received as a gift.”


The pope then went on to say that the Church today “needs witnesses, martyrs.  These are the witnesses, that is, the saints, the saints of everyday, of ordinary life, but life [lived with] consistency; and also the witness ‘to the end’, even to death.  These are the lifeblood of the Church; these are the ones that carry the Church forward, the witnesses who attest that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive, and they bear witness through the consistency of their life, with the Holy Spirit they received as a gift.”

Pope Francis sends special envoy to Glasgow for St John Ogilvie Mass

Posted on March 10, 2015 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)
Pope Francis has sent a special envoy to Glasgow to celebrate a special Mass for the 400th anniversary of St John Ogilvie's martyrdom.
 
The Mass will take place in St Andrew's Cathedral on Tuesday 10th March at 7.30pm and the pope will be represented by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the former Archbishop of Westminster.
 
In his homily, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia will tell the congregation that: "St John Ogilvie and the martyrs remind us that there is a line that they will not cross and that faithfulness to Christ is non-negotiable even at the cost of their lives."
 
The Archbishop, in a call for Christian unity, will also recall the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI, who canonised St John Ogilvie in Rome in 1976, when he said: "St John Ogilvie will help us to resolve religious disputes in the direction of mutual respect, serene study and of faithful adherence to the Truth so as to recover that longed-for unity of faith and love which Christ taught us as the highest expression of his Gospel."
 
The Mass is tonight at 7.30pm in St Andrew's Cathedral, Clyde Street, Glasgow.  All are welcome to attend.
 

Huge Catholic Youth Event in Scotland Aims to Unite in Solidarity with Persecuted Christians

Posted on February 5, 2015 at 9:17 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Aid to the Church in Need, an organisation which helps persecuted Christians around the world through prayer, information and action, is inviting Catholic High Schools and Universities from all over Scotland to gather in Carfin on 11th June in a show of solidarity with persecuted Christians.
 
The event, which will take place at Carfin Grotto near Motherwell, is expected to be the largest ever gathering of young Catholics in Scotland.
 
Beginning with the midday Angelus, the event will then play host to a programme of Adoration, music and guest speakers. 
 
The plight of persecuted Christians cannot be overstated in our world today.  You only need to consider the crises in Syria and Nigeria to see the brutality of Christian persecution.  Christianity is the most persecuted religion in our world today.  Please show your support for our Christian brothers and sisters by attending this event.
 
For more information please click here: http://www.acnuk.org/what-we-do 
 
You can also contact Lorraine McMahon on 01698 337 470 or email [email protected] or check @ACN_Scotland or facebook.com/acn.scotland.office

Pope Francis Urges Catholics to Preserve the Faith

Posted on August 18, 2014 at 8:39 AM Comments comments (0)
 
During his recent trip to South Korea Pope Francis urged all Catholic people to preserve the faith and to never be tempted to water it down.
 
The pope said, "We today can find our faith challenged by the world, and in countless ways we are asked to compromise our faith, to water down the radical demands of the Gospel and to conform to the spirit of this age.  Yet the martyrs call out to us to put Christ first and to see all else in this world in relation to him and his eternal Kingdom.  They challenge us to think about what, if anything, we ourselves would be willing to die for."
 
These powerful words should prove that, while Pope Francis may have adopted a more liberal approach to the day-to-day living of the papacy, he most certainly is never going to stray from the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.
 
To read more on this, click this link to zenit.org: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/don-t-water-down-the-faith-pope-tells-koreans
 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: not a hair on your head will be lost (Wednesday 27th November 2013)

Posted on November 27, 2013 at 7:06 AM Comments comments (0)
 
From today’s Gospel (Luke 21:12-19)
 
‘You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’’
 
 
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, gives us another warning.  This time he speaks of how we will be persecuted in his name and that even close family members will betray us!  Some of us may even be put to death!  Yet, our all-loving God tells us that, despite this, not one single solitary hair on our heads will be lost.  Not one hair. 
 
We should never fear preaching the Good News and preaching about Jesus.  God became man to save us all!  Not just one or two but all of us!  Yet not everyone appreciates this. 
 
Our task is to tell people of this great love and to tell them that not one hair on their head will be lost; that they too can be saved through the love of Christ crucified.      
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: Dying with a certain faith (Wednesday 20th November 2013)

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 8:18 AM Comments comments (1)
St Bartholomew was skinned alive for his faith
 
From today’s reading (2 Maccabees 7:1,20-31)
 
‘I do not know how you appeared in my womb; it was not I who endowed you with breath and life, I had not the shaping of your every part. It is the creator of the world, ordaining the process of man’s birth and presiding over the origin of all things, who in his mercy will most surely give you back both breath and life, seeing that you now despise your own existence for the sake of his laws.’’
 
‘I implore you, my child, observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of what did not exist, and that mankind comes into being in the same way.  Do not fear this executioner, but prove yourself worthy of your brothers, and make death welcome, so that in the day of mercy I may receive you back in your brothers’ company.’'
 
 
The great faith shown by the woman in these passages is quite incredible.  She had already witnessed the execution of six of her seven sons.  Now, the youngest was also preparing to die.  The king tried to appeal to the boy and to the mother, stating that he would spare the boy’s life but only if the boy abandoned the traditions of his ancestors.  This was not something the boy was prepared to do and his mother, driven by the sureness of faith, uttered the words in the above passages.
 
This woman shows complete trust in God; the same God who gave life to her children and who shaped each of them in her womb.  She encourages her son to observe both heaven and earth and acknowledge that God made it all from nothing.  She encourages him to consider that mankind came into being in the same way.  She even tells him not to fear the executioner but to welcome death as it will lead to their family being reunited once again in heaven, subject to the mercy of God.  What faith! 
 
Death has no hold over us.  It’s that simple.  This woman knew that death was not the end and that God in His mercy would not let her sons be lost forever.  Rather, He would let them live on in His kingdom. 
 
Consider this story as a parallel to the countless martyrs who have died for their faith over the years.  Even to this day people are dying for their faith, refusing to renounce what they truly believe in; refusing to renounce their God.  Why?  Through love of God and in the certain knowledge that death is not the end….
 
 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: Rejecting Christ (Thursday 31st October 2013)

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 8:23 AM Comments comments (1)
Taken from today's Gospel (Luke 13:31-35)
 
‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused! So be it! Your house will be left to you. Yes, I promise you, you shall not see me till the time comes when you say:
‘Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!’
 
 
After a few days focusing on the letters of St Paul today we turn back to the words of Jesus in the Gospel. 
 
And it comes with a serious warning from Jesus for the people of Jerusalem.  They have already rejected the prophets and he knows that the time is coming when they will reject him and crucify him.  Yet Jesus, being the Son of God, is so full of confidence in the Father’s love and the Resurrection that he promises the people that there will  come a time when they will bow down to him and glorify him.
 
And this is still the case today for those who reject Christ.  There will come a time when, alongside the faithful, they will bow down before him and glorify him.  Of that we can be absolutely certain.
 

Walk the Streets of the World and Proclaim your Faith in Christ says Pope Francis on World Mission Day

Posted on August 7, 2013 at 7:24 AM Comments comments (4)
 
 
Pope Francis has released his message to the world for World Mission Day 2013.  In it he speaks about how faith “needs our personal response” and that it is a gift that we cannot keep to ourselves but must share.  He said “if we want to keep it only to ourselves, we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians.”
He also speaks about the missionary task of Christian people to “walk the streets of the world with our brothers and sisters, proclaiming and witnessing to our faith in Christ and making ourselves heralds of his Gospel.”
He stresses that the Church is not “a relief organization, an enterprise or an NGO, but a community of people, animated by the Holy Spirit, who have lived and are living the wonder of the encounter with Jesus Christ and want to share this experience of deep joy, the message of salvation that the Lord gave us.”
The Pope also compared Christians living in areas where they are not free to practice their faith to the early Christian martyrs and reaffirmed his personal closeness in prayer to these people.
 
 
The full text of Pope Francis’ address is as follows (provided by news.va):

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year, as we celebrate World Mission Day, the Year of Faith, which is an important opportunity to strengthen our friendship with the Lord and our journey as a Church that preaches the Gospel with courage, comes to an end. From this perspective, I would like to propose some reflections.
 
1. Faith is God’s precious gift, which opens our mind to know and love him. He wants to enter into relationship with us and allow us to participate in his own life in order to make our life more meaningful, better and more beautiful. God loves us! Faith, however, needs to be accepted, it needs our personal response, the courage to entrust ourselves to God, to live his love and be grateful for his infinite mercy. It is a gift, not reserved for a few but offered with generosity. Everyone should be able to experience the joy of being loved by God, the joy of salvation! It is a gift that one cannot keep to oneself, but it is to be shared. If we want to keep it only to ourselves, we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians. The proclamation of the Gospel is part of being disciples of Christ and it is a constant commitment that animates the whole life of the Church. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community" (BENEDICT XVI, Verbum Domini, 95). Each community is "mature" when it professes faith, celebrates it with joy during the liturgy, lives charity, proclaims the Word of God endlessly, leaves one’s own to take it to the “peripheries”, especially to those who have not yet had the opportunity to know Christ. The strength of our faith, at a personal and community level, can be measured by the ability to communicate it to others, to spread and live it in charity, to witness to it before those we meet and those who share the path of life with us.

2. The Year of Faith, fifty years after the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, motivates the entire Church towards a renewed awareness of its presence in the contemporary world and its mission among peoples and nations. Missionary spirit is not only about geographical territories, but about peoples, cultures and individuals, because the "boundaries" of faith do not only cross places and human traditions, but the heart of each man and each woman. The Second Vatican Council emphasized in a special way how the missionary task:, that of broadening the boundaries of faith, belongs to every baptized person and all Christian communities; since “the people of God lives in communities, especially in dioceses and parishes, and becomes somehow visible in them, it is up to these to witness Christ before the nations" (Ad gentes, 37). Each community is therefore challenged, and invited to make its own, the mandate entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles, to be his "witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8) and this, not as a secondary aspect of Christian life, but as its essential aspect: we are all invited to walk the streets of the world with our brothers and sisters, proclaiming and witnessing to our faith in Christ and making ourselves heralds of his Gospel. I invite Bishops, Priests, Presbyteral and Pastoral Councils, and each person and group responsible in the Church to give a prominent position to this missionary dimension in formation and pastoral programmes, in the understanding that their apostolic commitment is not complete unless it aims at bearing witness to Christ before the nations and before all peoples. This missionary aspect is not merely a programmatic dimension in Christian life, but it is also a paradigmatic dimension that affects all aspects of Christian life.

3. The work of evangelization often finds obstacles, not only externally, but also from within the ecclesial community. Sometimes there is lack of fervour, joy, courage and hope in proclaiming the Message of Christ to all and in helping the people of our time to an encounter with him. Sometimes, it is still thought, that proclaiming the truth of the Gospel means an assault on freedom. Paul VI speaks eloquently on this: "It would be... an error to impose something on the consciences of our brethren. But to propose to their consciences the truth of the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ, with complete clarity and with total respect for free options which it presents... is a tribute to this freedom" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80). We must always have the courage and the joy of proposing, with respect, an encounter with Christ, and being heralds of his Gospel. Jesus came amongst us to show us the way of salvation and he entrusted to us the mission to make it known to all to the ends of the earth. All too often, we see that it is violence, lies and mistakes that are emphasized and proposed. It is urgent in our time to announce and witness to the goodness of the Gospel, and this from within the Church itself. It is important to never to forget a fundamental principle for every evangelizer: one cannot announce Christ without the Church. Evangelization is not an isolated individual or private act; it is always ecclesial. Paul VI wrote, "When an unknown preacher, catechist or Pastor, preaches the Gospel, gathers the little community together, administers a Sacrament, even alone, he is carrying out an ecclesial act." He acts not "in virtue of a mission which he attributes to himself or by a personal inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in her name" (ibid. 60). And this gives strength to the mission and makes every missionary and evangelizer feel never alone, but part of a single Body animated by the Holy Spirit.

4. In our era, the widespread mobility and facility of communication through new media have mingled people, knowledge, experience. For work reasons, entire families move from one continent to another; professional and cultural exchanges, tourism, and other phenomena have also led to great movements of peoples. This makes it difficult, even for the parish community, to know who lives permanently or temporarily in the area. More and more, in large areas of what were traditionally Christian regions, the number of those who are unacquainted with the faith, or indifferent to the religious dimension or animated by other beliefs, is increasing. Therefore it is not infrequent that, some of the baptized make lifestyle choices that lead them away from faith, thus making them need a "new evangelization". To all this is added the fact, that a large part of humanity has not yet been reached by the good news of Jesus Christ. We also live in a time of crisis that touches various sectors of existence, not only the economy, finance, food security, or the environment, but also those involving the deeper meaning of life and the fundamental values that animate it. Even human coexistence is marked by tensions and conflicts that cause insecurity and difficulty in finding the right path to a stable peace. In this complex situation, where the horizon of the present and future seems threatened by menacing clouds, it is necessary to proclaim courageously and in very situation, the Gospel of Christ, a message of hope, reconciliation, communion, a proclamation of God's closeness, his mercy, his salvation, and a proclamation that the power of God’s love is able to overcome the darkness of evil and guide us on the path of goodness. The men and women of our time needs the secure light that illuminates their path and that only the encounter with Christ can give. Let us bring to the world, through our witness, with love, the hope given by faith! The Church’s missionary spirit is not about proselytizing, but the testimony of a life that illuminates the path, which brings hope and love. The Church – I repeat once again – is not a relief organization, an enterprise or an NGO, but a community of people, animated by the Holy Spirit, who have lived and are living the wonder of the encounter with Jesus Christ and want to share this experience of deep joy, the message of salvation that the Lord gave us. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church in this path.

5. I would like to encourage everyone to be a bearers of the good news of Christ and I am grateful especially to missionaries, to the Fidei Donum priests, men and women religious and lay faithful - more and more numerous – who by accepting the Lord's call, leave their homeland to serve the Gospel in different lands and cultures. But I would also like to emphasize that these same young Churches are engaging generously in sending missionaries to the Churches that are in difficulty - not infrequently Churches of ancient Christian tradition – and thus bring the freshness and enthusiasm with which they live the faith, a faith that renews life and gives hope. To live in this universal dimension, responding to the mandate of Jesus: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28, 19) is something enriching for each particular Church, each community, because sending missionaries is never a loss, but a gain. I appeal to all those who feel this calling to respond generously to the Holy Spirit, according to your state in life, and not to be afraid to be generous with the Lord. I also invite Bishops, religious families, communities and all Christian groups to support, with foresight and careful discernment, the missionary call ad gentes and to assist Churches that need priests, religious and laity, thus strengthening the Christian community. And this concern should also be present among Churches that are part of the same Episcopal Conference or Region, because it is important that Churches rich in vocations help more generously those that lack them.
At the same time I urge missionaries, especially the Fidei Donum priests and laity, to live with joy their precious service in the Churches to which they are sent and to bring their joy and experience to the Churches from which they come, remembering how Paul and Barnabas at the end of their first missionary journey "reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27). They can become a path to a kind of "return" of faith, bringing the freshness of the young Churches to Churches of ancient Christian tradition, and thus helping them to rediscover the enthusiasm and the joy of sharing the faith in an exchange that is mutual enrichment in the journey of following the path of the Lord.
 
The Church is a Community of People

The concern for all the Churches, that the Bishop of Rome shares with his brother Bishops finds an important expression in the activity of the Pontifical Mission Societies, which are meant to animate and deepen the missionary conscience of every baptized Christian, and of every community, by reminding them of the need for a more profound missionary formation of the whole People of God and by encouraging the Christian community to contribute to the spread of the Gospel in the world.

Finally I wish to say a word about those Christians who, in various parts of the world, experience difficulty in openly professing their faith and in enjoying the legal right to practice it in a worthy manner. They are our brothers and sisters, courageous witnesses - even more numerous than the martyrs of the early centuries - who endure with apostolic perseverance many contemporary forms of persecution. Quite a few also risk their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ. I wish to reaffirm my closeness in prayer to individuals, families and communities who suffer violence and intolerance, and I repeat to them the consoling words of Jesus: "Take courage, I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33).

Benedict XVI expressed the hope that: "The word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere" (2 Thes 3:1): May this Year of Faith increasingly strengthen our relationship with Christ the Lord, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love" (Porta fidei, 15). This is my wish for World Mission Day this year. I cordially bless missionaries and all those who accompany and support this fundamental commitment of the Church to proclaim the Gospel to all the ends of the earth. Thus will we, as ministers and missionaries of the Gospel, experience "the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing" (PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80).