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Peaceful and prayerful: 40 Days for Life returns to Scotland this Lent

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (2)

During the season of Lent, a number of people will gather outside four hospitals in Scotland in quiet, prayerful vigil to stand up for the inherent dignity and value of human life. The 40 Days for Life vigils will be held outside the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, the Royal Infirmaries in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and Ninewells in Dundee. It is peaceful, it is calm, and there is certainly no aggression or scare tactics adopted, despite what the mainstream media try to portray.

 
For those who claim that the 40 Days for Life event is anything but peaceful and prayerful, I urge them to attend the event and to see for themselves precisely the manner in which this so called ‘protest’ is undertaken by those involved. There is no desire to harass anyone, and there is certainly no desire to be abusive. It is better to witness first hand the reality of the situation, rather than buy the lies of those who would prefer that this vigil was something that it clearly isn’t.

 
There will, of course, be times when someone has recently undergone an abortion or suffered a miscarriage and, in coming across the vigil, they experience distress and upset. I don’t think anyone attending the event would feel anything but sympathy and compassion for those in such a situation. The pro-life movement would not be in keeping with its belief that all human life is precious if it did not feel for those who suffer and did not offer them support and consolation. The question is then whether or not, given these instances of distress, the vigil is appropriate. We can put forward a number of arguments for and against, and this will tend to be guided by which side of the abortion debate we sit on. But the reality is this…science is almost entirely settled on the fact that a distinct new human being with their own DNA comes into existence from the moment of conception. This human being is alive and is growing. The baby's brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form a mere 2/3 weeks following conception. This is why people participate in the 40 Days for Life vigils. They genuinely do not think that it is acceptable for the state to allow for the untimely death of an innocent, defenceless human being at its most vulnerable stage in life.

 
These vigils are peaceful and the only desire of participants is to see that all human life is given a chance. A chance to be someone: to see their very first sun rise; to feel the first snowflake on their hand; to experience the nervous excitement of that first day in school; to get behind the wheel of their first car; to find the love of their life; to perhaps even have children of their own. They may even be lucky enough to grow old and enjoy the perfect smiles of their grandchildren at Christmas time. This is life and this is what we seek to protect.



Because the state supports the killing of unwanted children in the womb, 8.7 million human beings in the UK never got the chance to experience these simple, yet poignant moments in life. No matter how much we try to deny or distance ourselves from that reality, we can never hide from the truth that abortion extinguishes the life of a beautiful, precious little human being who simply wants to be loved.

 
The 40 Days for Life is a worldwide movement and it will take place at the four Scottish hospitals throughout Lent from 1 March until 9 April. There will also be official opening and closing events, including one in George Square, Glasgow on 25 February. Click here for full details.

A Little Bit of Love for the Homeless this Lent

Posted on February 12, 2016 at 7:22 AM Comments comments (0)
A number of weeks ago I saw a great post on Facebook about making up gift bags for the homeless.  I followed this up with my own post on the matter and it was warmly welcomed.  But as with a lot of these things the impetus faded and I never really got things properly off the ground.


But thank goodness for Lent!  The season for getting up off my backside and actually doing something positive for those in need is here and I feel the need to respond.  Our call to help the poor is, of course, a year round one but Lent is a great time to really kick-start a new initiative. 


So, I have set about making up a small, but hopefully useful, gift bag for some of the homeless around where I work.  And I wonder if you would like to do it too?  Now I appreciate we all have various commitments and there are so many of you out there who will already be giving so much of your time to the poor.  And I know that there are already countless wonderful people out in the streets on a daily basis doing incredibly selfless work for those in most need.  So this isn’t for everybody.


But if you do feel the call to help, why not consider making up some bags of kindness and distributing them to a homeless person this Lent, and beyond?  I have decided to make up at least two each Friday during Lent and to take them out with me onto the streets, where I will hand it over to a couple of people in need.  All being well I will ask the person their name and introduce myself to them, so that I am not just thrusting a bag into their hand and saying ‘see ya later’.  That seems a bit impersonal and rude.  It’s nice to spend a bit of time with the homeless, even if it’s just a minute or two.  Maybe they have something they would like to share with another person, or maybe they just need to feel loved.


Suggested items for your gift bag

Your gift bag will, of course, go a long way to making someone feel loved.  In terms of what to put in it, I have opted for the following:

Gloves, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, Kleenex tissues, water, cereal bar, chocolate, fruit, chewing gum, and a few pounds if you can spare it.


It’s really up to you what you want to put in it.  The main thing is that you have gone to the effort of making it up and giving it to someone who needs it. 


And here’s a thought….why not get your kids to help you?  It could be great fun to get the kids involved in making up the bags and perhaps they can assist you when you go out onto the streets.  It lets them see you engaging with the poor and encourages them to do the same as they get older.    


I fondly recall one of the first things Pope Francis said as pontiff, he said that we need to get close to the poor and “touch their wounds”.  That has stuck with me ever since.  We need to “touch their wounds”!  That is an incredibly intimate and personal thing to do.  It’s also frightening and distasteful for some.  But if we want to be like Jesus we need to get on our knees and we need to get the dirt on our hands.  We are the hope for our poor people, and this small act of love and kindness is a real opportunity to let Christ’s love shine through us and out into the world.

This Lent, Come Home to Christ

Posted on February 9, 2016 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Lent is now upon us and we can all hopefully look forward to spending much time reflecting on our faith and our relationship with Jesus as we embark on a journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.


And while we have the option to develop our relationship with Jesus all year round, there is perhaps no better time than Lent to spend a little more time in the presence of Christ; one to one.  This Lent we are invited to get up and walk a while with our Saviour.  We are asked to pray more often than normal; to fast more; and to give more freely to those in need.  All of this can be achieved with the help of Christ.  If we take up his offer to walk with him he will give us the graces we need to make the most of this special season of Lent.


But what if you are far from the Church or have fallen away from the faith?  If this applies to you I would ask you to just consider taking a little time out this Lent to speak to Jesus.  It might be a prayer; it might be a question; it might be a concern or worry; or it might even be a simple hello!  The truth is….anything goes.  Jesus wants to give you the floor so that you can tell him everything that is on your mind.  The most important thing for Jesus is that you need him.  He wants to be the perfect friend; one who doesn't judge, who doesn't argue, and who doesn't impose any conditions on your friendship that you can’t handle.   


Consider popping into a Church this Lent and spending some quality time with Jesus.  He is right there waiting for you in the tabernacle.  It's no illusion, no trick; he exists right there and he is waiting for you to come home to him.


And if your lack of faith relates to the Church, remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners not a club for saints.  If you feel disgruntled or even distrust towards the Church, remember that it is Christ who founded it and it is Christ who waits for you.  He is the most important element of our faith.  It is through him that we will learn to love God, to love one another, to become better people and, ultimately, to be united with the Father in Heaven. 


This Lent, as you give up chocolate or alcohol, consider spending some quality time with your Saviour.  He has so much love to give and this love has your name written all over it.  Nobody can give the perfect love and peace that Christ can.   


Make a special effort this Lent to attend a very special appointment in your local Church.  You may not know it but Jesus already has your name in his diary.  The only question is: will you turn up....?

The glory of Easter: accepting and sharing Jesus' outstretched hand of love

Posted on April 2, 2015 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (0)
 
The next few days are simply fascinating!  The future of every human being has already been affected by what is about to unfold as our Lenten journey comes to an end and we find ourselves immersed in the incredible reality of Christ's Passion, death and Resurrection. 
 
With the exception of reading this article, stop whatever you are doing right now.  Take a moment to ponder the reality of what you are about to read and let it really sink in....
 
Around two thousand years ago a man was brutally beaten and killed.  He died before numerous witnesses, including his own mother and friends.  He was taken from the cross on which he limply hung and buried.  It was just another death followed by just another burial.  Except that several hours later this man woke up and walked out of his burial place.  That's right, he simply got up and he walked.  
 
Just think about that for a moment....
 
My dear friends, Jesus is the man who can give us eternal life.  He even said himself that he was "the way, the truth and the life".  And how can we argue with him?  We can't!  We just can't argue with a man who gets up and walks out of his own burial place!  
When all seemed to be lost and when a dark shadow hung over the reality of yet another poor soul lost to the ground this man did the impossible and got up!  Not only that, he went on to live forever!  
 
And if you think that's special it ain't half as special as him wanting us to join him!  He wants you and me to rise again just as he did!  Isn't that really something?  Isn't that the greatest piece of news you could ever wish to hear?  
Of course it is!  So let's rejoice in it!  Let's delight in this reality and follow Christ and his Commandments!  And let's tell others about this wonderful story of our salvation!  This is the kind of good news you won't find in the newspapers or on the news bulletins.  No, this is the kind of good news you hear on the streets; from people who are willing to share the news of our salvation with others so that they too may find joy in it.  It's not something we should keep to ourselves.  That's what secular society tells us to do.  But Jesus challenges us to share the reality of his Resurrection with everyone!    
 
Jesus died and rose again so that we too may rise after we die.  My brothers and sisters, death is not the end.  Jesus is offering us his outstretched hand of love with a promise of eternal life.  We just need to accept it and then be prepared to go out and encourage others to do the same.    

Jesus wants a little of your time. What is your response?

Posted on April 2, 2015 at 8:43 AM Comments comments (0)
'My soul is sad, my heart is breaking tonight
Could you not watch and comfort me until light?
Am I alone, surrounded only by night?
Could you not watch one hour with me?

Could you not keep awake for one hour with me?
Is it so hard that you should do this for me?
I die for you that you might always be free.
Could you not watch one hour with me?

And so I weep, and there is no-one to hear,
I am in pain; will on-one witness my tears?
I am your God, and as my passion draws near,
Could you not watch one hour with me?'
 
 
These are the words of Jesus.  He desperately wants your love.  So, what will you do in response?  Will you commit to spending more time with him in the coming days and beyond....?

The Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ....in Lego

Posted on April 1, 2015 at 4:44 PM Comments comments (0)
This is the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ as you've never seen it before.  While depicting this earth shattering event using Lego may, on the face of it, seem inappropriate, this is certainly not the case.

Indeed this is a very useful way to show children the story of the Passion.  You may even want to watch it with your children now.


Fifteen things to know about Lent

Posted on March 2, 2015 at 8:39 AM Comments comments (0)
 
What is Lent?  What are the rules for fasting during Lent?  Do you need to give up something for Lent?  Are you allowed instrumental music during Mass through Lent?
 
These are all questions ably answered by Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin in his great blog. 
 
Click here to learn 'Nine things you need to know about Lent': http://jimmyakin.com/2015/02/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-lent-2.html
 
Click here to learn 'Six liturgical no-no's during Lent': http://jimmyakin.com/2013/02/6-liturgical-no-nos-during-lent.html
 

This Lent, Come Home to Christ

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 12:49 PM Comments comments (1)
 
Lent is now upon us and we can all hopefully look forward to spending much time reflecting on our faith and our relationship with Jesus as we embark on a journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
 
And while we have the option to develop our relationship with Jesus all year round, there is perhaps no better time than Lent to spend a little more time in the presence of Christ; one to one.  This Lent we are invited to get up and walk a while with our Saviour.  We are asked to pray more often than normal; to fast more; and to give more freely to those in need.  All of this can be achieved with the help of Christ.  If we take up his offer to walk with him he will give us the graces we need to make the most of this special season of Lent.
 
But what if you are far from the Church or have fallen away from the faith?  If this applies to you I would ask you to just consider taking a little time out this Lent to speak to Jesus.  It might be a prayer; it might be a question; it might be a concern or worry; or it might even be a simple hello!  The truth is, anything goes.  Jesus wants to give you the floor so that you can tell him everything that is on your mind.  The most important thing for Jesus is that you need him.  He wants to be the perfect friend; one who doesn't judge, who doesn't argue, and who doesn't impose any conditions on your friendship. 
 
Consider popping into a Church this Lent and spending some quality time with Jesus.  He is right there waiting for you in the tabernacle.  It's no illusion, no trick; he exists right there and he is waiting for you to come home to him.
 
And if your lack of faith relates to the Church, remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners not a club for saints.  If you feel disgruntled or even distrust towards the Church, remember that it is Christ who founded it and it is Christ who waits for you.  He is the most important element of our faith.  It is through him that we will learn to love God, to love one another, to become better people and, ultimately, to be united with the Father in Heaven.
 
This Lent, as you give up chocolate or alcohol, consider spending some quality time with your Saviour.  He has so much love to give and this love has your name written all over it.  Nobody can give the perfect love and peace that Christ can. 
 
Make a special effort this Lent to attend a very special appointment in your local Church.  You may not know it but Jesus already has your name in his diary.  The only question is, will you turn up....?
 
 
For further reading and to see what tips Pope Francis has for Lent, click this link: http://www.focus.org/blog/posts/what-should-i-do-for-lent-pope-francis-ten-tips.html
 

It's SCIAF Wee Box time again, and this year your money is being doubled!

Posted on February 10, 2015 at 9:13 AM Comments comments (8)
Picture: sciaf.org.uk
 
It's almost time for the SCIAF Wee Box to make its annual appearance in our local parishes and this year is going to be a bumper year for the charity, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
 
This year the UK Government will double all proceeds to SCIAF, ensuring the charity will be able to help even more people affected by poverty.  It is a gesture which should not be understated and it is an opportunity which should not be missed! 
 
Please remember to pick up your SCIAF Wee Box this year and keep it in your home.  You may even want to consider taking one to your workplace to raise money.  It's all going to a good cause and it's all going to be doubled!  And remember, if you can't get to a local Catholic parish, you can simply click the link at the bottom of this article to donate online.
 
SCIAF is the official aid and international development charity of the Catholic Church in Scotland.  In 2012 it spent an incredible £2.9 million on development programmes in countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.  It provides clean water to millions of people and provides care for families living with AIDS and HIV. 
 
Click this link to visit SCIAF's website and find out more about the great things they do with the money you donate: http://www.sciaf.org.uk/

Only Jesus can save us from the grasp of the devil (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 1st February 2015)

Posted on January 30, 2015 at 11:56 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 1:21-28):

‘Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.’

 
It’s not difficult to imagine evil in our world. It’s all around us; wars, murder, violence, destruction.  Evil has enveloped our world and it can be experienced at almost every turn.  Yet,while it is easy to see evil and to experience it, do we really appreciate who is behind it?
 
While a willing human mind is perhaps necessary to carry out evil, it is the devil that is the source of evil; and he uses his power to force others to carry out his evil deeds in many different ways.  In today’s Gospel passage he uses possession as a means to wreak havoc and to attack God.  In today’s world possession by unclean spirits is still a reality and exorcisms occur throughout the world.  But the devil makes his presence felt in numerous other ways.  He destroys our love of life from the moment of conception until natural death by willing abortions and assisted suicide.  He chips away at the family by breaking it up and removing those critical elements of fatherhood and motherhood for every child.  He encourages gossip, cynicism, complaining and negativity among people.
 
The devil also comes to us in the most simple and innocent situations.  He encourages our laziness as we prepare for Mass on a Sunday; making us feel like the weekly trip to church is a chore rather than a joy.  He visits us in the evening just before we go to sleep and gently invites us to read another few pages of the latest thriller at the expense of our prayers.  He is not always forceful.  Indeed, his ways are often subtle and gentle; wooing us with a seeming beauty and elegance designed to capture our hearts and designed to thrill and excite.
 
The devil’s intention is ultimately to come between us and God.  He is a fallen angel because he wanted to be God.  And given he cannot possibly be God he now wants to bring as much destruction to God’s creation as he possibly can and the best way to do this is to turn God’s own children against Him. 
 
However, he will never win as Christ has won the victory on the Cross.  Good has triumphed over evil and God can never be defeated.  But our hearts can still be won over by the devil and he is doing his very best to ensure that this happens to as many people as possible. As we prepare for our Lenten journey this year perhaps it would beuseful to try to discern the ways the devil tries to get at us.  If we can identify his evil habits then we can turn to Jesus and ask him to defend us so that our hearts are never won over by the devil and his destructive ways. We belong to God and to God alone. It is He who has given us life and it is to Him that we shall return at the end of time to be judged.  Make sure that judgement has a happy ending.  Don’t let the devil have his way.  He wants you to fail so that you will be damned for all eternity.  Remember, you have Jesus on your side!  He is the only one who can save you from the devil’s evil clutches. 
 
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and ignore the subtle temptations of the evil one.  Keep your heart fixed on Jesus and make sure that your destiny is Heaven, to be reunited with your Father who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

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