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Scots Catholic

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Pope's message for 50th World Day of Peace

Posted on December 13, 2016 at 8:22 AM Comments comments (0)
Picture: zenit.org


Pope Francis asks "God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values."

Read the entire message here: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-message-for-50th-world-day-of-peace/

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.  

Where have all the Catholic men gone?

Posted on April 19, 2016 at 11:42 AM Comments comments (0)

A call to Catholic men to right the wrongs of a broken society

 
Here’s a question for Catholic men: did you know that you have the power to mend our broken society?  All the sadness and despair, the lies and deceit, the selfishness and infidelity; you have the answer to all of these problems.  The future of our world; a future of beauty, goodness and truth is in your hands! 


Confused?  Don't be.  Consider for a moment when the perfect world God created changed.  It was in the Garden of Eden, when Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and both she and Adam ate the fruit.  This is the moment everything started to go wrong.  This is the moment sin and death entered into our world.  But what if you could help to right the wrong? 


Jesus, through his passion and Resurrection, redeemed that fatal mistake made by our forefathers in Eden, yet too many in the world reject the redemption Jesus offers them; preferring to ignore it and to continue buying into the relativist culture that tells them anything goes.  A culture that encourages selfishness for the sake of one’s own wants and desires.

 
So is there something we Catholic men can do to bring people to accept Christ's redemption on the Cross?  How can we play a part in helping to heal the wounds of the single biggest mistake made by humanity?  A good starting point is to identify Adam’s first mistake.  If we take ourselves back to the Garden of Eden, at the very moment the serpent persuades Eve to eat the fruit and she obliges.  Where is Adam at this point?  Why is he not protecting his wife from the cunning serpent and telling her to do as God instructed and not eat the fruit from the tree? 

 
This example of Adam failing to protect and care for his wife is all too prevalent in our world today.  And such a failure has serious repercussions.  Adam, after eating the fruit, suddenly realised that he and his wife were naked and he no longer saw her as God intended him to see her.  Rather, it was her body alone that he could see.  His eyes could no longer appreciate Eve’s purity in her soul, that part of her which is the very core of her being.  Instead he looked upon her as an object for pleasure and gratification.  Does this ring any bells?  Is this not an accurate reflection of how many men view women in our world today?  Adam, created to have dominion over all the animals of the world and to be protector-in-chief of God’s creation, including his wife, had gone from a soldier for God to a man of weakness; a wretch with no backbone.


And so it is with us men today.  Instead of protecting our wives and ensuring their safety and security in this world of sin, we have let them become the object of our own selfish desires and gratification.  We, like Adam, have taken our eye off the ball and have failed our women.  We have failed them badly.


Catholic men can rebuild our broken society

Everywhere we turn there is infidelity, adultery, divorce, pornography, selfishness, violence, hate and intolerance.  The world is in ruins because of relativist ideals, especially those borne out of the sexual revolution.  But we Catholic men have been charged with making something out of those ruins; to take them and to build a pillar of love for the whole world to see.  We are called to succeed where Adam failed.  We have a duty to carry out God’s original plan for His Creation; that is to serve, protect and defend all that God has entrusted to our care, especially our wives and children.

 
We must see our wives as God intended; with a perfect love.  That is, the same perfect love we witness when we see Christ hanging from the Cross.  This, brothers, is the love we are called to show our wives.  It is not lustful, it is not selfish.  It is pure sacrifice.  We, like Christ, must be prepared to lay down our lives for our wives and our children, putting their needs before our own.  Only in living out this kind of love will we be able to repair the wounds in our society; a society that is broken, having lost all sense of what it really means to be in love. 

 
Our world today is full of love built on sand.  We have love built on lies, we have love built on selfish desires, we have love built on one night stands, and we have love built on adultery.  The result of this is broken relationships, broken families, and ultimately broken children who have never experienced the love they need in order to thrive.  Society needs strong leaders in love.  It needs an authentic, unselfish and unconditional love that is free from the horrid pain of selfishness and lies.  The sexual revolution encourages people to dip in and out of relationships as and when they please.  There is no attempt to encourage staying power, no attempt to encourage true fidelity.  It is every man and woman for themselves.  Yet as Catholic men we are called to be much better than this, much better!  We are called to be soldiers for God, bringing His perfect love to the world by living it out in our homes and in our everyday lives, setting an example for our broken society.  God is looking down at the earth and asking “Where have all my Catholic men gone?  Where are my soldiers?  Where are the men my Son died for?”

Christ's broken body is the example we are called to follow 

Brothers, let us be true.  True to God, true to our wives, true to our children, and true to our world.  Let us use our call to greatness, our call to be saints, to make a real difference to our world.  Let us never tire of striving to show the kind of love that Christ showed on the Cross, when he gave everything he had, shedding every last drop of blood for his people.  We too are called to give everything we have.  So, with a deep sense of prayer and trust in the Holy Spirit, let us go forth and be true protectors of God’s creation.  Let us be sure to love our wives and families with that perfect love so unselfishly evidenced by the broken body of Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross.





Bairns not Beavers

Posted on February 1, 2016 at 7:14 AM Comments comments (0)
Do you think that preborn baby beavers are deserving of greater protection than preborn baby humans?  I for one don’t, yet media headlines and public outcries suggest to me that I am in an increasing minority. 



Being a supporter of the right to life for all human beings, including the youngest and most vulnerable among us, I was deeply disturbed to see yet another public outcry by one of our mainstream media outlets seeking to further protect the lives of a species other than Homo sapiens.  It is an increasingly common occurrence here in Scotland and it continually drowns out the cries of the victims who really matter.


With an unashamedly deep anger I watched television on Sunday night and witnessed the BBC Scotland News headline claiming that the ‘rights’ of beavers on a Perthshire estate were somehow being violated to the point that they deserve further legal protection.  The furore has erupted because pregnant beavers were found to be among the carcasses of a number of the rodents killed in recent months.   I hear no such outcry for little human beings in the womb from the media and wider public.  It’s far easier to stay in the comfort zone of fighting for the rights of animals than to step out and dare to suggest that preborn humans deserve protection, that the choice to kill a baby human is wrong.    


In all honesty we must be the only species who believe it is acceptable and justifiable to kill off our own creation.  It’s absurd.  But what’s worse is the rich fervour and persistent activism that fuels the call to protect other species such as beavers and rare birds, while some unborn babies languish in their mothers’ womb waiting for the abortionist’s knife.  There is no such widespread fervour or activism for innocent human beings other than from the usual and same old sources.  There is no media coverage of their plight.  There is no public outcry to change the law.   


I’m all for animal welfare, but then that is not the issue.  The issue here is the lack of protection for the most innocent and most vulnerable human beings, especially when set against the kind of protection the media, some MSPs, and many in the public want to afford to other species.  In the UK alone, 8.5 million babies have lost their lives by way of abortion since 1967.


People of Scotland, perhaps it is time for us to realign our priorities.  Perhaps we need to start focusing more on the rights of our own species rather than getting too caught up in the rights of others.  Perhaps it’s time to focus on the bairns rather than the beavers.

 

One with Christ (Dwelling on the Word of God)

Posted on January 22, 2016 at 11:48 AM Comments comments (0)
Surrender and let Jesus shine out of you

Sunday’s (alternative) Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27):

'Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
Nor is the body to be identified with any one of its many parts. Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it.'


Do you ever think of yourself being inextricably linked to Jesus?  We often talk about the ability of Jesus to be with us at every moment of the day, wherever we are, whatever we are doing.  We often imagine him by our side, walking with us through the trials and tribulations of life.  But today’s reading gives us a slightly different perspective on our relationship with Jesus.


Today’s reading tells us that we are actually a part of Jesus.  We are one with him.  Christ is often described as the head of the Church, and this reading confirms that truth.  Jesus is the head of the Church, and always will be.  And it is us, the people, who make up that Church.  Together, as the people of God, we are one with Christ.  It is the most beautiful union between the Creator and the created.  It is a link of unconditional pure and perfect love flowing from the one who was prepared to go through the agony of the Cross so that we would turn from sin and recognise and appreciate this powerful bond.


As we start another week perhaps we should consider taking some time out to contemplate this great bond with Jesus, remembering that each time we do wrong we are doing so in his presence.  But also remembering that each time we do good we are allowing him to take control.  There is a classic saying ‘let go and let God’.  Maybe we should bear that in mind as we think about being one with Jesus. 


Perhaps it’s time to let Jesus do a bit more in our lives.  Make it your goal this week to surrender to him and let him take over.  Let him take on your worries, troubles and daily difficulties.  What use being part of Jesus if you aren’t prepared to use his perfect heart for love, his awesome mind for wisdom, and his most beautiful face to show how much you care?  What benefit is to be gained from receiving Christ in the Eucharist at Mass if we simply ignore the truth and goodness he brings to our very being?  You have the power to let Christ shine out of you, for you are one in him and he is one in you.  Be the loving Jesus.  Be the merciful Jesus.  Be the compassionate Jesus.  Be the Jesus who led others to the Truth.  Be the joyful Jesus!  Let it be.  Let Christ be.    

Seeing God's Creation in the Mirror

Posted on November 13, 2015 at 12:11 PM Comments comments (0)
 
Today’s First Reading (Wisdom 13:1-9):
 
'Naturally stupid are all men who have not known God
and who, from the good things that are seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is,
or, by studying the works, have failed to recognise the Artificer.
Fire however, or wind, or the swift air,
the sphere of the stars, impetuous water, heaven’s lamps,
are what they have held to be the gods who govern the world.
If, charmed by their beauty, they have taken things for gods,
let them know how much the Lord of these excels them,
since the very Author of beauty has created them.
And if they have been impressed by their power and energy,
let them deduce from these how much mightier is he that has formed them,
since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures
we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author.
 
Small blame, however, attaches to these men,
for perhaps they only go astray
in their search for God and their eagerness to find him;
living among his works, they strive to comprehend them
and fall victim to appearances, seeing so much beauty.
Even so, they are not to be excused:
if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge
to be able to investigate the world,
how have they been so slow to find its Master?'
 
 
 
It’s easy to take God’s Creation for granted, as this reading from the book of Wisdom alludes. Even looking in the mirror in the morning we fail to appreciate that we have been individually carved by God’s own hands.  Isn’t it an incredible thought?  At some point God has decided to create me!  He has then given me certain graces, qualities, attributes and, of course, foibles. He has then given me a family and has even made plans for my entire life, hoping that I will have the wisdom to use my free will to discern the path He has set out for me.
 
 
And what does He want in return?  That I acknowledge Him as being the One who made it all happen and that I love Him for it, desiring to return to Him at the end of my earthly life, and bringing others to know Him and love Him in the same way.
 

Calling Catholic Men

Posted on October 19, 2015 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)
Guys: don't be afraid to pick up your Rosary beads
 
In our mixed up world of today we are frightfully obsessed with pitting men against women and women against men. For some strange reason the idea of men and women teaming up and complimenting each other has been lost in a society obsessed with competing with one another and forgetting our most basic call to love.
 
 
The Catholic Church is a great believer in the complimentary of the sexes and the need for man and woman to come together as one flesh. And why wouldn't it be? The whole of humanity hinges on it after all!
 
 
First we had Paul VI and his encyclical Humanae Vitae, then we had John Paul II and his talks on Theology of the Body. And now we have Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix giving his view on the matter, as he focuses on challenging Catholic men to be real men for the woman in their life. Too many Catholic husbands forget their marital obligation and fall into the trap of thinking that they are more important than their wife. Listen up guys....you are not more important than your wife. She is far more important than you!
 
 
The temptations of the world are put there by the devil to lure men away from the commitment they have made to their wives. He desperately prowls around laying traps to seduce men and take their gaze and attention away from their beloved.  And if he succeeds he will not only have lured those men from their wives, he will also have lured them away from God. And that is his main aim.
 
 
The sexual act is at the very centre of God’s plan for humanity. His first instruction to mankind was to “be fruitful and multiply”. Why do you think sex has become so distorted? Because it’s critical to God’s divine plan and is thus the devil’s favourite point of attack!
 
 
With this in mind the call of Bishop Olmsted is one that is most timely and it is a call that all men would do well to take on board. While it may be hard to believe, the future of our society depends so much on strong men, especially strong Christian men rooted in Christ.  The Bishop suggests all Catholic men do the following on a daily basis: pray, go to Mass (where possible), read the Bible, and examine your conscience before bed.  He also suggests that men go to Confession on a monthly basis. All of this coupled with an unconditional and dedicated commitment to our wives would put the evil one well and truly on the back-foot. There is nothing satan hates more than a committed Catholic man, dedicated to his wife and family, who has every intention of sticking to God’s divine plan.
 
 
The priority of every Catholic husband must be to ensure his wife and children get to Heaven. Everything else must take second place.  And so, in the words of St Paul, let us “put on the armour of God [and] stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” 
 
 
 
If you would like to read Bishop Olmsted’s letter to Catholic men, click this link: http://www.intothebreach.net/into-the-breach/
 

Marriage: a reflection of the Trinity

Posted on October 2, 2015 at 10:19 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Sunday’s First Reading (Genesis 2:18-24):
 
'The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:
 
‘This at last is bone from my bones,
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.’
 
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.'
 
 
Excerpt from Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 10:2-16):
 
'Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’'
 
 
 
In these passages of scripture both God and God made man (Jesus) reveal the Truth of God’s plan for mankind.  It is a Truth that will mirror the beauty and splendour of the loving relationship which exists among the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The revealed Truth is that a man and woman are to come together, united through the sacrament of marriage, to become one. Not just one with each other but also one with Christ who is an integral part of the marriage relationship. 
 
 
Just as the three persons of the Trinity are one, so too do husband, wife and Christ become one through marriage.  Thus they become their own trinity, reflecting the most Holy Trinity of Heaven. 
 
 
And just as Christ came to earth to establish and grow his Church, husband and wife are called to establish and grow their own Church by being open to the precious gift of children.
 
 
And in marriage we are also called to mirror Christ on the Cross, by giving ourselves completely in sacrificial love to God and to one another, just as he did.

Satisfying the longing of a heart created by God

Posted on September 29, 2015 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)
Following Jesus will satisfy the longings of our heart
 
First Reading (Daniel 7:9-10,13-14):
 
'As I watched:
Thrones were set in place
and one of great age took his seat.
His robe was white as snow,
the hair of his head as pure as wool.
His throne was a blaze of flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out,
issuing from his presence.
A thousand thousand waited on him,
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
A court was held
and the books were opened.
And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.'
 
 
There have been many interpretations of this passage through the years and two of the most common are that the passage relates to either Christ’s Ascension to Heaven or to his Second Coming. The Church, through the Catechism, believes that the latter part of the passage is referring to Christ’s Ascension.
 
 
But whatever way this passage is interpreted there can be absolutely no doubt about the incredible power and majesty of that which it reveals. It simply never fails to knock me sideways! It is a glimpse of the reality of Heaven and it is a further glimpse of the reality of God beyond that which we have already learned in the person of Jesus Christ. I suppose the big question for us is: are we ready to be a part of it all?
 
 
I always think that this passage clears some of the mist which comes from cynical views of the Church, especially when it comes to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the reality of Purgatory. Many people don’t see a need for the forgiveness of sins, yet when we read this passage we can see that it makes complete sense to be completely clean and free of all sin before we are graced with the presence of God. The enormity of being in the presence of God is something we will only appreciate if we are granted the grace to experience it. But, at the end of the day, we have an inherent need to experience it because it is that moment, and that moment alone, which will satisfy all the desires and longings of our heart.
 
 
We roam around the world endlessly seeking that which will completely satisfy our hearts; be it in relationships, through material goods, or perhaps in traveling to other parts of the globe. But we are never truly satisfied. Our hearts always seem to be longing for something else, no matter what we may achieve or accomplish in life. And the truth is, we will never be completely satisfied, not until we are face to face with God. For God, who created each one of us, has etched in our hearts a desire to return to Him.
 
 
Our challenge, should we accept it, is to acknowledge God’s desire for us to return to Him and to follow that path laid down by Jesus Christ. For it is the way of Christ that will lead us home.

Essential Suffering in the Scottish Vocations Crisis

Posted on September 14, 2015 at 9:58 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Last Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 8:27-35):
 
‘Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.
 
 
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’
 
 
He called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’
 
 
 
Jesus was swift to chastise Peter because of his failure to understand God’s grand plan for humanity. What Peter failed to understand is that suffering was a necessary part of salvation.  Peter’s crime is to let the ways of man creep into his mind so that he tries to resist any notion of suffering.  It’s natural to try to resist suffering, especially in today’s society with the significant advances being made in science and healthcare.  But as Christians we are called to accept suffering as part of God’s Divine plan for our salvation. 
 
 
Consider Christ’s words immediately after he rebukes Peter: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  To follow Christ will entail suffering.  There is simply no getting away from it.  If we want to be true Christian people and followers of Christ then we must be prepared to take up our cross and accept any suffering that comes our way, trusting that God will use that suffering for the overall good of His kingdom and for the overall good of humanity.
 
 
Christ’s lesson is indeed rather timely when you consider the current predicament of the Catholic Church in Scotland, with a lack of priests and lack of vocations to the priesthood.  Parishes are now in a situation where they need to look at alternative models if they are to continue serving their local community; otherwise, they face the sad reality of closure.  The ways of man allow ourselves to become accustomed to having a priest at our beck and call 24/7 and to be used to having such ‘pleasures’ as daily Mass and daily Confession.  We despair at the thought of our parish closing or of having to share a priest with another nearby church.  We, like Peter, become upset at the thought of having to suffer.
 
 
But we must resist the temptation to think as men do and instead trust the Father, knowing that any suffering He asks us to endure is for the greater good of all people.  We must be prepared to think big and accept the cross of suffering with open arms.  To delight in suffering is a crazy concept to mere mortals, but then we aren’t mere mortals.  We are a people made in the image and likeness of God, a people destined for bigger and better things.
 
 
We must listen to Jesus and not think as men do but trust completely in God’s plan for us.  The next time we suffer let us turn to God, and with the helplessness and trust of a little child, let us say: “Father, let thy will be done.”