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Scots Catholic

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Jesus brings great hope, even in death

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

Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 7:1-17):

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


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


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


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

Scottish Government recognises value of the unborn child

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

 

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

Harambe the gorilla and the devaluing of human life

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

The Good News of Eternal Life

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


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

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


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

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

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

 

Catholic Love in the Community: Ambanja Girls Home, Madagascar

Posted on May 23, 2016 at 10:47 AM Comments comments (0)


Madagascar is a country riddled with debt, where the basic right of a child to an education is far down the list of government priorities and public expenditure on children is a paltry £31 per year, leaving very little for a basic, let alone decent, education.


The situation is especially grim for girls who are often denied any form of education so as to allow male siblings to benefit from the opportunity to learn.  Boys, it seems, are best placed to go to school to learn.  Girls, it seems, are better off at home.


Thankfully, Missio Scotland, the official mission aid agency of the Catholic Church, is doing what it can to help girls in Madagascar obtain some form of education.  Missio has supported the Catholic Home for Girls in Ambanja, run by the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, since 2004.  The home accommodates around 40 poor and orphaned girls at any given time and is a place where the girls can be educated and allow their faith to flourish in a safe, loving environment.


Sister Suzanne Mahavita, who manages the home, says: “Our girls are from poor families where there’s no money for school fees.  Even if there was money, boys get educated at the expense of their sisters.  Girls usually stay at home, caring for younger siblings and do household chores until they are of an age when they can marry.  In this sense female illiteracy far exceeds that of males.  But our local families do support the ideal of education for girls.  Our intention is to bring education to as many of the disadvantaged as we can.  We strongly believe it is every child’s right to be literate and numerate.”

 

Click this link to learn more about this project: http://missio.scot/cause/help-bring-the-miracle-of-education-to-madagascar/

Pope Francis: to ignore the poor is to despise God

Posted on May 20, 2016 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)
Pope Francis, during his weekly general audience, has slated those who turn their backs on the poor, suggesting that their ignorance means that they despise God.


The pope stressed that in the poor “we find Jesus himself: whatever you did to the least brothers of mine, you did to me”.


The message is clear: we are called to wake up to the plight of the poor and to make sure we never ignore them.  I recall one of Pope Francis’ early comments on the poor.  He said that we must get close to them as Jesus did, and touch their wounds.  Touch their wounds!  It sounds strange that we would put ourselves in a position to touch the cuts or sores, or even the diseased body of a stranger.  We may wince at the idea of shaking the hand of a homeless person, knowing full well that those hands could be carrying all sorts of germs that could make us ill.  But that is what we are called to do!  We are called to get close, because by getting close to the poor and the needy we are getting close to Jesus.  And we all know that Jesus will not cause us any harm or give us anything we cannot deal with by his grace.


It is also worth remembering that when Pope Francis refers to the poor he is not just talking about the homeless or the financially impoverished.  He is also talking about the poor in spirit; those who have perhaps lost their way in faith or who fail to recognise the Goodness of God.  We are also called to accompany these people, as well as those who suffer a more typical form of poverty.

Handing on the Faith Newsletter (April and May editions)

Posted on May 19, 2016 at 4:39 PM Comments comments (0)
Here are the April and May editions of Dermot Grenham's Handing on the Faith newsletter.  There is a particular focus on Pope Francis' recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia.


These newsletters are an excellent and extremely insightful read, especially for families.



UK midwives revolt following abortion announcement

Posted on May 16, 2016 at 9:01 AM Comments comments (1)
Children should be safe in the hands of midwives

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


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


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

Cathy Marwick

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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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



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


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


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



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

Pope Francis invites us to heed the call of Our Lady of Fatima

Posted on May 13, 2016 at 7:49 AM Comments comments (0)

During Wednesday’s General Audience Pope Francis reminded the gathered that Friday 13 May is the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, stressing the importance of paying heed to Mary’s words not to offend God any more than we already have and to focus our hearts and minds on abandoning ourselves to God’s love and mercy.


The pope said: “In this apparition, Mary invites us once again to prayer, penitence and conversion. She asks us to offend God no more….She warns all humanity of the need to abandon itself to God, the wellspring of love and mercy. Following the example of St. John Paul II, a great devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, let us listen carefully to the Mother of God, and implore peace for the world.”


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