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22nd October 2019
On this day in 1976, in St Peter’s, Rome, John Ogilvie was canonized. There’s a full account in the Scottish Catholic Directory of 1978, pp. 432-437. Andrew Mann read the 1st reading and Colin Stewart, here tonight as Dean, was there too, a new student in the Scots College. Last Sunday, 13 October 2019, in…
7th October 2019
Today we keep the anniversary of the dedication of this Cathedral. It’s great to have Sunday for this. In the Gospel, Jesus clears the temple. He’s asked for a sign. He replies: ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will rebuild it.’ He was speaking, says St John, of the temple of his body.…
15th September 2019
Today, as usual, there are three readings. Today’s from Exodus, 1st Timothy, Luke; Moses, Paul, our Lord. Three powerful readings. With one binding theme: the mercy of God. In the Gospel, three parables: a shepherd, a woman and a father, a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son. The last parable with three main…
31st August 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The idea of venerating someone’s bodily remains may not be appealing, even though there is good warrant for it in Scripture and Christian tradition. But the key is this: when we venerate relics, we venerate a person: someone who lived holiness in a bodily life and will rise embodied…
22nd August 2019
Dear Dominic, it seems no time ago you were being ordained deacon in this church. Now, here we are again. Another page to turn. Another moment in your biography. Not a small one, and full of a future. It has been a long, sometimes difficult journey for you. That has brought its own richness. Please…
22nd August 2019
Today Jesus says to us: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!’ (Luke 12:49-50). Clearly, these are passionate words. They come straight from Christ’s heart. Fire and…
21st August 2019
If you’re called Mary, happy Name Day! This Cathedral is dedicated to St. Mary in her Assumption. So, let’s wish it and ourselves and our parish a happy Name Day, and ask our Lady to continue to keep care of this church and parish, its clergy and people.
2nd July 2019
Today’s readings are Joyce’s choice: Paul to the Colossians and the Gospel of John, ch. 15. The verses of the Gospel just read have been called – by Jean Vanier no less – “the heart of the Gospel”. They come from Jesus’ last discourse when he was opening his heart, about to leave his disciples.…
1st July 2019
Today we keep Ss Peter and Paul. It’s good to remember them, say thank you for them and ask their prayers. They are very much part of our Christianity. They were there at the very beginning. They each came to know Jesus, differently, but deeply. One can say they fell in love with him and…
18th June 2019
“What do you understand by the Trinity? I understand that there is but one living and true God, and that in God there are three distinct persons, called the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. “But how can we conceive or comprehend this? It is impossible for us to comprehend it. In the simplicity…
31st May 2019
We are keeping a beautiful feast. “As he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven”. So the Gospel describes what we are celebrating. “He withdrew from them”: he brought to an end the 40 days of post-Resurrection appearances to his disciples. He “was carried up into heaven”: returning to the…
23rd April 2019
When has a spring coincided so exactly with Easter? The word ‘Easter’ comes from the name of the old Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Spring has been late this year and Easter has been late, and this weekend they’ve come together. The warmest day of the year and the best possible news for us! Today we…
23rd April 2019
Brothers and Sisters, this is the night when our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life. It’s the night he passed from the dark confinement of a tomb on the edge of Jerusalem into the radiant expanse of an unfettered and glorified life. It’s the night his share in our alienation from God, our…
23rd April 2019
Having heard what we’ve just heard, I’d like to share a prayer of a great layman, a good husband and father, an accomplished lawyer, a writer, saint and a martyr: St Thomas More, beheaded in London on 6 July 1535. It goes (modernised) as follows: ‘Good Lord, give us your grace not to read or…
19th April 2019
Tonight we begin the journey of the Paschal Triduum: our journey, Christ’s journey, a journey to the Cross and beyond, to the empty tomb; a journey with Christ, to Christ and through Christ to the Father. A journey we make together, with each other, with our catechumens, with the Church throughout the world. We go…
14th April 2019
Today is too much for us really, more than we can take in. There is the entry into Jerusalem: so positive, so promising. Here’s the Messiah entering Jerusalem, hailed as the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Then comes ‘the hour of darkness’ and in the end Jesus sealed in a stone…
12th April 2019
Should we make jokes about hell? Anyway, one is that in hell the British will be in charge of cooking, adding to the hellishness. Perhaps a prime example of our culinary ineptitude is our salads: a few dry lettuce leaves, some quartered tomato, perhaps a sliver of onion and some other detached green items. No…
6th April 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Easter is almost here. We might picture ‘Easter’ as a person, as someone coming to visit us. She comes with her cortege of feasts: Palm Sunday and Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and especially the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday – which then open out into…
26th March 2019
In his latter years, Mgr Robert produced – with Anne Oliver’s help – a pleasing booklet, Priests I have Known. Well, he is a priest all of us here have known and many more than us and over no small stretch of time. He was prepared for priesthood at Blairs and then at St. Sulpice,…
26th March 2019
Today Jesus meets the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well. St Augustine captures the energy of the story. “A woman came. She is a symbol of the Church not yet justified, but about to be justified. Justification follows from the conversation. She came in ignorance, she found Christ, and he enters into conversation with her. Let…
5th March 2019
Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB of the Diocese of Aberdeen invites us to consider using Psalms as a guide through the extraordinary time of Lent to reflect our relationship with God.
23rd January 2019
“Jesus went on his way …journeying to Jerusalem.” Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is the backbone, the spinal cord of the Gospel of Luke. He turns his face towards Jerusalem. He goes there consciously and deliberately, knowing he must fulfil his destiny there. He goes, we learn from the Gospel of John, to be lifted up…
7th January 2019
Bishop Hugh highlights the importance of reflection on the extraordinary people that have been beatified recently in Algeria. 
30th December 2018
Today we keep the feast of the Holy Family. And today’s Gospel recounts a dramatic episode in that family’s life: the losing and finding of the 12 year old Jesus. ‘My child why have you done this to us?’ This must have burst out of Mary. ‘See how worried your father and I have been…’…
26th December 2018
Every Sunday Mass, every feast day, has its own set of prayers and readings. Christmas, being a great feast, the second after Easter, has four. It has a Vigil Mass, a Night Mass, a Dawn Mass and this Mass, the Day Mass. The Vigil Mass one might compare to a star, the Night Mass to…
25th December 2018
‘There is a child born for us, a son given to us.’ Brothers and Sisters, after so much anticipation, Mary is delivered, the baby is born and Christmas is here. Somebody wished me for Christmas ‘stamina and wonder’. Well, this is the moment for the wonder. It’s the moment for quiet and adoration and, like…
24th December 2018
This litany is privately composed and can be privately used, or even publicly within the diocese. John the Baptist seems to me to merit a Litany of his own. I found some, but thought another need not come amiss. The invocations it uses for John the Baptist are almost exclusively drawn from Scripture. It is,…
23rd December 2018
There was once a Jewish rabbi who asked some of his colleagues, ‘Where does God dwell? Where does he live?’ They were learned men who knew their Bible, and they laughed. ‘What a thing to ask! Isn’t the whole world full of his glory?’ Then the Rabbi answered, ‘God dwells wherever man lets him in.’
16th December 2018
This is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. We feel expectancy rising, a sense of joyful anticipation. This Sunday is called ‘Gaudete’ – the Latin for ‘Rejoice’. It’s the first word of the Entrance Antiphon: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say rejoice.’ And that is drawn from the opening words of today’s second reading.
11th December 2018
Today John the Baptizer comes to us: wild hair and beard, camel-skin and voice. He’s a sign Christ is coming. He is his herald, his forerunner. He prepares the way of the Lord. He was a historical figure. He was a prophet, a spokesman for God. He preached to the Jewish people of Jesus’ time,…
11th December 2018
“To you, O God, I lift up my soul”. It’s today’s Entrance Antiphon and Psalm Response. It’s the leitmotif of Advent. “I” = all of us, the whole Church, all of us believers, in the midst of the world, lifting up our souls to God on behalf of everyone, all the people we carry in…
11th December 2018
When the angel visited Mary, she heard that the Lord would give her son “the throne of his father David” and that “he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” She was to be the mother of a king.
9th December 2018
Today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is not the virginal conception of Jesus by Mary, but the conception of Mary herself. It’s not Jesus’ beginning we’re marking today, but Mary’s. And we mark it, not because there was anything biologically unusual about her conception, but because of who she…
28th November 2018
At the Scottish Parliament last night, 28th November 2018, hundreds of representatives from various Catholic Church agencies across Scotland attended an event at the Scottish Parliament. The event was organised by Elaine Smith MSP & Anthony Horan of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office also supported by cross party politicians including Aileen Campbell MSP Cabinet Secretary and…
18th November 2018
Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are – forgive me! – a ‘species’ which evolved after the Second Vatican Council. The main founding document, called Immensae Caritatis, was issued by the Holy See in 1973. Its driving idea was “to make access to communion easier”. One aspect was ensuring that there are enough people, ‘ministers’, to…
18th November 2018
Brothers and Sisters, at this time of the year, the Church’s liturgy is giving us a course on the “last things”, as we call them, or “eschatology” if you want a fancy word. We’re being pointed to the future.
17th September 2018
Sunday by Sunday, we are following Christ under the guidance of the Gospel of St Mark. Today we come to a high-point and a turning-point. The high-point is Peter’s profession of faith: You are the Messiah. The turning-point is Jesus revealing that he’s a Messiah who will have to suffer. Peter gets it right, very…
17th September 2018
Today is the feast of the Triumph or Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and, dear Dominic, your diaconal ordination. It’s a good combination. And the Gospel says: “The Son of man must be lifted up.” According to St Paul in the 2nd reading, he was lifted up by the Father through his Resurrection and Ascension.…
15th August 2018
Today’s feast brings to mind an episode in the life of the Apostle Paul. It occurs during his second missionary journey, some twenty years after our Lord’s death and resurrection. Paul has arrived in Athens. ‘Standing in front of the Areopagus’ (Acts 17:22), he speaks for the first time to a non-Jewish audience, to the…
13th August 2018
We continue with Jesus’ Discourse on the Bread of Life from John ch. 6. Our Lord is saying amazing things.
6th August 2018
‘Lord, give us this bread always’. Brothers and Sisters, for a few Sundays in this Year B, the Liturgy turns away from the Gospel of Mark and back to the Gospel of John, the Easter Gospel. It makes a detour to John Ch. 6, the chapter on the Bread of Life. One could say much…
27th July 2018
Today we are offering Canon Stanley’s soul to the mercy of God and his body to Mother Earth. And so he makes his final journey. And we accompany him with our prayers. An enigmatic man in some ways, something of a loner, eccentric, prey to depression at times, a great radio ham, famous for his…
7th July 2018
The Ordination of Douglas Duncan to the Diaconate and of Emmet O’Dowd and Rafał Szweda to the Priesthood Stories about a Scotsman, an Irishman and a Pole are not in fashion these days. But we can surely give thanks for our three men and their varied backgrounds: one from not so far from the Lake-isle of…
3rd July 2018
Today we remember two great figures of Christianity, known well beyond its borders. Two lamp stands burning before the Lord; two olive trees; two founding fathers of our faith. Two foremost knights of the Round Table of which Christ is King Arthur; the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, as it were, of Christ’s United Kingdom.
26th June 2018
Today we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus’ forerunner. The Bible is full of birth stories. There’s birth upon birth, often with a touch of the dramatic and supernatural: Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Jacob’s many sons, Moses saved by the midwives, Samson the strong man, Samuel the prophet. There are towards thirty…
1st April 2018
Today – Easter day – there is only one thing to say: Christ is risen! He is truly risen! I hope each and all of us can say it. Let’s say it! [We did]. St Paul says: ‘if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised…
1st April 2018
“Why is this night different from all other nights?” That’s the famous question that the youngest member of a Jewish family asks at the Passover meal. Four times. And the question isn’t just said; it’s sung. “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
1st April 2018
Three times in the Gospel of John, Jesus said he would be lifted up (Jn 3:14; 8:28; 12:32). He was talking of his death. And that Friday in Jerusalem 2000 years ago he was. And today in our liturgy he is again lifted up. Today the Cross is lifted up over us, over all believers,…
30th March 2018
‘This is my Body which will be given up for you.’ ‘This is the chalice of my blood, poured out for you’ Are there any words quite like these? ‘Hoc est enim corpus meum quod pro vobis tradetur…Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei…’ That’s how I heard or said those words for 37 years in…
26th March 2018
Today we enter on Holy Week and Christ enters Jerusalem and enters into his Passion. What is it all about?
24th March 2018
Oil overflows, spills, runs… This is a very sacramental time of year. Today’s liturgy is a case in point. We recall the sacrament of Orders, bless the oils of Catechumens and the Sick and consecrate the Chrism. To quote the Pontifical: “Chrism is a sign that Christians, incorporated by Baptism into the Paschal Mystery of…
25th February 2018
Recently, I was in Washington and visited the Museum of the Bible. Its focus is the history, formation, copying, translating, printing, impact, influence of the Bible. It is new, close to the city centre, large, multi-storied, complete with a biblical roof-garden. Unbelievably, it cost some $400,000,000. It is certainly making a political point, but it…
19th February 2018
Today Jesus is driven by the Holy Spirit into the desert, and there he is for forty days, tempted by Satan. It’s a mysterious episode: on the edge of human experience, as it were; liminal, marginal, fringe.
17th February 2018
“[This] is the time in the vineyard of the Lord, when, at the planting of the new vines, the old vines are pruned, that they may bear more fruit” (from the Order of Penance, Penitential Celebrations for Lent). That captures what’s going on in Lent. It’s good to think of vines and wine and the…
14th February 2018
When I became bishop, I found in the house chapel a casket. Inside the casket were relics of several saints. Some of these were actually bones, one or two a few inches long. They claimed to be the bones of saints of many centuries ago. Recently, I thought it would be good to take these…
11th February 2018
The power of God’s word is what the today’s readings deliver. The Lord says to Moses, ‘I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them…I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him.’ ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’, says Jesus in the synagogue, and with…
11th February 2018
Talk to the Religious of the Diocese. I’d like to talk about the memory of God. It is a great theme. God remembers and so do we. So, memory is a place where we and God can meet. As consecrated persons we are called in an especial way to remember God, even to be a…
19th January 2018
That Gospel has not been read by chance. It was chosen for this occasion by the much-loved man whose life we are here to be eucharistic about: Fr. Bill Anderson, remembering him, giving thanks for his goodness and commending his soul to the mercy of God. It’s the Gospel of the good thief. It was…
11th January 2018
Epiphany means ‘manifestation.’ But that’s a heavy word. An ‘epiphany’ is an outburst, an explosion, of light and of a light falling on us, lighting us. This is a beautiful feast, and in the Church’s mind a great one. Listening to the Gospel, what happens today?
9th January 2018
Today is both the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve. This conflation brings certain people before us. They’re not Christ. They’re pointers to Christ. They sketch him. They draw the lines which tomorrow he will fill in with the colour of his presence.
6th January 2018
Message for the feast of Epiphany 2018 by Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB:  
2nd January 2018
Today’s Liturgy is full of good things. It helps us begin our New Year under the protection of God’s blessing. It helps us set our compass. Let’s look at what is on the table. It is, as we all know, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. On 8th December we feast her Immaculate Conception,…
1st January 2018
The Bible is full of families. It begins with a couple, and mentions three of their children: Cain, Abel and Seth. The story of the people of Israel begins with Abraham and Sarah and their children. Genesis is all family histories. The Gospel of St Matthew begins with Jesus’ family tree. The Gospel of St…
31st December 2017
We’ve come to Bethlehem. We’ve heard the words of the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest’. We’ve come down from the hills and found the cave in the rock where the animals are stabled. We’ve seen the child. We’ve felt the grace. I’m talking of us and all the believers throughout the world who’ve…
30th December 2017
How good to be in Bethlehem again! How good to be around the Crib!
24th December 2017
Christmas Message from Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB:  
23rd December 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, May I wish you all a joyful Christmas and a good New Year. May I also thank you each and all for your faith and fidelity. I would like also to thank especially all those who help the Church voluntarily in her mission here, in ways great and small.…
10th November 2017
In today’s Gospel (from St John), and others we have been hearing recently at weekday Mass (from St Luke), our Lord has been saying the one, same thing: ‘you are invited to a banquet.’ ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God’ someone said at table with Jesus. And he says,…
13th August 2017
The Gospel we’ve just heard is surely one of the most vivid and gripping of them all. It would make a great sequence in a film. It’s crammed with symbolism, too. Water and wind have a great place in the Bible. At the moment of creation, as Genesis presents it, there’s a great wind blowing…
3rd August 2017
‘I tell you most solemnly, unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.’
3rd July 2017
‘I came forth from the Father and came into the world. Now, I am leaving the world and going to the Father’. So Jesus said at the Last Supper, summing up his life in a sentence.
2nd July 2017
Forgive me mentioning a curious detail In 1895, it was a Bishop Hugh MacDonald – a religious – who welcomed the Religious of the Sacred Heart to Aberdeen, and now, 122 years later, it is a Bishop Hugh – also a religious – who bids them farewell.
2nd July 2017
Let’s begin from the beginning. God the Father has sent his Son into the world. And he sent him through Mary. ‘The Word (the Son) became flesh’ and received flesh, his human being, from his human mother, Mary of Nazareth. Under God, she gave it to him. And this divine humanity is the instrument of…
2nd July 2017
How can Mary help us? How can she help us in our journey through life, in our Christian life? How does she help our lives towards fulfilment, happiness, heaven? Because the evidence is that she does. Surely, each of us has some story to tell in that respect. The testimonies are many. The earliest known…
18th April 2017
The Bible is full of grief. There is even a book of the Old Testament, often read in Holy Week, called Lamentations. The world is full of tear-stained faces and hearts. It’s as though there’s a great oil-spill of grief floating in the sea of life, beaching first here, then there, bringing ordinary life to…
18th April 2017
Tonight’s the night. It is in a special way the night for Lauren Robertson who is to be baptised. It’s the night for Chisomje and Lyndsey being received into the Church. It’s the night for our seven others who will then be confirmed with them (whose names we’ll hear then!). Tonight’s the night for all…
18th April 2017
Three times in the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of being ‘lifted up’. And today this happens. Today he’s lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert. He’s lifted up like the servant in the prophecy of Isaiah. He’s lifted up as the supreme high priest who will go through to the…
18th April 2017
Tonight we climb the stairs to a furnished Upper Room in Jerusalem. Night is falling, but there’s a full moon in the sky, perhaps the colour of blood orange. And as we enter the room we see the oil lamps, the play of light and shadow on ceiling and walls. There’s a table with cups…
18th April 2017
Jesus ‘cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, here! Come out.”’
17th April 2017
‘We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.’ Today, 72 years ago, 9 April 1945, a German Lutheran Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was put to death in Flossenburg Concentration Camp, for his resistance to Nazi tyranny. On the eve of his execution he left a…
27th February 2017
Lent is drawing near and today our catechumens and candidates, Colin and Lauren, Lynsey and Chisomje, have taken a decisive step towards Easter. Today, the Lord tells us in the Gospel to seek first the Kingdom of God – exactly what our brave quartet is doing – and not to worry, not to be anxious.…
13th January 2017
‘It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation”.’ It’s a beautiful thing happening today. The soul of our much-loved Br Meinrad is being…
11th January 2017
There’s a piece of old-fashioned, common-sense human wisdom, which says that each of us has a ‘ruling passion’. Not a passion for steam-engines or jewellery or boiled lobsters, but something before that, something inside us, something in the maelstrom of feelings, impulses, tendencies. One will tend to be stronger than the others, will co-opt them…
9th January 2017
‘“Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!”’, says Jeremiah. ‘Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me: “There! I am putting my words into your mouth.”’
1st January 2017
‘May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.’
30th December 2016
We’ve all heard of the Scottish Government’s Named Person Scheme. It has not yet passed into law, but is being piloted in various places, including here. It aims to provide each child in Scotland with a Named Person at the service of that child’s well-being. It’s well-intentioned. There are occasions, sadly, when outside intervention is…
27th December 2016
Christmas works. Every year we have the same prayers, same readings, same rituals; we hear the same story; we see the same decorations. But it doesn’t pall. It’s always fresh. We can always be touched. As we get older, that’s a great comfort. I’m not so jaded that I can’t still be moved. ‘For there…
27th December 2016
Today is the feast of St Stephen. He’s the protomartyr, the first of many to give their lives for Christ. He’s a protodeacon, one of the first seven appointed by the apostles. He’s also the heavenly patron of the Guild of St Stephen for altar servers. This was founded in London in 1904 by Fr…
27th December 2016
‘No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.’ There are so many Christmasses, aren’t there? It’s tempting to catalogue them. There’s the retail Christmas. There’s the paganised Christmas of ‘winter festivals’ and ‘season’s greetings’. There’s the Christmas of politicians with…
21st December 2016
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali! Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan, Galilee of the nations! The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned.’
18th December 2016
‘Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.’
9th December 2016
One of the great Catholic “basics” is the notion of the “state of grace”. The phrase comes from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans. For him it’s the positive relationship with God we’re brought into by the death and resurrection of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s being made righteous and at…
4th December 2016
Four weeks of Advent (one gone already), four weeks of waiting. Mary had nine months of it. But she and we are in this together, however separated by the centuries. She was waiting to take the child she was carrying into her arms and see his Face. We are waiting to renew that birth in…
30th November 2016
“Their sound has gone out through all the earth and their message to the ends of the earth.” That is from Psalm 18. It was quoted by St Paul in today’s 2nd reading. Because of that, it’s a verse much used on the feasts of the Apostles. Their voice, their message has gone out through…
19th November 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters, ‘The love of the Lord is everlasting / upon those who hold him in fear; / his justice reaches out to children’s children / when they keep his covenant in truth, / when they keep his will in their mind’ (Ps 103: 17-18). So goes a Psalm.
15th November 2016
Today, we “close” the Door of Mercy. In Rome, the Jubilee of Mercy comes to an end next Sunday, when the Holy Father closes the great central door of St Peter’s basilica. In the local churches (dioceses), it concludes this Sunday.
2nd November 2016
All three readings today are from the New Testament. There is nothing from the Old. This is a sign that we are, in some way, in Eastertide. In Eastertide only the New Testament is read. So, tonight we are celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. We are celebrating the victory of Christ over the power of…
3rd July 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The recent Referendum has thrown us into uncertainty. Some of this, please God, will be of short duration, but other elements will be with us for longer. We are not used to this. The whole world, indeed, seems particularly volatile and tormented at present. Pope Francis’ call for a…
3rd July 2016
Drodzy Bracia i Siostry w Chrystusie, Ostatnie referendum wyrzuciło nas w niepewność. Jeżeli Bóg da, niektóre elementy będą krótkotrwałe, ale inne pozostaną z nami na dłużej.  Nie jesteśmy do tego przyzwyczajeni.  Wprawdzie, wydaje się, że cały świat jest teraz szczególnie zmienny i zadręczany. Wezwanie Papieża Franciszka do Roku Miłosierdzia, wydaje się co raz bardziej stosowne.…
6th June 2016
‘Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength”’ (Is 28:18). These are not words used today, but they fit the feast and fit the readings. And they fit us. We are made for rest.
27th May 2016
Living Christ is present in the Eucharist. Watch the video prepared by the Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert OSB for Corpus Christi
17th May 2016
What is happening today? Breath, air, wind; fire, flame; water, spring, river; wine, oil, anointing; energy, power, grace, fullness, life, light, love, gift. These are names and symbols – just a few of them – for the Holy Spirit.
14th May 2016
Message from the Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert OSB for Pentecost 2016
1st April 2016
Christ is risen! He is truly risen! In St Machar’s Cathedral on 19th March, the Con Anima Chamber Choir gave a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem. It was composed after the deaths of a close friend and of his much-loved mother. Brahms wanted to acknowledge all the grief of loss and yet offer consolation. He…
28th March 2016
On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus once cried out, ‘I have a baptism to be baptised with and how constrained I am until it is complete’ (Lk 12:50).  And, further on, he asked James and John, ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?’ (Mt 20:22). Tonight, Zoe and Robyn will…
24th March 2016
Message from the Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert OSB for the Paschal Triduum 2016
23rd March 2016
At the beginning of Advent 2015 I launched an Appeal for the Bursary Fund. This covers the costs of our seminarians, who are training to be priests for our diocese. As we now have seven seminarians the costs are high.
20th March 2016
Watch Bishop Hugh’s video on “Preparation for the Palm Sunday 2016”:
18th March 2016
St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, 17 March 2016. It was good on Tuesday night to admit Andrzej Niski to candidacy, and how good this evening to congratulate Canon Alistair Doyle on the 53rd anniversary of his ordination! ‘In our sickness we need a Saviour, in our wanderings a guide, in our blindness someone to show us…
11th March 2016
Watch Bishop Hugh’s video on “Preparation for the 5th Sunday of Lent 2016”:
5th March 2016
Preparation for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2016. Watch the Fourth Sunday of Lent 2016 Video by Bishop Hugh:
27th February 2016
More effective way of converting to God is by letting others to help us, rather than trying to convert on our own. Watch the Third Sunday of Lent 2016 Video by Bishop Hugh:
21st February 2016
We’ve come to the 2nd Sunday of Lent. Last Sunday we heard the Gospel of the Temptation. We saw our Lord in a desert, weak with hunger, tempted by the powers of evil. Today we have heard the Gospel of the Transfiguration. We see him on a mountain with Moses and Elijah and three disciples,…
20th February 2016
“Jesus was found alone” – Prayer is that we see Jesus alone in everyone and everything. Watch the Second Sunday of Lent 2016 video by Bishop Hugh:
14th February 2016
‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ This is how Jesus answers the devil when he tempts him to turn stones into food. It’s a famous biblical saying. It’s not original to Jesus. He’s rebutting the Tempter with words of Moses from Deuteronomy 8:3. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus simply says: ‘Man does not live on…
13th February 2016
St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, Friday after Ash Wednesday 12 February 2016 When someone becomes a monk (a novice), he kneels before the Abbot and community and is asked: ‘What do you want of us?’ The answer is a very beautiful one: ‘the mercy of God and your fellowship.’ The mercy of God and your fellowship.…
12th February 2016
“By clinging to Christ the Victor, the One who overcomes all that threatens and oppresses us we share his victory at Easter” Watch the preparation for the First Sunday of Lent 2016 video by our Bishop Hugh:
10th February 2016
“Light from light”. Fr Isaac, a good friend and the Provost of this Cathedral, has asked me to reflect on these words. I am grateful for this and honoured to be here. Creeds “Light from light”. The phrase comes, as we know, from the Nicene, that Creed which was elaborated at the Council of Nicaea…
10th February 2016
United with those in Rome, in Glasgow and throughout the world, here we are closing the Year of Consecrated Life. It has perhaps been overshadowed by the Synod on Marriage and the Family and by the Year of Mercy, but we hope it has had its own secret effect in the Body of Christ which…
10th February 2016
Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB message for Ash Wednesday 2016
10th February 2016
Today’s readings tell of extraordinary things. They tell of unexpected lightning, the lightning that struck Isaiah (1st reading), struck Peter, James and John (the Gospel) and, after the Resurrection, struck all the Twelve, another James, and the apostle Paul (2nd reading). Isaiah sees the Lord seated on a high throne, proclaimed by the seraphim, while…
31st January 2016
I’d like to approach today’s readings in a roundabout way. A family was hosting some friends to a meal. The mother asked her teenage son to go to the kitchen to bring something for the table. He said, ‘I don’t feel like that doing that.’ His mother looked at him, and said, ‘Hamish, it’s not…
17th January 2016
‘There was a wedding in Cana in Galilee.’ And Jesus was there. This is the Gospel of John, the Gospel with depth upon depth. ‘There was a wedding…’ And Jesus was there. There’s no mention in the story of who the bride and bridegroom were. Perhaps that might distract us. Perhaps they’re any man and…
9th January 2016
We’re told every now and then that we shouldn’t be ‘starry-eyed’. Thank God, the Magi were! I hope we are too. We can’t live without stars, without some kind of stars. There’s something sadly in how the night sky is dimmed by the light our cities produce. So, our own ‘lights’, our own ideas and…
1st January 2016
This feast really is a feast. It’s a well-laden table. First of all, it’s the Octave or 8th day of Christmas. The 8th day completes the circle and in a way takes us back to the beginning. So today Christmas Day returns. We have just heard the Gospel of the Shepherds from the Dawn Mass…
25th December 2015
‘O Cave, prepare yourself to receive the Mother who carries Christ in her womb. O Manger, receive the Word who destroyed the sins of all. O shepherds, keep watch and then bear witness to the awesome wonder. O Magi, come from Persia, and bring your gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the King. For…
24th December 2015
When I was a boy, my parents gave me a clock. It was a fine clock; it was blue, I remember; it had luminous hands. I put it by my bed. I had the sense that it was unusual for a boy of my age to be entrusted with such a fine a clock. But…
16th December 2015
Today, the Holy Door has been opened. The Year of Mercy has arrived. The prophet Balaam is called a “man with far-seeing eyes”. There is something of that to Pope Francis and this call for a Year of Mercy. He has seen a need, beyond and beneath all the immediate ones; a need of the…
13th December 2015
An American acquaintance christened his house ‘Love-in-the-ruins’. He has never vouchsafed precisely why. Apparently, the phrase – in the form ‘love among the ruins’ – goes back to an 1855 poem of Robert Browning. It inspired a painting by Edward Burne-Jones, was the title of a novella by Evelyn Waugh, of a 1970s film starring…
8th December 2015
Let’s look at today’s gospel. It describes John the Baptist entering on the scene of history. It’s a God-moment, an Advent moment. One beginning of the Gospel story is the Holy Spirit coming on Mary of Nazareth and she conceiving the Messiah. This is another, some 30 years later, with the word of God coming…
8th December 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Praised be Jesus Christ, our merciful Saviour, the face of the Father’s mercy! One of the features of a Jubilee Year is the possibility of gaining indulgences. Through indulgences, God’s mercy which has already forgiven our post-baptismal sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation extends even to their remaining negative consequences…
8th December 2015
St Augustine has some interesting things to say about the Latin word for mercy, misericordia. It is made of two words: cor and miseria. Cor means ‘heart’, miseria ‘misery’, or better, ‘wretchedness’, ‘misfortune’, ‘unhappiness’, the state of things not being right. So, he says, a merciful person is someone who first takes the miseria, the…
30th November 2015
If there were a litany of St Andrew perhaps it would go like this: fisherman in Galilee, son of John, brother of Simon Peter, disciple of John the Baptist, called by Jesus at the very beginning of his ministry, made an apostle and fisher of men, bringer of others to Jesus (his brother, a boy,…
28th November 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Advent is here. It turns us to the coming of Christ, his three-fold coming:  as the child of Mary born in Bethlehem; as the glorified Son of man at the end of time; and, in between, in our daily lives.
28th November 2015
‘The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds’ (Ps 145:13). And sometimes this comes home to us with force. What a good providence it is that the Daughters of Divine Love should be beginning their mission in Scotland, in this diocese, in this parish today! We are keeping the…
25th November 2015
This is a feast with a lot to give us. It’s like the DVD of that line in the Apostles’ Creed: he ‘is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty’. And the next line is, ‘from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.’ We see the DVD of…
7th November 2015
We are a people who need comforting. So it is. I think if we just pause and feel ourselves, return to our hearts, we will sense this. There’s a great yearning for comfort there. It’s the cry of our hearts. We early 21st c. people, we who are adrift on this strange sea of the…
3rd November 2015
Presiding Officer, Ladies and Gentlemen, Before being bishop, I am a Benedictine monk.  It was thanks to an Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1560 that the monastery I lived in became a ruin for 400 years! This Thursday its restored church will be re-dedicated. It’s a privilege to be in this restored Parliament and to…
1st November 2015
My mother died on this feast 9 years ago. I admire her for her timing! This is a great feast. It’s beautifully timed itself. It comes after the feasts of the Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension, after Mary’s Assumption, after celebrations of many individual and occasional clusters of saints. Today, crowning all that, we have…
25th October 2015
This is a wonderful Gospel. And like every Gospel reading it goes beyond itself; it includes us. Jesus at this point in the Gospel according to Mark, for some three chapters now, is on his way to Jerusalem. To be precise, he now has 23 miles to go. He is about to begin the last…
22nd August 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Last Tuesday, Revd. Dr. Andrew McLellan published his Commission’s Report, a review of current Safeguarding policies, procedures and practice within the Catholic Church in Scotland. This review was called for by the Bishops two years ago. We deliberately sought help from those outside the Catholic Church, and we have…
18th August 2015
Statement by the Bishop of Aberdeen, Rt Rev. Hugh Gilbert OSB, following the publication of the McLellan Report. As Bishop of Aberdeen Diocese I welcome the publication of the McLellan Report and associate myself and the Diocese entirely, with the statement made by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia at Mass today in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow, at…
15th August 2015
Today is a day of uplift. The Collect has the phrase ‘the things that are above.’ The baffling 1st reading talks of a child ‘taken straight up to God and to his throne’ – a reference to Jesus. St Paul speaks of Christ ‘being raised from the dead’, the same again. In the Gospel, Mary…
15th July 2015
‘She named him Moses because, she said, “I drew him out of the water”.’ Today’s first reading summarises Moses’ early life, the early life of Israel’s great prophet, liberator and lawgiver. The Exodus has still to happen. The people are in Egypt. They have been growing in number. The Egyptian authorities are alarmed. First of…
12th July 2015
If we think of today’s three readings as pictures to be hung on a wall, we might put the second, from St Paul, in the centre a little higher than the others, then put the reading from the prophet Amos on the left a little lower and the Gospel on the right also a little…
5th July 2015
I know many of you are from the south. I hope you’ll forgive me if I first say something about the area of Scotland in which we are – more immediately Upper Banffshire, more widely Moray.
4th July 2015
I ‘I remember the deeds of the Lord, / I remember your wonders of old, / I muse on all your works / and ponder your mighty deeds.’ Brothers and sisters, this is what we’re doing today. We’re not a people who forget. We are a people with a memory. We want to remember. We are educated…
27th June 2015
Is SCIAF in the Bible? The first answer is ‘Of course not.’ The second is, ‘Of course it is.’ The inspiration is. After all, we have just heard three readings. We have just heard that Gospel which has inspired centuries of caritas, of works of mercy. We heard that lyrical passage from 1 Corinthians, ‘the magna carta of…
26th June 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, This year marks the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie. It was kept in Glasgow earlier this year. Now it’s our turn. On 10 March 1615, St John went to heaven from Glasgow but, 36 years before, he entered the world in Banffshire. So, this coming…
13th June 2015
‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’ This feast comes in this month when summer finally gets under way; it comes in a time of light and warmth. It comes after we have lived through Christ’s life in the liturgy, all the way from his conception under Mary’s heart to his return,…
1st June 2015
Faith Formation Seminar, Bishop’s House, Aberdeen, 9 May 2015 [The passage is read: John 15:1-17]. This concludes our series on the Parables of Jesus. Is it, though, a parable? Yes, in the broad sense. Something natural is being used to illustrate something supernatural; a comparison is being drawn. And so, among others, both St John…
31st May 2015
‘Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’ These are the last words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew. They’re the words left ringing in our ears. They’re a great consolation. We are never alone! Christ has risen from the dead. Therefore, he’s not someone left behind in…
24th May 2015
I’d like to touch on three things Scripture shows the Holy Spirit doing. The first is from the Gospel we’ve just heard: Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ A link is made: the Holy…
17th May 2015
Sometimes, to understand the readings, it helps to think of them in their chronological order. If we do that today, the Gospel would come first. Let’s begin there, then. Where are we in the Gospel? We are at the Last Supper, on the eve of the Passion. We are in Jerusalem in Holy Week. Jesus…
14th May 2015
  ‘Lift up your hearts.’ We hear those words at every Mass. And we reply, ‘We lift them up to the Lord.’ It is thanks to the mystery we celebrate today that we can say this and do it. God the Father has raised his Son ‘from the dead and made him sit at his…
10th May 2015
‘While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners’ (1st Reading). That’s from the Acts of the Apostles. That book tells the story of the first Christians and how the Church began. Often in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit ‘comes’, ‘comes down on’, ‘falls on’, is ‘poured…
5th April 2015
‘This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad’ (Ps 117). Today must be a good day to be Pope. He goes out on to the balcony of St Peter’s and addresses the many people present in St Peter’s Square, and to millions of people watching him then and later. And he…
5th April 2015
‘Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water. Then God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.’ And when the Deacon brought in the Paschal Candle, he sang out: ‘Lumen Christi!’
3rd April 2015
‘Then they took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull or, as it was called, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.’
2nd April 2015
As the younger generation would say, this is awesome – this evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, this first moment of the Paschal Triduum. It has so much atmosphere. It’s all at once enchanting, festal, luminous, ominous, heart-breaking, intimate and universal. It begins with a ringing of bells and ends in silent adoration. Perhaps it…
29th March 2015
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ That is how our Mass began this morning. The first thing we do today – this extraordinary day, this day of contrasts – is to bless him who comes. And to bless means to say good things about him, to recognise who he is,…
28th March 2015
It’s a happy chance that our Chrism Mass this year follows on from yesterday’s solemnity, the Annunciation.  Ideally, the Chrism Mass is kept on the morning of Maundy Thursday – set in the Upper Room, poised on the brink of the Paschal Triduum, turned to the Passover of Christ. Even when we keep it earlier…
20th March 2015
I welcome the clear response by Pope Francis to the allegations made against Cardinal O’Brien, and the urgency of the conclusions that have been drawn. Indeed, it was the decision by Pope Francis to send a personal envoy, Bishop Charles Scicluna, on a fact-finding mission to Scotland last year that has enabled Cardinal O’Brien and…
8th March 2015
I’m most grateful to Bishop John for the opportunity to contribute to his programme of catechesis. I am here with a sense of privilege and with a full heart. My remit is to talk about the Christian understanding of sin and how the acknowledgement of sin opens us to the mercy of God. The Bible…
27th February 2015
… We’re remembering tonight St John Ogilvie, born in Drum-na-Keith in 1579, died at Glasgow Cross on 10 March, 1615, 400 years ago this year. A Jesuit, a priest and a martyr. Beatified in 1929, canonised in 1976.
21st February 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, As you know, the Scottish Parliament is considering a Bill to legalise assisted suicide in certain situations. It is our human, Christian and democratic duty to oppose this.
20th February 2015
Around the year 600, a Spanish bishop, St Isidore of Seville, wrote a book about the liturgy of the Church. For historians, it’s a precious record of how things were done in Spain at that time. For us tonight, happily, he has a few words on the Elect, those who at the beginning of Lent…
18th February 2015
Lent is many things. It’s a spring-cleaning – of our lives, our souls. It’s a stock-taking. Or think of a shop getting rid of surplus stock by way of a sale; it’s a time for ridding our lives of the redundant and superfluous. Maybe, practically too, a time for giving away what we don’t really…
2nd February 2015
It’s a privilege to be invited to preach on this occasion. It’s also a challenge. What to say and how? Consecrated life is such a rich, complex, sometimes heavy reality. So many issues cluster around it, so many roads run out from it. There’s so much history, so much present, so much, please God, to…
2nd February 2015
The Lord’s Presentation in the Temple is the last of the feasts of Christmas. It’s another epiphany. It’s a further unfolding of the Incarnation.
1st February 2015
Often the 2nd reading on a Sunday is something of a Cinderella. But it’s hard not to notice today’s. It comes from ch. 7 of St Paul’s first Letter to the Christians of Corinth. ‘I would like to see you free from all worry’, he says. Yes indeed!
25th December 2014
We’ve made it. We’ve got here. We’ve made the journey of Advent. We’ve arrived with Mary and Joseph. Here we are at midnight in the bright stable of our church, ready to worship the child. Perhaps just in from our work, like the shepherds. Not shown the way by angels directly, but thanks to the…
21st December 2014
‘Christ could be born in Bethlehem a thousand times – but all in vain until he is born in me.’ So said a German mystic, Angelus Silesius. Here we are on the last Sunday of Advent. Christmas is very close now. And – each of us one by one and all of us together –…
18th December 2014
This is the time of year we’re focussed on Christ’s coming. God has come close to us. In a quite new way, God has become God-with-us, Emmanuel. He has entered our world. He has made himself part of human history. He did this by taking on a human body and a human soul. The Word…
14th December 2014
In the middle of today’s readings, there’s a two-word phrase. It passes so quickly we can miss it altogether. It came in the second reading. It’s from St Paul. It’s ‘pray constantly.’ Two words in English, two in Greek. So quick, so simple, so easily missed. And yet, again and again through Christian history, it…
8th December 2014
‘O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son…’ So begins today’s Opening Prayer or Collect.
30th November 2014
‘And what I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake!’ Today Advent begins. It begins with a shout, with a cry – with Christ crying out: ‘Stay awake!’ Advent is a wake-up call. Four times in today’s Gospel, we hear that phrase ‘Stay awake’.
9th November 2014
Today is Remembrance Sunday. It falls, as we are all vividly aware, during the centenary of the First World War,. This takes our memories in a certain direction. That war was to end by Christmas, everyone said. Instead it opened a new and terrible chapter in history.
2nd November 2014
Why has God given us faith? Certainly, we may feel it’s wobbly at times. But let’s forget that for a moment. We do have faith. And faith is a gift of God. So why has God given us faith?
1st November 2014
Today, we celebrate all those ‘standing in front of the throne and of the Lamb’. Who are they? Surely, all those figures of the Old Testament, from Abel and Abraham onwards, and all those of the New Testament, Mary and Joseph and John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, James and John and all the Apostles,…
8th September 2014
Today is a memorable day. First of all, we are keeping the Nativity, the Birthday, of the Blessed Virgin. Its proper date is the 8th, tomorrow. But this church, when it was consecrated in 1509, was dedicated by Bishop Elphinstone to Mary in her Nativity. The titular feasts of churches are traditionally marked with solemnity.…
4th September 2014
Today we celebrate one of the richest, almost luscious, of the Church’s liturgies, that of the dedication of an altar.
26th August 2014
I am grateful for the opportunity to preach in this beautiful chapel this evening. Today’s is a famous, even perhaps an infamous Gospel. Certainly it’s one that has aroused much controversy. I hasten to add that I did not choose it at random. It is the reading in our and others’ lectionaries for this Sunday.…
20th August 2014
How many of us, I wonder, have taken part in a 210th anniversary of anything? To be honest, when I first heard of it, I thought it crazy. I still think it crazy. But I remembered that it’s love that makes us do crazy things. Something has shone out through all the preparations and the…
19th August 2014
‘O woman, great is your faith.’ Behind all three readings today, there’s one same thing: the great divide between the Jews and non-Jews, the latter also known as Gentiles or pagans or in Hebrew and Yiddish the goyim or goys. We all know how this division – through the Balfour Declaration, the Holocaust, the establishment…
15th August 2014
‘Blessed is she who believed.’ How fortunate, how blessed we are to have things like this – the Assumption of Mary – to believe in and feed our souls on! This is something so beautiful. It’s something so hopeful. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ Mary’s taking-up lifts us up, makes us ‘attentive…
8th August 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We are all aware of the conflicts ravaging the Middle East. We feel we should be more than mere head-shaking spectators. But what can we do? We cannot all do everything. But we can choose one thing and do something.
5th August 2014
Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, or of Great Britain’s entry into it. How few people imagined what it would be like! Pope St Pius X died on 20th August 1914, dying, it’s said, of a broken heart. As a holy man he sensed the horror that was coming.…
31st July 2014
This is the third consecutive Sunday we’ve heard the parables of Jesus – the seven he gives in ch. 13 of St Matthew’s Gospel. Today we hear the last three: the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price and the fishing net. And of these three, the first two are what the liturgy seems to…
15th July 2014
In the Lady Chapel of the church of Notre Dame du Finistère in Brussels stands a statue of our Lady holding the infant Jesus. It’s made of wood, oak, and the figure of Jesus of beech. It’s just over 4 feet 4 inches high, 134 centimetres. And the statue is venerated under the title of…
15th July 2014
Isn’t it good to be here? Isn’t it good to have expressed our love of Mary so publicly? And how delighted I am that New Dawn Scotland should have chosen Our Lady of Aberdeen as their patron!
29th June 2014
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, Ss Peter and Paul, pray for us, All holy apostles, pray for us. The Church is not unlike this monastery. Some bits are in ruins. Others are alive and well, and full of music and prayer. And we are that today!
28th June 2014
Talk to the Aberdeenshire Theological Club 20 January 2014 Introduction Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this venerable Club. It was about this time of year, last year, that I received your kind invitation. For liturgical reasons, the Baptism of the Lord was in my mind, and so I chose that. It is…
24th June 2014
Two familiar things can be said on this feast day of John the Baptist. The first is that as Jesus’ birthday falls just after the winter solstice when the days begin to lengthen, so John the Baptist’s falls just after midsummer’s day, when they begin to shorten. Christ is the rising sun. John is the…
23rd June 2014
Today we keep Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. It was in 1264 that Pope Urban IV mandated this feast for the whole Roman Rite. So this year is its 750th anniversary. Corpus Christi is a day in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, a day for contemplative focus on the…
17th June 2014
‘Is Christ divided?’(1 Cor 1:13). This was the provocative question St Paul put to that Corinthian community he so loved and suffered for. It’s the question that the World Council of Churches has put to us this year through our brethren in Canada. It’s the question echoing in our ears after the readings in this…
9th June 2014
Come, Holy Spirit! Today, Pentecost Day, Whit Sunday, we recall that coming at Pentecost in Jerusalem around 30 AD. We give thanks for it. We believe this coming can be renewed in all of us, here and today. And, enlarging our hearts still more, we pray this coming will be felt ‘in every people and…
27th April 2014
‘This day was made by the Lord; we rejoice and are glad!’ (Ps 117:24). We heard this verse in the Responsorial Psalm. It is used every day of the Easter Octave. Christ is the ‘day’ that his Father has ‘made’ by raising him from the dead. And through faith, we can run towards this day,…
20th April 2014
‘And is it true?… That God was man in Palestine, And lives today in bread and wine?’ So Sir John Betjeman in his poem Christmas. And is it true that Jesus Christ, on the third day after his crucifixion, rose from the dead? That he didn’t just return to life, but passed, in all his…
20th April 2014
How many journeys are reaching their destination tonight! The journey of the two Marys to Jesus’ tomb. The journeys of Elisabet, Balazs, Paul, Alan, Philemon and Philomena to faith and the font where they’ll be baptised, going down into the death and burial of Christ and up into his risen life; the journeys of Pearl,…
18th April 2014
We have just heard the Passion according to John. And how many ‘Passions’ there are in the world, going on in the world, how much suffering! Think of the Passion Syrians have been living for 4 years now. According to the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, there are now three million refugees outside Syria, and 9…
17th April 2014
‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it’ (Jn 1:5). Tonight we’re with the Jesus and the Twelve in ‘the large upper room, furnished and ready’ (Mk 14:15). ‘Night has fallen’ (Jn 13:30), and there is a sense of mounting menace. Judas will slip out into the night and alert…
12th April 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, This is a short Pastoral Letter to mark the beginning of Holy Week. ‘Together in Christ’ is the motto of this diocese, and together in him we are, as it were, going up to Jerusalem. We are going up to share in his Paschal mystery: ‘dying he destroyed our…
11th April 2014
What is a priest? That’s the first question. The second question is a terrible one. Is he a pervert? Normally not, emphatically so, thanks be to God. But there’ll be rooms he enters where that will be the unspoken question. So, what is a priest?
9th April 2014
‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins.’ We say that in the Creed. And tonight we’re proving we mean what we say. At the very beginning of Lent, I was struck by a reading from Pope Leo the Great. He said: ‘What’s special about Easter is that it’s when the whole Church can rejoice at…
23rd March 2014
‘Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat down by the well.’ The good news is: the well is still there. It still exists. It’s certainly very old. It’s 100 feet deep and is fed by an underground stream. It’s in the city of Nablus, in the West Bank, and it’s now…
16th March 2014
We’ve just heard the Gospel of the Transfiguration. It’s not what we’d expect. Such a contrast to last Sunday! Last Sunday it was the desert, a world of heat and sand and stones and dryness and hunger, and that strange grim battle between Jesus and the Tempter. This Sunday it’s a ‘high mountain’. There’s aloneness…
14th March 2014
When Jesus turned water into wine at Cana, the wine was the very best and there was a great deal of it, between 120 and 150 gallons – just for village wedding. When he fed the 5000, ‘they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left…
10th March 2014
Lent – these 40 days – Lent, Holy Week and Easter – Lent and the liturgical readings of Lent – Lent and the practices of Lent (prayer, fasting and almsgiving) – the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, which is what Lent and Easter are about – this whole thing in which we are…
8th March 2014
This is the first of our Station Masses, and a special one. Here are our 10 catechumens. Tonight they are being ‘chosen’, ‘elected’. They can now be called the ‘elect’. This is their name for these final Lenten weeks before Easter. If someone wants to be a monk or a sister and join a religious…
23rd February 2014
We’re continuing to hear the Sermon on the Mount. We’ve heard it the last few Sundays and will hear it again next Sunday, the last before Lent. The Sermon on the Mount is found in chs. 5 to 7 of the Gospel of Matthew. It comes at the beginning of Jesus’ public life – a…
3rd February 2014
Faith Formation Seminar, Bishop’s House, 1 February 2014 Today we leave Evagrius’ 8 thoughts and follow instead Pope Gregory the Great (+604). It was he who first listed envy among the seven deadly or capital sins. It is worth looking at envy. There is something distinctly nasty about it. It is a real presence in…
30th January 2014
The following is a copy of the letter I sent to the 22 MSPs whose constituencies fall within the area of our diocese. 30 January 2014 Dear  MSP I write to you regarding the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, aware that it is to be voted on next Tuesday. My concerns, which are those…
19th January 2014
King’s College Chapel, University of Aberdeen, 19 January 2014 Isaiah 49:3-6 – Ps 39 – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 – John 1:29-34 Last Sunday was the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and today is an echo of it. And, as a year begins, this can help us set our compass well. Jesus began his…
16th January 2014
Talk to Young Adults, Faith Formation Seminar Bishop’s House, 11 January 2014 St Benedict was declared a patron of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964. He has been long recognised as the father of Western monasticism. St Benedict’s life is recounted in Book II of the Dialogues of Pope Gregory the Great, written c.…
14th January 2014
Talk for Faith Formation Seminar for Young Adults Bishop’s House, 11 January 2014  Introduction This talk was advertised as being on sloth, one of the seven deadly sins of the Western tradition. But the idea of this series is to go behind the Western tradition to its Eastern sources and to go behind vices or…
12th January 2014
Sometimes one hears useful things in homilies. I remember one for this feast pointing out the many different forms water can take, how good it is at changing while always being water. It can be hot or cold, still or running, still or sparkling. It can exist as ice or snow or steam. Similarly, the…
5th January 2014
This is a beautiful feast. We don’t have to go looking for it; it’s very close to us. It’s in front of our eyes. Today is an explosion of light. Christ has both depth and breadth. His depth is his divinity, his eternity, his union with the Father. His breadth is his humanity. It’s his…
1st January 2014
Many things are being celebrated today – most loudly New Year. But in this liturgy many other things as well. It’s the octave day of Christmas, the 8th day. And the 8th day after a feast is both a repeat and a rounding-off, a final solemn chord.
30th December 2013
Today we remember that Jesus belonged to a family. When we say, ‘the Word became flesh and lived among us’, we’re remembering he became a human being. We do this on Christmas Day especially. Then again, he became a Jew. He was the son of a Jewish mother and was circumcised on the 8th day…
25th December 2013
We’ve got there. We’ve arrived. Christmas is here. ‘A child is born for us, and a son is given to us’ (Introit). The Holy Spirit works through word and sacrament, and Christ is born for us. All the grace of the first Christmas is ours today. We only have to accept it. ‘For the Lord…
25th December 2013
Isn’t this the most entrancing of all the feasts we keep? It’s as if there’s a procession to the crib already. It’s as if the carols, the announcement of the Nativity, the Gloria, the prayers, Isaiah, the Psalm, St Paul, St Luke come up one after another to worship the Child. And don’t we sense…
22nd December 2013
Christmas is very close now. To take Isaiah’s words, ‘the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son’ (Is 7:14). In some liturgies, during the last days of Advent, there’s a feast of the Expectation of Mary. And I think there’s a hidden question behind all we’ve just heard: who is…
15th December 2013
An old monk once told me this story. He was visiting a Catholic couple in Germany in the 1930s. They asked him if he would speak with their son. The son wanted to join the SS, and his parents were anxious he didn’t. The monk did try, but he got nowhere. And the son’s reply…
4th December 2013
Extracts from Homilies and Catechesis Isaiah 2:1-5 – Ps 121 – Romans 13:11-14 – Matthew 24:37-44 Beginning Advent Today we’re beginning Advent. It comes gently enough, but it’s not a small thing. It comes in our northern winter. In one way, winter’s just a background music and our life goes on as it always does.…
29th November 2013
Homily for the Dedication of the church of St Joseph, Invergordon 29 November 2013 What are we doing this evening? First of all, we’re crowning almost a century of Catholic endeavour in this place. It all goes back to World War I and the Naval Base. In 1916 Mass began to be regularly celebrated here…
17th November 2013
In these last weeks of the Church’s year and again, when that year begins afresh in Advent, the liturgy and the readings take us on eagle’s wings, as it were. They take us beyond what a poet called “this sorry scheme of things”. And so does Jesus in today’s Gospel (Lk 21:5-19). He’s standing in…
10th November 2013
Today is Remembrance Sunday, first of all. We remember the dead of the two World and other wars.  We remember especially the dead of our own country. But not only them. I read once that in the 20th c, it was estimated that some 165 million people died from violent causes. And this was a figure…
25th August 2013
What is happening today? I’m old enough to remember Westerns. And here we are, wagons drawn close, feeling our last days have come and our scalps about to be removed, when – lo and behold – the US 7th Cavalry appears over the hill. Here they are, armed not with carbines but rosaries. And we can…
17th August 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, ‘Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the…
15th August 2013
‘The Almighty has done great things for me’ (Lk 1:49).  It’s good to have this feast. It’s good that it comes as summer comes to its climax and the harvest begins. Christ is the ‘first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep’ (1 Cor 15:20), and now Mary follows him. It is the feast of ‘our…
11th August 2013
Since I was last here, three things have happened. First, we heard that a new Archbishop of Edinburgh has been appointed. He is Mgr Leo Cushley. I met him at least once at Pluscarden. By all accounts, he is very good, gifted and experienced man. He is a priest of the diocese of Motherwell but…
22nd July 2013
What good readings the Liturgy gives us today! The hospitality of Abraham, St Paul telling the Colossians how God’s secret plan has now been revealed, Jesus entering the home of Martha and Mary. In their different ways, each of them gives us a sense of God coming close. What they suggest is the great theme…
1st June 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today we are keeping the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. As part of the Year of Faith, there will be worldwide exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, led by Pope Francis in St Peter’s. We are all encouraged to spend some time today before the Lord, speaking with him…
23rd May 2013
‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:4). After Christmas and Easter comes Pentecost. ‘Today’, said St John Chrysostom, ‘we’ve reached the mountain-top of everything good; we’ve arrived at the capital city of all our feasts.’ At Christmas we keep the birth of our Lord; today, the birthday of his Body, the Church.…
1st May 2013
Reflecting on today’s three readings, it struck me that the first is about faith, the second about hope, and the last (the Gospel), about charity / love. As bishop, I often wonder: when the Lord looks at us, looks at our diocese, what does he see? What makes him smile? The answer is: faith, hope…
7th April 2013
May I begin with some liturgical catechesis. This is a Sunday of many names. It is the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Easter is a season as well as a day. It’s a season of 50 days. It begins on Easter Sunday and ends on Pentecost Sunday, eight Sundays in all. So this is the second, counting…
31st March 2013
Recently I was shown some re-tellings of the Easter story written by children in P2. One boy’s account was particularly accurate and vivid. On Easter Sunday morning, two ladies, he said, went to the tomb. The stone was rolled away. They looked in, and what did they see? Just ‘a tea-shirt, a pair of trousers…
30th March 2013
Peter ‘then went back home, amazed at what had happened’ (Lk 24:12) – the last phrase of the Gospel we’ve just heard. There is a lot happening here tonight, and a lot to amaze us before we go home. This is the night of nights. Twelve times in the Easter Proclamation, we heard the word…
29th March 2013
‘See, my servant will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights’ (Is 52:12). ‘See’ is the first word of today’s first Reading. There is something very visible, see-able, about today. Last night, Maundy Thursday, we were in an Upper Room, lamp-lit, shadowy. And the Paschal Vigil of Saturday takes place at…
28th March 2013
The Jewish Passover, Jesus’ Last Supper, the washing of the disciples’ feet: those are our 3 readings tonight. Tonight Jesus begins his own Passover. Tonight he sets out to bring the ancient Exodus of Israel to its final completion. It’s not a journey from one place to another, from Egypt to Palestine, but a journey…
24th March 2013
Here we are beginning Holy Week. Here we are going up to Jerusalem, with the Church throughout the world, with our new Pope, with those preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation. And the Liturgy opens up pathway after pathway for us: the prayers, the readings, the ceremonies… Each of them is like a link on…
21st March 2013
There is a lot happening in tonight’s liturgy. Perhaps we can follow one of the leads the Liturgy gives and fly like migrating birds, away from the cold and the dark and the snow, to a sunlit Mediterranean hillside and a grove of olive trees, leaves glistening in a gentle wind. It’s with olive trees…
16th March 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today we will all hear the name of our new Pope in the Eucharistic Prayer. We know it already: Francis. He is the first Pope to take that name, the first Pope from Latin America, the first Jesuit to become Pope. As a monk, may I add that he is the…
10th March 2013
There is a lot going on today. The 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday, after the first word in Latin of the Entrance Antiphon. Laetare means ‘Rejoice’. Couldn’t we all do with some joy at the moment? It’s also in the secular calendar Mothering Sunday. We all want to salute our mothers. And as Catholics we…
24th February 2013
We have just heard the Gospel of the Transfiguration. It has been the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Lent since at least the 5th century. Last Sunday we were in the desert, this Sunday we are on a mountain. Last Sunday Christ was under assault from Satan. This Sunday he is transfigured: “the aspect of his…
16th February 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We were all taken by surprise by last week’s news. It is many centuries since a Pope has resigned and hardly anyone foresaw that Pope Benedict would do so. Canon Law, however, allows a Pope to resign. Pope Benedict has done so freely and in a proper form. So…
20th January 2013
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11  We have been liturgically blessed this year. We were able to celebrate Epiphany on its right date, 6th January. And we have been reminded of all three of the epiphanies that traditionally make up that feast: the showing of Jesus to the wise men on Epiphany…
13th January 2013
Today’s the last day and the last feast of the Christmas season – the Baptism of the Lord. At Christmas, the Son of God eternally begotten of the Father is born in time of Mary his mother. At Epiphany, the Church is born in the person of the Magi. Today, each of us is reminded…
6th January 2013
‘After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came from the east.’ So, after keeping Jesus’ birth at Christmas, we remember these wise men at Epiphany. They have always fascinated the Christian imagination, and they can fascinate ours. Probably they were astrologers and astronomers (the…
1st January 2013
‘When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman…’ Today, it’s this ‘born of a woman’ that shines out. Today is the octave day of Christmas, the start of another year, and the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. ‘Hail, holy Mother’, says the Entrance Antiphon, ‘who gave birth to the…
26th December 2012
Had any of us been asked what to celebrate the day after Christmas, it’s unlikely we’d have suggested St Stephen. Suddenly we pass from the serenity of the stable to a furious theological argument that ends in someone being stoned and to a Gospel that tells us everyone will hate us. It seems a far…
25th December 2012
This Mass – in its timing, its prayers, its readings – has a different feel from the Midnight Mass or from the Mass early on Christmas morning, the Dawn Mass. It’s more reflective. Everything is calmer, less excited, more thoughtful. It’s as if the angels have put away their trumpets and are just gazing thoughtfully…
25th December 2012
What a wonderful night this is! It’s light in darkness, A virgin having a child, A baby in a manger. It’s the son of David born in Bethlehem, Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace, It’s splendour on a hillside, Angels singing to shepherds, Glory to God and peace to men. What a wonderful night this is!
11th December 2012
‘Come, Lord Jesus! Come, and save us! Come and set us free!’ This is what we pray in Advent. We call on Christ to come and save us. Christ saves us from two things, sin and death.  Sin is turning away from God. “Where are you?” God asks Adam. He’s no longer in the place…
18th October 2012
Talk given at the Benedictine Monastery of Kornelimuenster, Germany on 26 August 2012.  Thank you for the opportunity to address this subject, and especially on such a memorable occasion- the golden jubilees of Abbot Albert and Br Egilhard. For 19 years I was Abbot of a Benedictine monastery in the diocese of Aberdeen in Scotland. Now…
15th October 2012
St Mary’s Cathedral, 11 October 2012; St Mary’s, Inverness, 12 October 2012 (The readings for these Masses were drawn from the Mass for the Spread of the Gospel / the Evangelisation of Peoples, and were Zechariah 8:20-23; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Matthew 28:16-20).  ‘The Lord of hosts says this. In those day ten men of nations…
5th October 2012
Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB, Bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland, speaks to the Newman Association about the Year of Faith on Thursday 4th October 2012.
26th June 2012
‘His name is John’ (Lk 1:63). Today we keep the birthday of this John, John the Baptiser. After our Lord, the Church keeps the earthly birthdays only of Mary and of John. So, six months and a day before the birth of our Lord, we are keeping the birthday of his cousin, the one who…
13th June 2012
Princess Elizabeth came of age – 21 in those days – during her 1947 tour of South Africa. In a broadcast marking the occasion, she said this: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial…
12th June 2012
The Liturgy is always full of signs and symbols, but especially tonight. I’d like to take three: a ring with a dragon, night, and water.
30th March 2012
Since 2002, the new Missal has offered a second Opening Prayer or Collect for today – the Friday of the 5th week of Lent. It was used at the beginning of the Mass – for the first time in English, since it only became available in translation with the recent English Missal. Its reference  to…
29th March 2012
‘The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me’ (Is 61:1; Lk 4:18).  The parish of Buckie is known for its music. And it’s hard not to think of this Isaian line in musical terms. First, we hear it from the prophet himself, like a flute solo. Then in…
10th March 2012
St John Ogilvie was a son of this diocese of Aberdeen and born within the bounds of this parish of Keith, and it is always good to honour him. He was so ‘tempered and true’. How can we not admire a man like this? He was indeed a ‘sword of supple steel’ in the hand…
18th February 2012
At 7 pm on first Saturday of each month there is a series of seminars to be hosted at Bishop’s House. These seminars will offer opportunities for deeper formation in the faith for those aged 18 to 35. Seminars will run from Advent to Pentecost (December 2011 to June 2012). The Catechism of the Catholic…
25th December 2011
 I know an American gentleman who calls his house, ‘Love-in-the-ruins’. I’ve never asked him why. But certainly it’s not the kind of name you forget.  If you look at Renaissance paintings of the Nativity, often the stable is shown as dilapidated, ruined. It’s a symbol of course of the world, of us. And there in…
24th December 2011
This night is so full of light and colour and warmth, of poetry, story and song, of memories and comfort and hope. Our hearts overflow! Even if there were only a few of us, we would feel this, I think. But all the more when there are so many, when the world in miniature seems…
10th December 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters, We live in a noisy world. Our towns and cities are full of noise. There is noise in the skies and on the roads. There is noise in our homes, and even in our churches. And most of all there is noise in our minds and hearts.
3rd October 2011
‘Lord’, asks Peter, ‘do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ And the Lord asks in return, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise steward…?’ (Lk 12:41-42). ‘Who then..?’ Once about 33 years ago two young monks were walking along a Highland track, not far from Loch Ness. One of them was he…
3rd September 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Peace be with you. It is a great grace to have become your Bishop. Thank you for the warm welcome I have received from so many and please pray that the Holy Spirit, given me in Ordination, may fill and guide me, so that together in Christ we can worship the…
17th August 2011
The first word can only be one of thanks. And in the first place, with Mary, to Almighty God. This is a day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!