Birds: What’s in a Name? By Fr Peter Barry


This entertaining and informative guide explains the meanings of bird names, many of which have fascinating origins and stories behind them. The universal system of ‘scientific’ names, based largely on Greek and Latin, is used in all good bird books and assists birdwatchers around the world in figuring out exactly what they are looking at. While some of the names are fairly self-explanatory – such as Troglodytes for wren, meaning ‘cave – dweller’ – others are mysterious – Caprimulgus for nightjar, for example, meaning ‘goat-sucker’. Continue reading

French Mass


A monthly Mass in the French Language is held at St Joseph’s, Woodside (Aberdeen) at 18:00, usually celebrated by Bishop Hugh Gilbert, OSB.

The next dates for the French mass are:

  • Saturday 2 February
  • Saturday 16 March
  • Saturday 27 April
  • Saturday 18 May
  • Saturday 01 June

Homily for the Three Cathedrals Service


“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 and gazed upon. He goes there “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Jn 11:52). Jerusalem means “the vision of peace”. Continue reading

Two Inverness Churchgoers Receive Special Papal Awards from Pope Francis


The Parish of St. Columba’s R.C. Church at Culloden celebrated the awarding of two Benemerenti papal awards from Pope Francis to two extremely dedicated and devoted parishioners.

Although the new church building at Tower Road, Culloden only celebrated its 10th anniversary on 1st November 2018, the growing congregation had been gathering for Sunday Mass services for over 30 years prior to that in the nearby gym hall at Duncan Forbes Primary School. 
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Bishop Hugh on Recent Beatifications


Bishop Hugh highlights the importance of reflection on the extraordinary people that have been beatified recently in Algeria.

Feast of the Holy Family


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…’ ‘Worried’ would be better rendered ‘greatly distressed’ or ‘anguished’. ‘We’ve lived a nightmare these last days.’ Then we can think back to Mary’s pregnancy and the perplexity (at least) that Joseph must have endured at that time. Then again, the drama around the census, the journey to Bethlehem, no room at the inn and the rest. Then the flight into Egypt, when all three became refugees and had to establish themselves in a foreign country. Continue reading

Christmas Day Mass


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 the moon and the Dawn Mass to the dawn. At this Mass, it’s as if the sun has fully risen and fills the sky. Recently, there has been a solitary violinist playing in Union St. He could have been a guest in the stable. This Day Mass, though, is like passing from a solo or trio or quartet to a full choir and orchestra. It’s less the magic of the child in the manger and the eagerness of the shepherds that prevail. It’s more the sense of the huge reality this child conceals. Continue reading

Christmas Night Mass


‘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 Mary, for pondering in the heart. There’s an old, unscientific tradition that at midnight, for a moment, the world stops turning, everything pauses. And there’s a verse in the Book of Wisdom that says: ‘While gentle silence enveloped all things and night in its swift course was half-gone, your all- powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne’ (Wisd 18:14-15). So, silence envelops the world, Mary wraps the child in swaddling-clothes, and something starts to enfold us too. ‘God’s grace has been revealed’, says St Paul. Is it that? Continue reading