We are all very busy preparing for Christmas: there’s an obvious statement! And those preparation are now in disarray. Life is complicated. From the 26th of this month, mainland Scotland will move into Tier 4. The good news is that our churches will remain open. The bad news is that Mass attendance will be reduced to 20. And this will be so for at least three weeks. After that, we don’t know.
The Solemnity of the Epiphany is traditionally a Day of Prayer for Peace. A pastoral letter has been written by Bishop William Nolan, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland Justice and Peace Commission.
In a National Pastoral Letter to Scotland’s Catholic community, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland have highlighted “reasons for hope, as we live through these difficult times”. The document, suggests society has begun to rediscover universal human dignity, pointing out that when citizens were asked “to make difficult and prolonged sacrifices for the sake of the most vulnerable and they willingly responded.” The letter describes this genuine concern for the vulnerable as “obvious and beautiful”.
A message by Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB for Christmas 2020
The Christmas plans of many of us have been thrown into disarray by the Government’s announcements of last night.
These announcements are driven by a desire to act strongly and swiftly to curb the spread of the new, more easily transmissible strain of the virus. We can only hope they will be effective, and that the sacrifices we will make will truly serve the common good.
“O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity…” So begins today’s Collect.
This is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice”. The Entrance Antiphon quotes St Paul. He repeats himself in today’s 2nd reading: “Be happy / rejoice at all times.” In the 1st reading, from Isaiah, even poor old Jerusalem, so often bashed and bruised, says, “I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God.” In the Psalm we hear the voice of Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” There’s a sense of a choir coming together here. Even our vestments lighten up, and purple turns pink.
In her Magnificat, Mary sings, “For he has done great things for me and holy is his name.” At that moment, she is thinking of the “great thing” that she, a simple lass from Nazareth, has been chosen to be the Mother of the Messiah and conceive him by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Liturgy, moving forward, the Magnificat is read on the feast of her Assumption. There, it takes on another reference: the “great thing” is now Mary’s being taken up body and soul into heaven and becoming our intercessor before the Lord. Today – though the Magnificat is not as such quoted – we can think of it again. We can apply it to the uterine beginning of her life, moving backwards now, remembering the “great thing” of her original gracing by God.
This is an Advent more full than usual of fears and hopes. The grace of Advent is that it sifts these, orders them, purifies them, teaching us to discard where necessary and attune our hope to the promises of God.
Who was he?
A 1st c. Jew, a Galilean, born in Bethsaida, son of a certain John or Jonas, brother of Simon Peter. Like him he was a fisherman by profession who, at the time the story opens, was living and working in partnership with him in the lakeside town of Capernaum.
“Our Lady of Aberdeen” is the name given in Scotland to a remarkable statue which was saved from destruction in Aberdeen during the Reformation. For sixty-five years it was hidden until it was shipped to safety in the Low Countries in 1625. This book tells the incredible story of this unique treasure which now stands in the Church of Our Lady of Finisterre in Brussels.