Northern Catholic History Notes


Alasdair Roberts and Ann Dean’s History Notes chronicle Catholic life in the North of Scotland. From the fascinating story of Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries, close friend of Tsar Peter the Great, who rose in rank from trooper to full general, to the intriguing tale of Malcolm Hay, the code breaking laird, who headed up the War Office’s Cryptology Department in the First World War. Continue reading

Homily for the Ascension


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 Father from whom he came, taken in his humanity, definitively, irreversibly into God’s heavenly domain and into the fullness of who he is. He leapt, says an Anglo-Saxon poet. And in that “leap”, “the host of angels / … was made glad with rapture / with joy…[and] / the play of the prince became an eternal delight” (Cynewulf, Christ II). The disciples, too, “went back to Jerusalem full of joy”, rejoicing in the joy of the one they loved. Continue reading

Family Life Centre, Aberdeen


St. Mary’s Family life centre is a Diocesan Office for Family Life Issues and is to be used by the Holy Family Sisters of the Needy and their collaborators in line with their apostolate of caring for the poor and needy, to attend to occurring family issues like: crisis pregnancy, abortion mindedness, post abortion crisis, marriage crisis, barrenness, intimate partner domestic violence, girls and women in difficult situations. Continue reading

Homily for Easter Sunday


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 say: ‘Christ is risen! He is truly risen.’ Today we echo St Peter: ‘They killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days later God raised him up.’ We echo the Psalmist, at the entrance antiphon: ‘I am risen and I am still with you, alleluia’ and again: ‘The Lord’s right hand has triumphed; his right hand raised me up. I shall not die, I shall live and recount his deeds’. We must imagine Christ himself making these words his own. Continue reading

Homily for the Easter Vigil


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 estrangement from each other, our mental suffering and physical pain, our dying was turned for him into communion and joy and indestructible life.  I’ve never forgotten my parish priest saying to me, after a Good Friday liturgy: ‘How good to think he’s out of pain now.’ And tonight, at this Vigil, we can add: ‘How good to think he’s in joy now.’ This is the night of this Passover, his Passover. But because Christ is he who he is, it’s ours too. Ours too.  Ours was the humanity he took from Mary. ‘Ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried’, says Isaiah. ‘He bore our sins [not his] in his body on the tree’ [of the Cross] (1 Pt 2:24), says St Peter. ‘He was put to death for our trespasses, says St Paul, and raised for our justification’ (Rom 4:25). It was all ‘for us’, pro nobis. He is all ‘for us’. And so tonight is our Passover, our passage. ‘Let us pass over in the Passover of Christ, says St Augustine, lest we pass away with this passing world.’ Continue reading

Homily for Good Friday


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 hear the Gospel of your bitter Passion with our eyes and ears in the manner of a pastime, but that it may, with compassion, so sink into our hearts that it may stretch to everlasting profit of our souls.’ Continue reading