Pastoral Letter for Communications Sunday

50TH  WORLD  COMMUNICATIONS  DAY

My Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

This year’s Communications Sunday message is addressed to us during the Holy Year of Mercy and in his theme, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on the relationship between communication and mercy.

At first sight, that may seem an odd request, we may think of communications as purely functional;  the means by which we impart or convey information to one another.   It may be difficult to see how the transmission of ideas or information can be merciful or otherwise.

If we think for a moment, however, it is clear that mercy is very much a part of all that we do and importantly, of what we say.   As the Pope’s puts it:  “What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all.   Love, by its nature, is communication;  it leads to openness and sharing.   If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched by God’s own power.”

The need to speak with care and compassion is especially important in the digital world of social media.   As Christians we must always build bridges and open doors to dialogue and understanding.   The immediacy and instantaneousness of social media can sometimes tempt us towards angry exchanges and aggressive language.   Hurling insults and abuse will simply entrench misunderstanding and close hearts and minds.

As Pope Francis reminds us, when communicating digitally, we may not see the person we are engaging with, but the dignity and respect we bring to our actual encounters should always be present in our digital ones.

On this Communications Sunday I ask you to consider if you always communicate with mercy and if not, to pay attention to the needs of those we communicate with, always remembering their innate human dignity.

I also ask you to give your support to those employed by the Church to communicate her message to a wider audience.   They need your prayers and rely on your generosity to fulfil the responsibilities placed upon them.

I thank you on behalf of the Bishops of Scotland for your willingness to support the work of our communicators within the church and I hope that you will keep them and the work that you do in your prayers.

Yours devotedly in Christ

+Philip Tartaglia
Archbishop of Glasgow
President, Communications Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

This joyful Easter tide…

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Eastertide is the time of new life. Our Saviour’s in the first place, living for ever a life which belongs no more to the earth and which one day we shall share with Him in heaven. And then our own lives — from Christ to us — for we have more than the assurance of rejoining Him; snatched by Him from the power of the devil we belong to Him as His by right of conquest and we share His life.

DIRECTIONS

Easter week is the week of the baptised. They have passed from death to life, from the darkness of sin to the life of grace in the light of Christ. Wherever there are neophytes, the Easter season, and particularly the first week, is the period of postbaptismal catechesis or mystogogy The community shares with them a deepening understanding of the paschal mystery and an ever greater assimilation of it in daily life through meditation, participation in the Eucharist, and the practice of charity.

The moral requirements of the new life are recalled throughout Eastertide. They are governed by the principle enunciated by St. Paul that, risen with Christ, the Christian must raise his desires to heaven, detach himself from earthly pleasures in order to love those of heaven. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to complete the formation in the baptized of the “new man” who, by the holiness of his life, bears witness to Christ crucified.

The Fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one “great Sunday.”

These above all others are the days for the singing of the Alleluia.

The Sundays of this season rank as the paschal Sundays and, after Easter Sunday itself, are called the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter. The period of fifty sacred days ends on Pentecost Sunday. The first eight days of the Easter Season make up the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord.

On the fortieth day after Easter the Ascension is celebrated, except in places where, not being a holy day of obligation, it has been transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. This solemnity directs our attention to Christ, who ascended into heaven before the eyes of his disciples, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father, invested with royal power, who is there to prepare a place for us in the kingdom of heaven; and who is destined to come again at the end of time.

The weekdays after the Ascension until the Saturday before Pentecost inclusive are a preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

This sacred season of fifty days comes to an end on Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, the beginnings of the Church and its mission to every tongue and people and nation. (Excerpted from the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Ceremonial of Bishops)

Lent in the Year of Mercy

thNow that we have marked Ash Wednesday and the start of the Holy Season of Lent, it may be useful to remind ourselves of what Lent is about and learn (or re-discover) some of the wonderful things we can do, to assist in our making the most of this season.

A useful resource for giving different suggestions of activities, can be found on the website of the Bishop’s Conference of the USA: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/upload/lent-2016-calendar.pdf

In his second encyclical as Pope, St. John Paul II writes,  (in Dives in Misericordia) “mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man” (DM, 6). This means that we are merciful when we respond to evil with good. We see this lesson first taught by Jesus as He tells us to turn the other cheek and shows us the application of this by bringing humanity eternal life from His Death. At the end of each Lent we celebrate this gift in particular by meditating on the evil brought upon the Son of God during Holy Week, and then the good He brings out of this evil through His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

God has shown us His Mercy. He has brought the greatest good from the greatest evil. In our Christian life, we must strive to imitate God and love like He loves and “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).  It’s good to note that we cannot do evil to bring about good, but in the face of the evil that we experience we must only respond with good.

Ideas for the Lent of Mercy

The tradition of Lent, is offering sacrifices and sufferings up as penance for the forgiveness of sins. This truth of Redemptive Suffering allows us to make up for the wrongs we have done as we rejoice in our sufferings, and in our flesh “complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col. 1:24). We are able to do penance for our sins and the sins of others and, in a way, participate in the Mercy of God. This could include offering up every suffering as a sacrifice throughout your day. Some ideas could be:

  • Getting up at the first alarm and offering it for someone you know who is struggling
  • Saying yes to anything (reasonable) others ask of you and offering it up for them
  • Letting people in front of you in traffic and praying for them at the same time
  • Take cold showers and offer it up for friends and family
  • Put a pebble in your shoe and offer it up for priests and religious
  • When you have the choice, pick foods you want the least and offer this up for those who are spiritually poor
  • Go on a spending freeze. Practice the spirit of poverty by not buying anything that is not absolutely essential
  • Maintain silence. This can include not turning on the radio and not always speaking freely your thoughts and opinions. Practice the virtue of silence and grow in your ability to really listen to others
  • Fast on bread and water on certain days to master your will

The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy taught by the Church show us many ways to bring good from the bad. We could make it a goal to intentionally seek ways to practice these works this Lent. This will include:

Corporal Works of Mercy-

1) Feed the hungry

2) Give drink to the thirsty

3) Clothe the naked

4) Shelter the homeless

5) Visit the sick

6) Visit the imprisoned

7) Bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy-

1) Counsel the doubtful

2) Instruct the ignorant

3) Admonish sinners

4) Comfort the afflicted

5) Forgive offenses

6) Bear wrongs patiently

7) Pray for the living and the dead

Be Merciful to Jesus

We can be merciful to Jesus this Lent. St. John Paul II explains, “Christ, precisely as the crucified one, is the Word that does not pass away, and He is the one who stands at the door and knocks at the heart of every man, without restricting his freedom, but instead seeking to draw from this very freedom love, which is not only an act of solidarity with the suffering Son of man, but also a kind of ‘mercy’ shown by each one of us to the Son of the eternal Father” (DM, 8). We show Christ mercy by loving Him. We can love him through seeking to nourish our relationship with Him and by avoiding sins that hurt our relationship with Him.

I am sure that we can come up with a plethora of ideas, but here are a few to help:

-Daily Rosary

-The Divine Mercy Chaplet recited at 3.00pm (Publicly in the JPII Oratory in Rosyth on a Friday)

-Time in Adoration (either exposed on the altar or reposed in the tabernacle)

-Daily reading of Scripture

-The Stations of the Cross

-Frequenting the Sacraments

-Consecration to Jesus through Mary by the St. Louis de Montfort method.

 

 

Extra ordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy

  • thIn May 2015, Pope Francis declared that there would be a Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016. Obviously, this is not a calendar year, but a special church year that extends from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2015 to the Feast of Christ the King in 2016, the last Sunday before the start of Advent.

    The practice of a jubilee year has ancient roots in the Jewish tradition and evidence for it can be found in the Old Testament (for example, see Leviticus 25).  The jubilee year was called every fifty years and was a time for forgiveness.  It stood as a reminder of God’s providence and mercy.  The dedication of a year for this emphasis provided the community with a time to come back into right relationship with one another and with God.  As the practice of the jubilee year was adopted into the Catholic Church, these themes of mercy, forgiveness, and solidarity continued and the jubilee year is celebrated every 25 years.

    However, Pope Francis has declared this an Extraordinary Jubilee Year, because it falls outside the 25-year cycle in order to emphasize the need to direct our attention to need for Mercy.

    Why a Year of Mercy?

    Pope Francis said he declared this year of mercy to direct our attention and actions “on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s actions in our lives . . . a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.” He also said:

    “Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy. It is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. May the Mother of God open our eyes, so that we may comprehend the task to which we have been called; and may she obtain for us the grace to experience this Jubilee of Mercy as faithful and fruitful witnesses of Christ.”

Today’s Feast – the Holy Innocents

rubens-massacre-of-the-holy-innocents.jpegHerod “the Great,” king of Judea, was unpopular with his people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference. Hence he was insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne. He was a master politician and a tyrant capable of extreme brutality. He killed his wife, his brother and his sister’s two husbands, to name only a few.

Matthew 2:1-18 tells this story: Herod was “greatly troubled” when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of “the newborn king of the Jews,” whose star they had seen. They were told that the Jewish Scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also “do him homage.” They found Jesus, offered him their gifts and, warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home. Jesus escaped to Egypt.

Herod became furious and “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the mothers and fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children…” (Matthew 2:18). Rachel was the wife of Jacob/Israel. She is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites were herded together by the conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity.

The Holy Innocents are few, in comparison to the genocide and abortion of our day. But even if there had been only one, we recognize the greatest treasure God put on the earth—a human person, destined for eternity and graced by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

100 Years ago today…

The Tablet      Page 28, 6th November 1915

ALL SOULS’ DAY AT ROSYTH, SCOTLAND. (FROM A CORRESPONDENT.)

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A great gathering of Catholic sailors took place at Rosyth Naval Base on All Souls’ Day. Between 2,300 and 3,000 participated in the Requiem service held for the repose of the souls of those of their comrades who had died in the course of the war. A huge building was placed by the authorities at the disposal of the Rev. Father Sweeney, Inverkeithing, by whom the bulk of the arrangements were carried out. Such an assembly under one roof of so large a number of Catholic sailors is practically unique, yet their numbers were less than a tithe of the Catholic men from Great Britain and the Colonies of the Empire serving in the Fleet. A temporary altar with pulpit platform and catafalque was erected for the service. Over the catafalque was spread a Union Jack. The Bishop of Dunkeld officiated in presence of the Bishop of Aberdeen, assisted by Father Sweeney, Father Robertson (Dunfermline), and the Rev. Dr. Connolly (Inverkeithing). The duties of cross-bearer and altar servers were undertaken by midshipmen of the Fleet. The music of the English hymns was rendered by a naval orchestra, and the singing of the sailor congregation was marked by striking fervour and volume, and thrilled the few privileged visitors who were spectators of the wonderful gathering.

After Mass the Rev. Father Davidson, C.SS.R., ascended the pulpit and delivered a stirring discourse. He said that he was but voicing the feeling of all present in publicly thanking those whose gracious permission had made that assembly possible. It had given them the chance of performing a duty dear to the Catholic heart of honouring the brave .and helping our dead. Never in the annals of the Church in this country, nay, nowhere in the pages of the history of our nation may be found the record of any similar assembly. “We are here to honour and help our dead. Their end has been glorious. They who go down to the sea in ships of war to do battle carry their lives in their hands. The only peril of the years gone by was shot and shell belched forth from the oaken sides of the men-of-war. In these our day’s human ingenuity has exceeded itself in devising means of destruction and of sending men to death in crowds. There are on all sides the secret perils of the deep, the submarine with its torpedo and the hidden mine. The methods have changed, but the spirit is the same. Courage, we know, never deserts our fighting men. Brethren, I would not have you disconsolate concerning those who have fallen asleep. ‘The souls of the just are in the hands of God,’ and we believe He will bring a part through fire. Here is our hope for those who were not perfect in life—and who is perfect? Who shall go up to the mountain of the Lord, who shall stand in the holy place?—the innocent in hands and the clean of heart. They lie there to be cleansed yet more. ‘As silver is refined I will refine them.’ They are there to pay back the debt of temporal punishment due to sin of which the guilt has been forgiven, and they are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. They need your prayers and sacrifices. You, my dearest brethren, have still to face the perils of the deep for this war is not yet won. Your watchword is Be ye ready, aye ready’ to meet the foe. The Fleet of England is her all in all. Her Fleet is in your hands, and in the Fleet her fate. You, under the Most High, must prove the instrument to crush the Prussian lust for power, that lust which has made rivers of blood and ruined the homes of a peaceful people. It is your work to help to restrain and confine within limits a civilization gone mad, to teach a nation that a nation’s word is her bond. Your work to guard our shores by day and night, to watch the bright horizon line or peer into the fog Lo watch for foemen. And your sailor King and Country trust you every man, from the admirals in supreme command to the humble toiler in the stokeholds. God bless and strengthen you in your labour, and protect you in the watch and send you home the victors.” The Absolutions were given by the Bishop of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Dunkeld, and in conclusion the National Anthem was played by the orchestra.