Thirty Quotes # 14

Thirty Quotes # 14

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‘Finally, I would like to say a word to you, my dear young Catholics of Scotland. I urge you to lead lives worthy of our Lord (cf. Eph 4:1) and of yourselves. There are many temptations placed before you every day - drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol - which the world tells you will bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and divisive. There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you. Search for him, know him and love him, and he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society. Put aside what is worthless and learn of your own dignity as children of God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us to pray for vocations: I pray that many of you will know and love Jesus Christ and, through that encounter, will dedicate yourselves completely to God, especially those of you who are called to the priesthood and religious life. This is the challenge the Lord gives to you today: the Church now belongs to you!’

Pope Benedict XVI’s homily at Bellahouston, 16.9.10

 I have some fond memories of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Scotland in 1982. I was only eight years old at the time, but remember the excitement of his visit, seeing him pass by on his tour around the park with Archbishop Winning, the beautiful summer’s day and taking part in the Mass celebrated with so many people. I recall people cheering, shouting, waving flags and a real sense of a celebration. The visit of Pope Benedict had a similar sense of festival, and yet it was different. As an eight year old, I have no recollection of what Pope John Paul said. Some twenty eight years on, the experience was different.

As chaplain to young people in Glasgow, I had participated at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 and had some experience of Benedict’s words to young people. His messages, particularly for World Youth Day on Palm Sunday each year, offer a unique insight into the vocation of a Christian. His words at Bellahouston on that day in September 2010 were no different and as I listened to what he had to say, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy and enthusiasm for living the Gospel: a real sense of excitement for passing on the powerful message of the Gospel.

Pope Benedict is clearly very aware of the temptations that exist for young people in their pursuit of happiness, and yet he calls them to be seekers: to search for, know and love God. In fact, the following day addressing young people specifically, he said “Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God.” (Address to young people at St. Mary’s College, Twickenham, 17th September 2010). The vocation of Christian life is to find happiness in God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is indeed good news to be shared and to be explored for many years to come with young people in their search for happiness.

A particular expression of this happiness for the Holy Father is clearly found in the vocation to priesthood and religious life. Having found a personal relationship with Christ, the Pope urges young people to ‘completely dedicate themselves to God’. In fact, he mentioned this again specifically when he said that Jesus “needs the powerful love of contemplative religious, who sustain the Church’s witness and activity through their constant prayer. And he needs priests, good and holy priests, men who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep.” (Vigil at Hyde Park, 18th September 2010)

Benedict’s message is consistent. In fact, in his message for WYD 2011, he writes: “Enter into a personal dialogue with Jesus Christ and cultivate it in faith. Get to know him better by reading the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Converse with him in prayer, and place your trust in him.” This certainly rings a bell with the words he delivered at Bellahouston and continues to say in subsequent addresses. Even as recently as his letter to young people on the occasion of this year’s World Youth Day where expresses joy as the focus for the search, it is clear that the Holy Father wants young people to find happiness and joy in their lives, to avoid those things which may seem tempting, but bring only momentary gratification and to find true meaning in a real and personal relationship with Christ.

The challenge of the Pope’s message might be found in the closing words of his homily at Bellahouston when he said to the young people gathered: “The Church now belongs to you!” Perhaps this invitation is even clearer in his letter for World Youth Day 2011, when he says: “the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church.”

For those who answer the call to priesthood or religious life, this is the challenge: to direct our energy with lively faith, creative charity and the energy of hope, giving new life into the Church and supporting its continued growth in the years to come. Using your gifts, talents, strengths and energy at the service of God and his people brings life to others and allows other to enter into the personal relationship with Christ. This is good news and must be shared.

For those considering a vocation to Priesthood or the Religious Life, Pope Benedict urges: “Ask our Lord what he has in mind for you! Ask him for the generosity to say “yes!” Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to fulfil your vocation."

Rev. David Wallace


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Thirty Quotes # 13

Thirty Quotes # 13

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“Activism by itself can even be heroic, but in the end external action is fruitless and loses its effectiveness unless it is born from deep inner communion with Christ. “

(Pope Benedict XVI, Homily from Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, Rome, 13 April 2006)

 Diocesan Priests can be busy people who often have to be people who are multi-tasking. There is always the danger to be “on the go.” While this in itself is good and there is no doubt that the ministry of the priest can  be sanctifying what he says and does there is always the danger that he may fall doing things “out of a sense of duty” or a vague or ill-informed functionalism. Inevitably he simply becomes a machine who consciously or unconsciously has eclipsed the reality of God from his Priesthood. Yet, no priest can ever own his Priesthood because it is gift. We must root ourselves in God. The aim of our Priesthood is to live it for the greater glory of God, for the good of the Church and for service in the Church. We must not become un-hinged. We must never become the lone-ranger because that is when the self-centredness of the individual becomes all too clear for others to see. We must maintain that relationship with Christ from which flows our relationship with fellow priests. Every priest must remember to say his prayers, not just the liturgy of the hours but his own personal prayers that keeps him connected with God and the people to whom he serves. If the priest becomes disconnected he, in time, fails to feed the people who are looking to be fed. If he prayers, his people knows that he prays through his sermons and the way in which he celebrates the Eucharist. It is easy for the Priest to feel that he must be on the go. Yet, the Priest who gives time to prayer, spiritual reading, study and personal reflection may be the more effective minister of word and sacrament which is at the heart of his Priesthood. We must always find a balance that  allows us to be both engaged and active in our Priesthood and at the same time take quality time to remain in touch with God, other Priests for the good of the People we have been called to serve.

Rev. Paul Milarvie


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Thirty Quotes # 12

Thirty Quotes # 12

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“The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want.”

In the course of the four week breviary this psalm appears in Prayer During the Day in Sundays 2 and 4. It always seems to me that it does deserve a higher profile. It is however a pleasant surprise when it does come around. I think due to its association with the Crimmond tune we usually sing and also its associations with funerals it is never seen in a truly positive or happy light. This is to do it a great disservice.

The opening verse: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” is the invitation to life with and in Christ, the Good Shepherd. It is relational, our relationship with the Lord is a loving and caring one, He seeks everything that is good for us and provides for our every need. My father is a font of quotes and phrases and anecdotes and one of his is “I don’t want to be rich, I just want a pound in my pocket every time I need one”. As priests we are called to simplicity of life, we are not called to flamboyance or extravagance. With this in mind how comforting to know that everything we could possibly want and need will be provided for, and everything we could want and need and is necessary in life is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The rest of the psalm goes on to reinforce what is expressed in this opening line; “You are there with your crook and your staff with these you give me comfort”; “my cup is overflowing”. It ends of course with that pledge of the eternal life with Christ “In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever”.

Rev. Gerard Donnelly


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Thirty Quotes # 11

Thirty Quotes # 11

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“Christ continues to call young disciples…face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity” (Pope Benedict XVI to Seminarians 20 VIII 2011)

 Christ continues to call, his voice is not silent: but the call that Christ makes to priesthood is a challenge, the radical call to live the message of the Gospel. When this call is made, for those who receive it, nothing else will satisfy. When this call is made then no matter how difficult it might seem to respond to it, how challenging to accept it, “God gives the right grace to face and overcome the challenges with love and realism” (Pope Benedict XVI to Seminarians 20 VIII 2011). This is why there need be no anxiety: the call may seem to us to be beyond our ability, but if it is God who calls then he will also provide the grace needed to give the response that He desires of us. The call will also find us responding in a whole-hearted way, without any trace of mediocrity. For in this call we seek to be modelled completely on Christ, to identify with him in such a way that we find ourselves filled with joy, yet humble in the face of such a task. For those called then, this is the path that Christ has chosen for them through which they will fulfil their calling to be his Saints. Christ calls…face the challenge!


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Thirty Quotes # 10

Thirty Quotes # 10

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'Jesus has only one sermon and its text is almost too simple: 'Your sins are forgiven; your faith has made you whole.' Notice that the opposite of sin in not moral excellence. It is faith.'  

Reflections of the Creed by Hugh Lavery (St Paul Publications 1982)

How often we make that false comparison between sin and virtue, faith and doubt.

How often we strive to 'earn' God's forgiveness, bartering him with empty promises that are beyond our ability to deliver. And when we fail, as fail we surely will, how prone we are to doubt his willingness to forgive.

Once we think that we have overcome any 'sin' with its opposite 'virtue' by our own efforts, we are in sure danger of becoming more than a little self-righteous, intolerant, proud, hard-hearted, the very attitudes the gospel warns us against!

Then, before we know it, we are alongside the Pharisee in the Temple praying to and about ourselves … I fast twice a week, I pay tithes on all I get (well maybe not quite that much, but more than most) … 'Have mercy on me, a sinner' sounds rather hollow and even insincere on our lips when we have become an example even to ourselves!

And yet at the same time we implore the Lord Jesus Christ at every Mass: 'look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church … ' Sin and faith posing there again as the opposites. Sin being overcome and forgiven by our profession of faith in the offer of Christ's peace. And in response we share peace with all around us - we cannot hold on to 'un-forgiveness' (sin) and expect to be blessed by Christ in Communion moments later. We cannot be in peaceful communion with Christ without being in peaceful communion with all around us. Instead we approach the Eucharist, not because 'we are worthy', but because we believe in the power of Christ's redeeming and forgiving love, of his desire to share the fullness of his life with us.

 Will you live and give your life to preach that one sermon that the world so longs to hear preached?

Rev Donald MacKay


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Thirty Quotes # 9

Thirty Quotes # 9

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"How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years,
When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers,
Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright and battering sandal!"

I love these lines from the poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit priest, who wrote them reflecting on his ministry to the sick and now dead farrier, Felix Randall.  In the course of the poem Father Hopkins describes briefly but with great feeling how he brought the Sacraments to this dying but once powerful man.  He describes how this strong and skilful man was brought low by suffering but through the ministrations of the priest and the grace of the Sacraments came to be resigned to what he had to suffer before he died.

The priest-poet remarks that “Seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears”, and while filled with admiration at the handsome power of the blacksmith at his forge – a wonderful expression of the beauty and skill of the human person – somehow it is in our weakness and helplessness that we discover most about ourselves and others.

The values of so many of those around us, place so much store by health and quality of life and, while these are things never to be taken for granted, they can so easily mask the profound truth and goodness and beauty of our humanity.  It is only in the suffering and death of Jesus on the Cross that our minds are fully opened to the presence and closeness of God who makes his home in the heart of each one of us.

In ministering to the sick the priest makes incarnate the closeness of the whole Church to those who suffer but at the same time acts as a prism through which the world can find in the one who suffers the deepest dignity of the human person and the ageless presence of the God who brings salvation to the world through the Cross.

 

Mgr. Paul Conroy


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Thirty Quotes # 8

Thirty Quotes # 8

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“His desire to save us is so strong-that Jesus is willing to lose His life, that we might experience, new life, eternal life”

(Homily for Lent 5-year B- Rev E. Mc Donald.)

Losing your life that others might live. This is the message that Jesus embodied, but it’s also the message that our parents lived by. As a young couple, they sacrificed many things, a social life, new carpets, home decoration, time off work, evenings in together, in order to provide for a new child. In a sense they lost their own lives that we might have a better life. For them it hasn’t stopped, they are still sacrificing for adult children on low incomes, or without work or with a new grandchild on the way. They are losing out on a bit of financial roughness that should have helped them enjoy retirement. Parenting is the way of sacrifice: losing your own life that others might live. It is in this very same context that I see the celibacy that the church demands of our priests. It’s a parenting thing, sacrificing that others might live. It’s a difficult thing, not without its difficulties, frustrations and blurred edges. Celibacy is a liberation for the sake of others. It’s a sacrifice, that others might have you, your time, your love , your involvement, your attention and your energy.  You sacrifice, that others might have your life; that others might have life. Celibacy is a parenting thing, maybe that’s why we are called Father.

Rev. John Campbell


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Thirty Quotes # 7

Thirty Quotes # 7

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‘God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change.

Pope Benedict's address to pupils Sports Arena of St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, Friday, 17 September 2010

On one of the first occasions I walked into a primary class the teacher invited me to talk to the children. I quickly thought, ‘what about?’ After I’m sure was a period of boredom for the children and a cringe for the teacher I finally found my way out.

What then do you say to children? For along time I have listened to other priests and searched endless resource books, all coming up short. The phrase, ‘God loves you’, quickly becomes exhausted. As adults, we struggle with the phrase ‘God loves you’. Pope Benedict recognised this difficulty when at the beginning of his Pontificate he wanted ‘to clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man’ (Deus Caritas, 1). If Pope Benedict felt the need to clarify it for the whole of humanity then a way of clarifying it for children has to be found?

There at Twickenham to that particular gathering the words he used gave clarity to those who listened. We, the grown ups, could do well to listen to this simple message because we are the people who muddy the waters in which this message finds life.

We do this when we fail to recognise the necessary end of merit and the beginning of pure gift and acceptance.  ‘You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you’ (Mark 1:9-11), these are words that rip open heaven and we are miserly in their use. To break free from this we ourselves have to dismantle the need to achieve God’s love. Once this occurs our life becomes what it truly should be, a response.

We will see the hungry and respond, the stranger and respond, the naked and respond, the sick and respond, the prisoner and respond. With these good deeds going before us our hope is that He too will respond at the favourable time.

 


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Thirty Quotes # 6

Thirty Quotes # 6

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"Jesus, Lord of the calm and of the storm, whatever seas I sail upon, be Thou my helm, my compass, and my port."

Hebridean Altars (The Spirit of an Island Race) by Alistair Maclean - 1937.

 

I chose the above quote for my Silver Jubilee of Ordination card. Alistair Maclean's little book (Hebridean Altars) is full of short  Hebridean prayers and blessings, but I thought this one particularly apt for my own personal situation at the time of my silver jubilee milestone, as well as an unknown future looming. At the time I had been ten happy years in Castlebay, Isle of Barra (more famous now than it was then thanks to 'An Island Parish' programme!), and had been given notice that within six weeks I would be setting sail for St Columba's Cathedral, Oban. I've had recourse to the quote again in the last year as I sailed the Minch once more, this time for my native isle, South Uist.

As island communities we are probably more dependent on the moods of the sea than most - from the fisherman's 'best ever catch of fish' to the nuisance of the cancelled ferry.

In the calm as in the storm, in the storm as in the calm, we are asked to recognise the providential care of Jesus … even although we often imagine him (and happy to leave him maybe) 'in the stern, with his head on a cushion, asleep'.

For the discerning of a vocation to priesthood, the helm, compass and port can only be Jesus - but it takes personal knowledge and skill and not a little common sense and wisdom to read and interpret both the compass and Jesus!

When you have read this, why not search the gospels for incidents in the life of Jesus and his disciples that happen at or by the sea/seashore. Did you not also encounter Jesus there - steering you, guiding you and giving you rest - in other words 'calling you'?

 

Rev Donald MacKay



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Thirty Quotes # 5

Thirty Quotes # 5

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"Give Something back."

Once upon a time, in fact it is not so long ago, there used to be such a thing as the culture of the hero.  The hero was someone who did something exceptional for the sake of the other.  There were sporting heroes, heroes of war, even neighbourhood heroes, and they all had one thing in common; their greatness lay in what they did for others.

Generally speaking, that has been replaced by the culture of the celebrity.  For example, today we have football celebrities who have celebrity wives and girlfriends.  How much of this more recent fad is driven by what is in it for others?  Hardly anything, if anything at all!  The prime motivation in the celebrity culture is “what’s in it for me?” Today, people can occupy a highly esteemed position in society without any desire to give anything back.  All they need is the right set of contacts, or the right break, and suddenly they are a celebrity!

The sadness in all of this is that the culture of celebrity deadens the human spirit.  It dulls the fact that we are not made for ourselves, but for something more than ourselves. It quietens our conscience, and narrows down our consciousness to almost childish proportions. It prevents us from realising the great joy and reward of giving something back, not because of what is in it for me, but because of what it brings to the other.

Would you rather be a hero or a celebrity?  It is not too late for you to discover that heroic voice within yourself.  Whose voice is it anyway?  Is it your voice, or is it God’s voice, or, is it God’s voice and yours in perfect harmony?  What is that voice saying to you?  Perhaps it is time for you to give something back!

Rev. Willie Boyd

 


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Thirty Quotes # 4

Thirty Quotes # 4

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No-one has ever seen the world through your eyes before.

Designer labels, iconic brands, (mass) media and social networking all help to encourage us to think the same way, to spend the same way, to value (and under-value) so many things – in exactly the same way. If you’re not on-message, if you’re not ‘photo-copying’ what the crowd wants to go with, not only are you different, but you can be made to feel quite ‘out of it’, a bit odd. And yet…. we actually need to be, to recognise that all of us are, in fact, a bit different, or to use another word, ‘unique’. There is something wonderful in that. Because of that difference, I have something to offer, and I have lots to receive from, and appreciate in others. By hiding behind the same labels and brands, we can make it so difficult to appreciate the gifts that each individual can have. A well known Scottish poet, Kenneth Steven, put it this way:

“(We have the capacity) To take the brokenness and make it new, to see the familiar and the dull and the taken-for-granted with new eyes each morning. And I have learned that it can be in a few square feet, for small things matter; that God is as much in them as he is present in the great.”

Today, I have the chance to look at so many things, so many people – in a new way, in the way Jesus would look at them. If I try to do that, then I’ll know how to do what Jesus would do in these situations. I can become Christ-like. Nothing is ever really déjà vu.

Fr. John Hughes

Quotation taken from p.66 in Making the Known World New, Kenneth Steven 2009, St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh, ISBN 978 97152 08823


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Thirty Quotes # 3

Thirty Quotes # 3

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“Where there is no love, put love and you will draw out love”

This was written by Saint John of the Cross more than 400 years ago – but does it still make sense? Part of me wants to think that it’s just another wise saying from another holy man - so something not really for me. Yet, if I’m really honest, I know that it touches something deep inside, something very real which goes WHOW !!! Just what would the world be like if we all started putting in just a little bit of love? Sounds easy but don’t you just know there is going to be a catch? “Where there is no love, put love….” Where there is no love is not a place where many of us want to hang around, and yet that is where we - followers of the Crucified One - are called to be; it is right there that we are asked to love. .. to put love. Of course you can’t put what you don’t have, or better still, what you don’t know you have, but it’s there all right; God fills us with his love.  Love is one of those things that can’t be exhausted, the more you share it, the more you have! Now is the time to spread it around: today - right now. Where there is no love put love! It’s not always easy to put love when you don’t feel loved but didn’t Jesus say “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you…” The really Good News is that love has its own reward and be sure “you will draw out love”. You will become more loving, you will be happier and know deep inner freedom- you will be transformed - you will change the lives of those around you and you will change the world – interested? Now JUST DO IT NOW!

Sr. Johann Macleod


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Thirty Quotes # 2

Thirty Quotes # 2

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“We are God’s work of art created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.” (Ephesians 2:10)

I recently took part in the Handicapped Children’s Pilgrimage Trust 2012 Easter Pilgrimage to Lourdes and the theme we followed through our week in Lourdes was “We are God’s work of art”. These lovely words of St. Paul express the deep truth that God has made us all as he wished and we are all therefore precious in his eyes.

A deeper sense of our human beauty comes from knowing the Lord Jesus Christ through the richness and goodness of the gift of his grace. This grace lifts us from sin and opens up for us the good life he wishes us to live in him. This is always a work in progress, the picture is not complete until we reach eternity with him. Each day brings new opportunity to allow the Lord to create us as his work of art, and he invites us anew today to give ourselves to him in complete love and trust.

We pray that we be ready to welcome the Lord into our hearts, that we allow him to work in and through the good gifts he has blessed us with, and that we work with him in drawing the bigger picture of the height and the depth of his love, especially in our love and service of our smallest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters. Thinking back to Lourdes a wonderful part of God’s work of art there is St Bernadette, especially her openness to God and her response to Our Lady in helping build there something beautiful for God. Can we do the same?

Bishop Joseph Toal
Diocese of Argyll and the Isles.


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Thirty Quotes # 1

Thirty Quotes # 1

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Thirty Quotes to Change Your Life.
Quote #1

(The Lord) does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults. (Psalm 102:10)

 Here’s a question: how important are people’s faults and bad qualities? I suppose the answer to the question depends whose faults we are talking about. When it’s our own faults we’re talking about, we hope that they do not really represent the real person; when it’s other people’s faults, we’re more inclined to conclude that what we see on the outside is a good reflection of what is going on in the inside! Or perhaps deep down we fear that the opposite is true, and that we are really defined by our faults! Maybe we are afraid we are in denial about the true significance of our faults, our sins!

So could a quote change our minds – or our fears on that score? If any quote can do this, it’s this. This one doesn’t mess about; it tells us exactly what God thinks about our sins – or even more to the point, it tells what God will do (or rather will NOT do) about our sins. The result is a major surprise; it tells us something about God that few would expect to hear!

How does God respond to sinners and their sins? What does God think of human beings who have faults (i.e. all human beings!)? The answer is disarmingly simple: “(The Lord) does not treat us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our faults.” If I ever came across a quote which could change my life, it is this one, because if I can take on board how fully God dismisses (forgives) my sins and how readily he overlooks my faults, I can break free from the feeling that I am defined by them! If I am not controlled by my faults, then I am free to respond to God’s love: now that’s what I call life changing!

Rev. Robert Hill

Psalm 102:10. The Psalms, a New Translation, Collins, Fontana Book, Glasgow and London, 1963


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Thirty Quotes to Change Your Life

Thirty Quotes to Change Your Life

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Why not challenge yourself to a new way of thinking about your future? The Priests for Scotland initiative will soon to launch Thirty Quotes to Change Your Life. Why not take the challenge of receiving two quotations per week that will help you to reflect on God’s will for you whether or not you are considering service as a priest.

Thirty Quotes to Change Your Life will coincide with the launch of the Year of Faith and it will make use of the social media tool Twitter. On each occasion you will receive the beginning of a quotation through Twitter. After clicking on the link provided in the Twitter feed you will be taken to a webpage where you will be able to read the quotation in full along with a reflection provided by a priest or religious currently working in Scotland. You will then be able to leave your own comment or reflection.

To view the Quotes on this website click here.

The project will begin on 11th October. Why not take the challenge Thirty Quotes to Change Your Life?

Follow us on Twitter @ThirtyQuotes


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The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World

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The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World:
New Media at the Service of the Word.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The theme of this year's World Communications Day - The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word - is meant to coincide with the Church's celebration of the Year for Priests. It focuses attention on the important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God. Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.
All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, and the communication of his saving grace in the sacraments. Gathered and called by the Word, the Church is the sign and instrument of the communion that God creates with all people, and every priest is called to build up this communion, in Christ and with Christ. Such is the lofty dignity and beauty of the mission of the priest, which responds in a special way to the challenge raised by the Apostle Paul: "The Scripture says, 'No one who believes in him will be put to shame ... everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).
Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16) The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.
The spread of multimedia communications and its rich "menu of options" might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different "voices" provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.
Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a "soul" to the fabric of communications that makes up the "Web".
God's loving care for all people in Christ must be expressed in the digital world not simply as an artifact from the past, or a learned theory, but as something concrete, present and engaging. Our pastoral presence in that world must thus serve to show our contemporaries, especially the many people in our day who experience uncertainty and confusion, "that God is near; that in Christ we all belong to one another" (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2009).
Who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today's world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better future? Consecrated men and women working in the media have a special responsibility for opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and to draw near to the Word of God which offers salvation and fosters an integral human development. In this way the Word can traverse the many crossroads created by the intersection of all the different "highways" that form "cyberspace", and show that God has his rightful place in every age, including our own. Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20).
In my Message last year, I encouraged leaders in the world of communications to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human person. This is one of the ways in which the Church is called to exercise a "diaconia of culture" on today's "digital continent". With the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts, we must reaffirm the need to continue preparing ways that lead to the Word of God, while being at the same time constantly attentive to those who continue to seek; indeed, we should encourage their seeking as a first step of evangelization. A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space - like the "Court of the Gentiles" of the Temple of Jerusalem - for those who have not yet come to know God?
The development of the new technologies and the larger digital world represents a great resource for humanity as a whole and for every individual, and it can act as a stimulus to encounter and dialogue. But this development likewise represents a great opportunity for believers. No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing near to others. To priests in particular the new media offer ever new and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the Church's mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son who came among us for our salvation. At the same time, priests must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.
To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new "agorà" which the current media are opening up.
With this confidence, I invoke upon you the protection of the Mother of God and of the Holy Curè of Ars and, with affection, I impart to each of you my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2010, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI


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