WATCH: Archbishop Cushley on Fasting in Lent

Archbishop Leo Cushley reflected on the tradition of fasting in Lent on Good Morning Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland this morning (29 February). Watch below or on YouTube. Transcript below video.


Recently, I learned that Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert, and not the other way round – not a big deal in the 21st century, but it was not exactly common in the nineteenth century.

She did so on the 19 of October 1839, but should she have waited until the 29 of February, six months later? I say this because, traditionally, the 29th of February – today - is a day when women get to propose to men.  Who knew?

There are traditions wherever we look, some of them we love and some of them we resist.

I bet you have traditions around Christmas, or things that you do every year, or that may change but only very slowly and gradually.

It’s important to notice our traditions, as they tell us who we are, what we like, where we come from.

And once a tradition is established, it can be very tenacious, for better and for worse.

And there are traditions at different times of the year.

Dry January has become a recent tradition, but it’s mostly because we’ve overdone it during the Christmas holidays.

And Christians have the tradition of Lent around now: there are all sorts of things connected to it, from Carnevale in Venice to pancakes in Britain.  All good fun, but for a good reason, because they mark the start of forty days when we fast and pray and prepare for Easter.

But the tradition of fasting during Lent isn’t about slimming.

It’s more about taking back control, control of yourself and of your appetites, and therefore taking back control of your own future.

Lent – fasting, prayer, abstaining - is a tradition that is about freedom, being free from yourself.

The people of Israel spent forty years in the desert, and we spend just 40 days in the spiritual desert of Lent.

The Israelites were trying to free themselves from Pharaoh, but we are trying to free us from our own selves – our weaknesses, our limitations to focus on something much greater than ourselves, as we anticipate the joy and celebration of Easter.

And that’s a tradition worth handing on.

Archbishop's Engagements for June

Here is a list of Archbishop Leo Cushley's engagements for June 2023.

Thursday 1 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Matthew's Church, Rosewell.

Friday 2 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Mary's Church, Haddington.

Saturday 3 June, 3:00pm
Confirmations, St Joseph's Church, Peebles.

Saturday 3 June, 6:00pm
Confirmations, St David's Church, Dalkeith.

Sunday 4 June, 11:00am
Confirmations, St James' Church, St Andrews.

Monday 5 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations (I), St Andrew's Church, Livingston.

Tuesday 6 June, 10:00am
Scottish National War Memorial Service, Edinburgh Castle.

Wednesday 7 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations (II), St Andrew's Church, Livingston.

Thursday 8 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations (III), St Andrew's Church, Livingston.

Friday 9 June, 2:00pm
Confirmations, St Ninian's Church, Edinburgh.

Sunday 11 June, 2:15pm
Corpus Christi Procession, Falkirk High Street.

Sunday 11 June, 5:00pm
Confirmations, Our Lady of Lourdes, Dunfermline.

Monday 12 - Thursday 15 June, Rome
Diaconate ordinations of Paul Henderson and Peter Shankland, Rome.

Thursday 15 June, Rome
Audience with the Holy Father.

Friday 16 June, 11:15am
100th anniversary Mass, St Columba's High School, Dunfermline.

Friday 16 June, 7:00pm
Dedication of Altar, St Margaret's Church, South Queensferry.

Sunday 18 June, from 12:30pm
St Margaret's Pilgrimage, Dunfermline.

Tuesday 20 June, 12:30pm
Retired Priests' Lunch, St Bennet's Edinburgh.

Tuesday 20 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations, Our Lady, Star of the Sea Church, North Berwick.

Wednesday 21 June, 12:00pm
Mass at Scottish Parliament for MSPs and Parliament Staff.

Wednesday 21 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Mary's, West Calder.

Thursday 22 June, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Joseph's, Whitburn.

Saturday 24 June, 12:00pm
Mass with Dominicans, St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Saturday 24 June, 6:00pm
60th anniversary Mass, St Teresa of Lisieux Church, Craigmillar.

Sunday 25 June, 3:00pm
150th anniversary Mass, St John the Baptist, Fauldhouse.

Wednesday 28 June, 11:00am
College of Bishops & Bishops' Conference of Scotland Meeting, Edinburgh.

Archbishop's Engagements for May

Here is a list of Archbishop Leo Cushley's engagements for May 2023.

Wednesday 3 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Marie’s Church, Kirkcaldy.

Thursday 4 May, 4:00pm
Trustees Meeting, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Thursday 4 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Bride’s Church, Cowdenbeath.

Friday 5 May, 10:00am
Mass for 10th anniversary, St Bernadette’s Primary, Stenhousemuir.

Friday 5 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Agatha’s, Methil.

Saturday 6 May, 5:00pm
Confirmations, St Margaret’s, Davidson’s Mains.

Sunday 7 May – Thursday 11 May
Meeting of Commission for Family & Life, Bucharest.

Friday 12 May, 10:00am
Catholic Headteachers’ Association annual meeting, Crieff.

Friday 12 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Margaret Mary’s, Granton.

Saturday 13 May, 11:00am
Confirmations, St Mary’s, Bathgate.

Saturday 13 May, 7:00pm
Knights of Malta Charity Ball, Edinburgh.

Sunday 14 May, 4:00pm
Confirmations, St John the Baptist, Fauldhouse.

Monday 15 May, 4:00pm
Confirmations, St Michael’s, Linlithgow.

Tuesday 16 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Catherine's, Edinburgh.

Wednesday 17 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Teresa’s, Craigmillar.

Thursday 18 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Kentigern’s, Barnton.

Friday 19 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, Sacred Heart, Lauriston.

Saturday 20 May, 11:00am
Confirmations, Our Lady, Star of the Sea, North Berwick.

Sunday 21 May, 9:00am
Confirmations, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Monday 22 May, 6:30pm
Moderator's Reception, Edinburgh.

Wednesday 24 May, 2:00pm
School Chaplains Meeting (Zoom).

Wednesday 24 May, 6:30pm
Beating Retreat, Holyrood Palace.

Saturday 27 May, 11:00am & 2:00pm
Confirmations, St Francis Xavier’s, Falkirk.

Saturday 27 May, 7:00pm
Adoration, St Albert’s Chaplaincy, Edinburgh.

Sunday 28 May, 11:00am
Confirmations, Our Lady & St Andrew, Galashiels.

Tuesday 30 May, 7:00pm
Confirmations, Our Lady of Loretto, Musselburgh.

Tuesday 30 May, 7:20am
Thought for the Day, BBC Radio Scotland.

Wednesday 31 May, 7:15pm
Mass for Married & Engaged Couples, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Archbishop's Engagements for April

Here is a list of Archbishop Leo Cushley's engagements for April 2023.

Thursday 6 April, 7:00pm
Mass of the Last Supper, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Friday 7 April, 3:00pm
Good Friday Liturgy, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Saturday 8 April, 8:00pm
Easter Vigil, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Sunday 9 April, midday
Easter Sunday Mass, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Sunday 9 April to Friday 14 April
Lourdes Pilgrimage with Hosanna House and Children's Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT).

Tuesday 18 April, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Joseph’s Church, Bonnybridge.

Wednesday 19 April, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Mary’s, Bo’ness.

Thursday 20 April, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Alexander’s, Denny.

Friday 21 April, 7:00pm
Confirmations, Our Lady & St Ninian, Bannockburn.

Saturday 22 April, 10:00am
Pro-Life Rosary, Sacred Heart, Lauriston, Edinburgh.

Saturday 22 April, 3:00pm
Confirmations, St Machan’s, Lennoxtown.

Sunday 23 April, 11:00am
Confirmations, St Patrick’s, Kilsyth.

Sunday 23 April, 4:00pm
Confirmations, St Mary’s, Stirling.

Tuesday 25 April, 11:00am
Clergy Formation Day, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Tuesday 25 April, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Margaret’s, Dunfermline.

Wednesday 26 April, 10:00am
Mass, St Joseph’s Primary, Selkirk.

Wednesday 26 April, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh.

Thursday 27 April, 10:00am
Mass for 70th anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, Blackburn.

Thursday 27 April, 7:00pm
Confirmations, St Mary, Star of the Sea, Leith.

Saturday 29 April, 11:00am
Youth Leaders’ Day, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Sunday 30 April, 3:00pm
Mass, Union of Catholic Mothers, Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral, Motherwell.

CAMPAIGN: Reaching out at Easter

We want you to support our postcard campaign to encourage people back to Mass at your parish for Easter Sunday.

Each parish has received a delivery of postcards to fill out with details of Easter Sunday Mass times (as well as Holy Saturday and Good Friday times).

Archbishop Cushley wrote to priests: "The purpose is to share Mass times for Easter Sunday with those who are away from the Church or who haven’t attended in a while.

"In this small, practical way we can reach out and encourage people back to Mass at the most important time in the Liturgical year."

Completed postcards can be completed and popped through letterboxes or left at the back of the Church for people to pick one up to share with someone who may not have been to Mass in a while and who may appreciate an invite to Mass on Easter Sunday.

Here's a quick guide on how to make the most of the postcards.

Want more postcards?
We have a limited number available for collection from the Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1BB. Please contact

To print professionally
Send this file to a local printing firm. Decide how many you want printed and give them these details: Size - 148mm x 105mm, double-sided. Full colour 350gsm uncoated offset.

Questions? Email or call 07833 208 211.

Archbishop's Engagements for March

Here is a list of Archbishop Leo Cushley's engagements for March 2023. Also available here.

Wednesday 1 March
Update on Archdiocesan finance and Aged & Infirm Clergy Fund for Falkikr and Stirling Deanery, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Sunday 12 March, 6:00pm
Holy Hour & Eucharistic Adoration, St Margaret’s Chapel, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh (Synod 2023).

Monday 13 March (until Wednesday 16 March)
Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Schoenstatt Centre, Clachan of Campsie.

Thursday 16 March, 2:00pm
Update on Archdiocesan finance and Aged & Infirm Clergy Fund for West Lothian Deanery, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Thursday 16 March, 7:00pm
Launch of Commonwealth War Graves Foundation, Edinburgh Castle.

Sunday 19 March, 11:00am
Mass for Parish Feast Day, St Joseph’s, Broomhouse.

Tuesday 21 March, 10:00am
Mass for school feast day, St Joseph’s Primary, Linlithgow.

Tuesday 21 March, 2:00pm
Update on Archdiocesan finance and Aged & Infirm Clergy Fund (Fife Deanery), Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Wednesday 22 March, 2:00pm
Update on Archdiocesan finance and Aged & Infirm Clergy Fund (Edinburgh Deanery), Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Thursday 23 March, 11:00am
Leavers’ Mass for pupils in Edinburgh city. St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Thursday 23 March, 2:00pm
Archbishop’s Council, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Friday 24 March, 4:00pm
Mass at St Albert’s Chaplaincy, University of Edinburgh.

Friday 24 March, 7:00pm
50th anniversary Mass Mgr Gerry Hand. Holy Cross, Edinburgh.

Saturday 25 March (and Sunday 26 March)
Leading EOHS retreat at Schoenstatt Centre, Clachan of Campsie.

Monday 27 March, 7:30pm
Palm Sunday Liturgy Talk (Zoom).

Thursday 30 March, 2:00pm
Update on Archdiocesan finance and Aged & Infirm Clergy Fund (Borders Deanery), Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Friday 31 March, 7:25am
BBC Radio Scotland Thought for the Day.

Friday 31 March, 7:00pm
50th Anniversary Mass Fr Aidan Cannon, Hawick.

LISTEN: Archbishop Cushley on Pope's Apostolic Journey

This morning (Tuesday 31 February) Archbishop Cushley reflected on the upcoming Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, on BBC Radio Scotland's Thought for the Day. Listen below or on YouTube. Scroll down for transcript.


I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the United Kingdom has an Ambassador in the Vatican.

Diplomatic relations were established between Britain and the Holy See in 1982, and those relations are very cordial.

The British Ambassador to the Holy See is Chris Trott. But while he’s an ambassador like any other, his mission is a little different because the Vatican is a mission like no other.

I met Chris a couple of years ago, just as he was starting his new job, and he told me that he had been working previously in South Sudan, and that he had considered the job of Britain’s Ambassador to the Holy See partly because of the work he had seen the Church doing to build peace in that troubled country.

Of course, the Vatican doesn’t use armies or tanks or planes to put an end to war. Rather, whatever influence it has on the world stage, it tries to use for the common good.

That’s why Pope Francis is going to the Congo and then South Sudan in a couple of days’ time.

South Sudan only became an independent nation in 2011, breaking away from Sudan itself. But since then it has been in the grip of what Human Rights Watch describes as intercommunal conflict and abuses by security forces and armed groups that are exacting an ‘horrific toll on civilians’.

The United Nations adds that the food insecurity in South Sudan is the worst it’s been since the country’s independence.

This is why Pope Francis wants to go there.

As South Sudan is largely a Christian country, he will be accompanied by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland in an ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace.

And all three are going there to urge men of violence to come back to the negotiating table, and for the good of their own people.

I personally don’t know if Britain’s ambassador had a hand in bringing all these important figures together, but either way, we ought to wish them all well as they strive to bring peace to a troubled corner of the world.

Archbishop's schedule

Here's Archbishop Leo Cushley's schedule up until 8 November