Archbishop: 'Reflect on how we walk together in Christ'

Here is the Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley from the Chrism Mass held at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh, on Tuesday night (26 March).

 My dear brother deacons and priests, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

A very warm welcome to the Chrism Mass.

This celebration is always one that manages both to distinguish us in our various roles and to unite us around our one High Priest, Jesus Christ.

It is a moment for reflection upon how we first embraced our Catholic faith; how far we have come on our journey; and how well we have fulfilled the duties that we freely assumed along the way, both clergy and laity alike.

We all have distinctive roles to fulfil; yet, we are all heirs to the same life of grace, Jews and Greeks, men and women, young and old, slaves and free.

Each of us plays a modest part in the Mystical Body of Christ, but unless we do so with simplicity and in God’s grace, we will not fare well, and those around us will not fare well.

So, at the Chrism Mass, as we look at who we are, as the Church of Christ in Edinburgh, in one way today is a time for taking stock, for an examen of how we walked together in the arc of the last year.

One significant thing that has occurred for the whole Church has been precisely on this subject: how we translate believing into living, how our living has its impact upon those around us, whether Catholics or not, how we listen to each other, and how we learn from each other, and always in union with the living Lord.

The Synod

I say this, because this last element has become one of the key elements of the Synod that took place last October, and that will meet a second time this October.

The Synod is one which has been convoked by the Holy Father to examine the idea of Synodality, a concept that, although using old language, is actually one that is comparatively recent, by one account, coined in French as recently as in 1996.

Pope Francis, the Cardinals he has placed in charge of the process, and the Synod itself have endeavoured to explore this concept.

Synod is a familiar concept, but Synodality is something yet to be clearly defined.

It comes from Greek and its components essentially mean “Walking together”.

I was at a meeting last week in Rome and this was emphasised again.

The Holy Father has encouraged us all to walk together, and to do so by listening to each other.

There may be other elements that will emerge from the term, as time goes by and as the second Synod meets this autumn, but for now, it seems that the greatest emphasis has been on learning to listen again: to listen to the Holy Spirit, and to listen to each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Listening is something that we all think we are good at, but of course, that is not always true.

That we should be learning to listen to each other again is certainly to be welcomed, given how frayed tempers seem to have become in recent times, especially in the light of the consequences of Covid and attitudes that we now need surely to unlearn.

We need to unlearn being impatient, short-tempered, easily angered.

Mental health and wellness referrals have risen dramatically across the country, and it appears to be attributable, in part at least, to the fallout from the Covid crisis.

The Synod then, happens, providentially to fall at a moment when we need to learn to listen again, and again to be brothers and sisters to each other.

It is an opportunity to look back and see how much we need it, and to look forward to what may come next.

Let’s all pray that the Synod may lead to a better understanding and a better living out of who we are, as the People of God, in communion with each other, in communion with our sister churches, and in communion with the Successor of Peter in the See of Rome.

Priest & Deacons

In the meantime, I’d like to add a short word to our priests and deacons.

My dear brothers, today we reflect upon our own promises, and commit ourselves anew, as servants and leaders of our people.

Deacons are usually called to more service, while priests are usually more called to leadership, but servant leadership characterizes both orders.

Both Peter and Paul write eloquently of hope, and hope is something that we all need to keep our faith alive in joyful service.

Paul writes that Faith, Hope and Love are the three great Christian virtues, and Peter urges us to be ready to give reasons for our hope.

This evening, I would like to encourage you to reflect on your own hopes.

In Peter and Paul’s world, the ancient world, hope was not what we think of today.

Hope wasn’t always something positive, as it is in English. Elpis, the Greek word here, can also mean expectation and even foreboding.

In the pagan world, hope was often just a step away from despair and the fear of what is to come, something that can stalk us, especially if we find ourselves living alone.

But in Romans (5:5), Paul takes hope, and says that we have a hope that does not change, that does not deceive, that is not a step away from despair.

And that hope is Jesus Christ. 

Paul says that we sometimes we suffer, but suffering and difficulties produce endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

That hope will not put us to shame or mislead or deceive us, because it a hope that comes through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, poured into our hearts.

This is true for all of us who have received God’s Holy Spirit.

But it is especially true of you here who are in holy orders.

You have been given a unique gift of God’s Holy Spirit, living within you, and it will accompany you through all your sufferings and bring you hope.

That hope is Jesus Christ, who dies for us even if we are ungodly and unworthy.

Let Jesus, the one certain Hope, give you courage and joy and confidence.

May you continue to be the willing servants of the Lord that, with great heart, you promised to be on the day of your Ordination.

Every blessing to you and your people for the upcoming celebrations of the Triduum.

Thank you for listening, and God bless all of you abundantly, especially in these days.

Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass takes place at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on Tuesday 26 March at 7:00pm.
Archbishop Cushley will consecrate/bless the holy oils that will be given to parishes and clergy will renew their priestly promises to serve God & His people.
No registration required.
Clergy only can let the Cathedral know they are coming at this link:

Gallery: Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral

Archbishop Cushley last night blessed the holy oils that will be used in sacraments in parishes across the Archdiocese - holy chrism, the oil of catechumens, and the oil of the sick. Many of our clergy also gathered at this Chrism Mass to renew their priestly promises.

Please keep all our priests in your prayers as we approach the Easter Triduum to recall Jesus' Passion, death and resurrection.



Archbishop Leo's Easter Message

Happy Easter! Here is Archbishop Leo Cushley's Easter message, delivered this morning in his homily at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh

Celebration of Easter Sunday 2022

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh  

My dear friends,

A very happy Easter to you all!

Over these three days, here at the cathedral we have been looking at the mysteries of our faith through a particular lens, that of courage.  We recalled different kinds of courage: we saw how Simon Peter is bold; St Thomas too; Our Lady and St John likewise; and others too, all in their own ways.

We remember how Peter’s words are courageous at first, but the roots of his courage aren’t very deep as yet, and he runs away in fear.  Our Lady and St John show courage simply by standing at the foot of the Cross, with a silent and dignified courage before the mob, and before the terrible majesty of Christ’s death on the Cross; and later we will hear from St Thomas again, who will remain bold and outspoken, even to the very highpoint of John’s Gospel.

Last night, we also saw how the women who went to the tomb – Mary of Magdala, Joanna and Mary the mother of James, are brave, and have been bold, up to point. They had stood bravely at the foot of the Cross, and had seen Jesus die a slow and cruel death.  They had been very brave to risk the jeering and the insults from the mob gathered there “to see the spectacle” of Jesus’ last hours; but here, in the quiet of the garden, at the tomb, their courage deserts them completely.  Ironically, now that the danger to themselves has passed, they are terrified, here at the empty tomb.  Their courage will only return later on.

Meantime, today, the story takes another twist.  Peter and John become the next protagonists in the story.  Their courage has also been put to the test.  Peter was full of fine, brave words, but his courage failed him when he was recognised on the evening of Jesus’ trial, and he fled for his life.  This is the point in the story where he re-emerges and, be it for faith or love or regret or curiosity, he sets off for the tomb.

John, meantime, has accompanied all the events, although no remarks of his are recorded.  We understand that he was known to the high priest and so he was present at Jesus’ trial and condemnation; he stood with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross; and here he is again, present at the empty tomb.  His courage, although he says nothing in all these episodes, is there for all to see.  He is a silent but courageous witness to the Lord’s death and resurrection.  St John is an inspiration to us all, and shows us how Christian witness is often just as eloquent when it is a tacit one; his witness isn’t flashy, but it is consistent, it is real, and it is a mark of a true friend and follower.  The Gospel text here acknowledges his faith: as he stands before the empty tomb, it says of him, alone, “He saw, and he believed”.

As for Peter, this too is one of several moments where he is redeemed after the failure of his courage.  In contrast to everyone else, even John, we are told that Peter boldly goes “right into the tomb”.  He sees that everything is neat, in order, and that there is no body. The text says no more of him alone, but it adds that, until this moment, they had both failed to understand that Jesus must rise from the dead.  And this short sentence marks the moment which changes everything.  John’s courage and faith are now confirmed; and Peter’s courage and faith begin to return. He starts to glimpse that he was right after all: Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And he begins to see that the whole of creation stands on the threshold of a new, and unexpected, and wonderful future.

Meantime, as we saw on Holy Thursday night, only a very few disciples remained steadfast and faithful to the Lord in his agony and death.  And as we saw on Thursday, St Thomas is one apostle who stands out for his courage.  St Thomas, famously, was the only one who wasn’t there when the risen Lord appeared in the Upper Room on the first Easter Day.  Who knows if he wasn’t there, precisely because he was the only one there brave enough to show his face in public while the rest of the disciples were cowering in the Upper Room, for fear of the mob? And even that was turned to great account, when the risen Lord appeared to them all eight days later, and Thomas declared before him and before us all, “My Lord and my God!”

Our faith may be like that of Peter, weak but genuine; it may be like John’s, silent but constant; or it may be like Thomas’s, outspoken but firm; but all of us, through our faith and our baptism, are heirs to the life of grace, and we all of us have the greatest reason to rejoice: Jesus is the Son of God, and today he is risen from the dead.  The rest comes after that.

A very Happy and Holy Easter to you all!

Good Friday - Archbishop's Homily

Here is Archbishop Leo's homily on Friday of the Passion of the Lord, from St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh this afternoon. All pics: Benedicta Yi Xin Lin.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh

Solemn Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, 2022

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh  

My dear friends,

Today by tradition we listen to the Passion according to St John.  Last night, here in the Cathedral we reflected a little on the courage of Thomas the Apostle.  St John records that all the disciples were afraid of going up to Jerusalem with the Lord – except St Thomas.

Instead, he spoke out: he dared to accompany Jesus to Jerusalem, and said boldly to the others, “Let us go too, and die with Him”.  Of all the disciples, Thomas is the only one who speaks up, or better, who expresses any words of true and consistent courage in the face of the events as they unfolded.

We know that St Peter has some brave words to say.  We’ve just heard them, but they turn out quickly to be only words.  Peter’s betrayal becomes an iconic one, a collapse of his genuine, but as yet timid, love for the Lord as he is challenged by a few bystanders, who catch his accent, realize he’s a Galilean, and terrify him with the prospect of his own torture and death.

But not even Thomas is there at the end.  Only St John, of all the Apostles, is at the foot of the Cross.  Our Lady, Mary of Magdala, and Mary the wife of Cleopas, also stand there and bear the risk of association with Jesus bravely, to say nothing of the shame and the horror, as they keep their watch, in front of all the onlookers who had, as St Luke says, “come to see the spectacle”.

From the Cross, Jesus then addresses a few final words to his mother and to John. Others, perhaps emboldened in some way, show a little courage later on: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus step forward after Jesus’ death.  They have both been growing in faith over the time of Jesus’ ministry, and have come to follow Jesus by slightly different paths.

Nicodemus came to Jesus to get to know him, but famously did so “by night”, probably because he didn’t want to be seen with Jesus in public.  Meantime, however, he has grown in courage, and with the death of Jesus, his faith has now been confirmed and revealed.  Here is a faith that embraces Jesus at the very moment of his death.

Nicodemus is not only brave; he is among the very first disciples to see that what is happening here today isn’t a disaster, but the very will of God revealed in the mystery of the Cross.

He glimpses now, as the Church would later on, that Christ came into the world for this”.  The Cross is a triumph, though a dark and somber one at this moment.

Meantime, Joseph of Arimathea is there too: he is actually described here as a disciple, which is worth noting.  He was an important man among the people; but he too is described a secret disciple, because he had been afraid of other people’s opinions about Jesus; but he has been quietly growing in faith nonetheless.

He, like Nicodemus, is here at the end, and he goes to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body.  He is a silent, brave and eloquent witness of faith in Jesus as well.

And, above all, we see the love and constancy of Our Lady, St John and the other Marys.  It is impossible to imagine what is going through Our Lady’s mind, but her heart is surely pierced by her Son’s rejection and death.

And through the Lord’s dialogue with her and John, we see them united with Jesus and each other in a way that sets them quite apart from the other figures beneath the Cross, although all of the group show the greatest courage and love to be there with Jesus to the end.

And, for Our Lady and St John, we see a particular bond of love and affection which is very moving to recall.  We are told nothing more about it here.  But we can be confident that their love for Jesus has turned, silently and solemnly, into something that will grow in the days and years to follow.

Mary’s natural, motherly love for her Son, and John’s brotherly love for his friend, and filial love for his divine Master, are transformed though the Cross into something even more profound.

To paraphrase the great Scots poet Edwin Muir, “What had Eden ever to say” about the flowers of “hope and faith and pity and love”* that grow at the foot of the Cross, and that bloom, nourished by Christ’s blood, to give hope and courage to all humanity?*  These flowers of faith and affection, growing but still delicate and small in today’s story, will one day become faith and hope for us all, to the greater glory of God.

And whether our faith is new like Nicodemus’s, or brave like Joseph’s, let us learn to imitate the love and the courage of them all, especially Our Lady and St John.  Let us take the risk to place ourselves in public at the foot of the Cross, and offer the Lord the little faith and love and courage that we have, in the hope that it will grow more constant in our hearts, by God’s good grace.

*One Foot in Eden, by Edwin Muir.

All pics: Benedicta Yi Xin Lin.

Holy Thursday - Archbishop's Homily

Archbishop Leo Cushley celebrated Mass of the Lord's Supper at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh tonight (Thursday).

He told those present to "take heart from the Lord's loving gestures" at the Last supper, when Jesus establised the Eucharist, the priesthood and washed the disciples' feet.

Archbishop Leo washed the feet of parishioners who represented the apostles to demonstrate Christian service and to reinforce Christ's message at the Last Supper - 'Love one another as I have loved you'.

After Mass the Cathedral remains open for prayer at the Altar of Repose and Night Prayer is celebrated at 11pm. Read the homily below.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh,

Mass of the Lord’s Supper 2022

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh

My dear friends,

Tonight, we begin our three days with the Lord under the great and powerful banner of the Cross.

All the Gospels record how the disciples gradually came to be afraid of Jesus’s appointment with destiny in Jerusalem, that comes into focus this evening.  Mark and the other Synoptics talk of the twelve being in a “daze” and “apprehensive” as it gradually dawned on them that, not only was Jesus, their friend and Master and Lord, not going to be welcomed in Jerusalem; not only would the priests and people not welcome him as messiah, or even as a holy man; they began to see that the authorities were planning to destroy him.  And that might well mean them along with him.

When Simon Peter had called Jesus “the Christ”, they thought that he was bold, but they had also come to believe that he was right; that Peter’s great and insightful declaration of faith in Jesus as the Messiah was a real turning point, filled with grace and with power from on high; they felt confident in Peter and in the Lord; they had seen the signs; they felt they understood; they believed.

And yet they were human too, and their antennae were telling them that something was now going awry, that all was not well, that those who led the people, who knew the Law of Moses, those who were good and wise in Torah were convinced that Jesus was not what he claimed to be; and worse, the disciples could see and feel that the opposition to Jesus was growing stronger, and that it was getting deadly.

So why follow Jesus now, who had set his face so markedly towards Jerusalem?  Faith, love, loyalty?  Something that they had glimpsed in his words or in his actions? Something wonderful that they had seen and heard and touched with their own hands?

Their misgivings were growing. But in John’s Gospel that we see another reaction among the twelve.  We hear one voice that’s definitely not afraid; and it’s the voice of Thomas, the supposedly “doubting” apostle.

At the death of Lazarus, Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem and faces his end, but on the way he goes to the house of Lazarus.  He sets off late, and he gets there after Lazarus has died.  He arrives at Bethany and there gives his greatest sign: he raises Lazarus from the dead – and this gift, of life restored to Lazarus, is not only frowned upon by the priests; it becomes the reason par excellence that provokes the High Priest and his council to pass sentence of Jesus, and have him put to death.

By a double irony, however, this stroke also becomes the very means by which Jesus the Messiah, the Lamb of God, slain by the high priest, takes away the sin and death of the world, and restores life – and not just to Lazarus, not just to believers, but to the whole of God’s good creation.

But before any of this can happen, the disciples are getting more and more afraid of going with Jesus to Jerusalem, as all the signs of Jesus’ voluntary doom approaching.  Meantime, Thomas sees the Lord resolutely heading towards the crisis in Jerusalem, and he too makes a public stand, and takes a decision.  He doesn’t quite know what he’s saying, yet, but John records his brave words, as he says to all the disciples, “Let us go too, then, and die with him”.

We already know of the uncertainty in the minds and hearts of the disciples; we will learn shortly of Peter’s brittle, though affectionate attachment to the Lord; we will also see tomorrow the silent courage of Our Lady and the Apostle John at the foot of the Cross and its horror.  Peter’s declaration that he would die for the Lord will become source of shame to him; but we will never hear again anything quite like Thomas’s call to courage, so bold, so prescient, so impossibly noble at a time when the darkest clouds were menacing them all.

Thomas gives us, then, a wonderful insight into the human drama taking place in the breasts of the followers of Jesus as he approaches Jerusalem to face this night of betrayal and death.  In the small world of Judea, they knew something was amiss; they knew their ideas and plans for greatness were not materializing.  Some had already stopped believing in Jesus and going with him; one was planning, even now, to betray him.  But most of them stayed loyal to Jesus to some extent, compelled either by love for him or by his authority.

Not everyone had Thomas’s courage.  That is why the Lord’s great gesture of love, the washing of the feet tonight, becomes such a great sign of affection.  Not just out of brotherly concern, or of friendship, but of loving encouragement.  It is a sign of love; but it is also one to make us take heart. We do not know what the Lord will ask of us one day; all we know is that he loves us, in spite of our betrayals, and lies, and cowardice, and half-heartedness.  He loves us this much – and this, even before we approach the agony of the Cross which he chooses tomorrow to undergo for us.

My friends, let us take heart from the Lord’s loving gestures here tonight, both in the washing of the feet, and supremely in the Eucharist, the memorial of his death, and the greatest sign of his love and encouragement. The Mass tonight links us forever to his love for us and to its pledge in his death on the Cross.  So let us be encouraged by him in what we do here tonight in his memory.

Let us in our turn be loving to towards each other and to the Lord; let us watch with him; let us renew our faith in Him.

And in these days, let us go, again, to die with Him.

Chrism Mass 2022 - Archbishop's Homily

Archbishop Leo Cushley reinforced the message that "we are all one in Christ" at tonight's Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

The Chrism Mass sees clergy renew their priestly promises publicly while the oil of baptism, the oil of the sick and the oil of catechumens are blessed for distribution to parishes.

Archbishop Leo said: "We gather as God’s priestly people, doing so solemnly, and in view of the great Christian festival of Easter.

And we do this all together, in our various orders and ranks, and all of us as one body, as royal priests, and all with one thing in view, the one thing that is necessary: after all, the Church exists to bear witness to the mystery of God’s love incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.

And we do that together, or not at all.  Everything else is secondary." Read the homily below.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh

Chrism Mass, 12 April 2022, St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh  

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

A very warm welcome to the Chrism Mass in this, the Year of Grace 2022.

Many years ago, a famous pope of Rome, upon being consecrated bishop of the city, prepared a homily for his consecration which has come down to us.  In it, he talks about the oil, the sacred Chrism, that has been poured upon him as he is being consecrated.

He thanks everyone for coming and promises to serve them well.  But when he comes to talking about the Chrism, he doesn’t just talk about his own anointing; instead, he chooses to emphasise how the Holy Spirit is poured out not only on him, but also in some sense upon everyone present.

It is true, he said, that he had been anointed for their sake, but he adds that they too have been anointed and “unsparingly” so.  This is because, although “the Church is ordered in various ranks, so that the whole is made up of different members, yet, as St Paul says, we are all one in Christ”.  We are all one in Christ.*

The various offices we hold, the different ministries we carry out for the good, not of ourselves, but of each other, are not to be a source of self-importance or pride or division between the various parts of the mystical body of Christ.  We are all completely equal in dignity; we are all, without distinction, heirs to the life of grace.  In the order of creation, we are made in the image and likeness of God, and we are utterly unique and “unrepeatable”.

So, we are evidently different from each other, but in the unity of the faith and baptism that we enjoy, we have an undivided fellowship and a dignity common to all.  We are living stones, making a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.

In Baptism, the sign of the cross “makes royalty of all who are reborn in Christ”; and the anointing of Confirmation consecrates all of us here as priests, so that, apart from the particular obligations of the ministerial priesthood, every Christian is a member of a kingly race and shares in the priestly office.  “What could be more royal, than a soul that subjects his- or herself to God and becomes the ruler of their own body? What could be more priestly, than when a Christian consecrates a pure conscience to God, and offers the sacrifice of their devotion on the altar of their heart?”

As we gather as the local Church, then, we set aside these three oils for consecration, for use in the next twelve months.  They will be used to heal the sick and to fortify the dying; to purify those preparing for Baptism, and to consecrate ourselves, our priests and our places of worship to almighty God.  We gather as God’s priestly people, doing so solemnly, and in view of the great Christian festival of Easter.

And we do this all together, in our various orders and ranks, and all of us as one body, as royal priests, and all with one thing in view, the one thing that is necessary: after all, the Church exists to bear witness to the mystery of God’s love incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.

And we do that together, or not at all.  Everything else is secondary.

No matter our functions or ranks, whether we make our churches safe from covid, or for safeguarding, or hear Confessions or do the flowers, whether our good works are known or unknown, whether or not we are welcomed or loved or have a good reputation, as today’s disciples of Christ, filled with his Holy Spirit, we exist to bear witness to, and to communicate, the mystery of divine love incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.  And everything else is secondary.

Like Christ Himself, the Spirit of the Lord has been given to us.  Like the first followers of the Way who in Antioch were the first to be identified by the name “Christian”, we aspire to be like Christ, the anointed one, as we take that name upon ourselves.  We aspire to do God’s will, and to witness to God’s love in the world. We aspire to be people that others will take by the sleeve and say, “We have heard that God is with you; tell us about Him, that we may serve Him too, and that, like you, we may walk in His ways”.

And like Christ in tonight’s Gospel, we already have the one gift that matters: deep within us, through our Baptism and Confirmation, through our anointing with Chrism, we too can say with the Lord, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me”. In the face of all the turmoils and distress around us, we have been sent to contradict them all; we have been sent by God’s Spirit to proclaim the Lord’s “year of favour”.

Let us proclaim that year of favour, then, priests and people alike, by renewing our faith and devotion; by renewing our commitment to Christ through discipline of self; let us master ourselves with a kingly power and with a noble self-restraint; may me learn again to be priestly, to consecrate a pure conscience to God, and to offer the sacrifice of devotion on the altar of our hearts; and let us be witnesses, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, that is a renewed, and living, and attractive witness to all around of what it is to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

A very good Holy Week to you all!

*See St Leo the Great, Sermon 4,1-2.

HOMILY: Archbishop's warm thanks to clergy and laity at Chrism Mass

Archbishop Cushley has warmly thanked clergy and lay people for helping get churches reopened so people can return to Jesus in the Eucharist.

He made the comments at the annual Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh tonight (Tuesday 22 June).

The annual celebration sees the Archbishop consecrate the Sacred Chrism and bless the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick which are used by. Priests of the Archdiocese also gather renew the promises they made at their ordination to serve God and His people.

He said: "This moment affords me a chance to thank warmly our clergy and our people, many hundreds of them, who work hard every day to get our churches open, and to make them safe and welcoming places for all who come to church.

"I’d also like to thank all who have worked to put holy Mass online, and to prepare worship materials, especially for our children, to nourish people’s faith and to bring the Church into people’s lives, despite the difficulties.

As I said in my recent letter to you all, let’s do everything we can to make the life of our churches something attractive, something beautiful, something that makes people want to come to Mass, because it lifts everyone’s minds and hearts to God.  Let our celebration of the Eucharist be something that helps us live lives that give glory to God and that enrich us all spiritually on our earthly pilgrimage.

Read the Archbishop's homily below. All images Benedicta Yi Xin.



Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley, Chrism Mass, 22 June 2021

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to the Chrism Mass in this, the Year of Grace 2021.

As many of you will have noted, this is the first time that the clergy of the diocese have been able to gather in reasonable safety since the first lockdown last year.  Our last Mass together in any significant numbers was the funeral after the sudden death of Mgr Brian Halloran.  Others of our number have also since returned to the Lord, the late Fr Tommy Greenan, Fr Hugh Purcell, Mgr Tony Duffy and Fr John Scally.  Their passing has of course been marked in various places and ways already, but it is only right to name them here again today, at this first gathering of us, their brother priests, since March last year, in thanks for all that they did to serve God and his people.  May they rest in peace, along with all the faithful departed that we have lost in these difficult and strange times.

Gathering for worship

Reflecting upon what is truly essential in life of the Church, as we have been obliged to do in these last eighteen months, it has struck me how some of the simplest things that we do are among the most important ones.  One of them is the act of gathering as one people to worship God.  This action, taken simply at the human level, is something that I for one have learned to appreciate again.   We all know of its importance in principle, theologically, but when it is suddenly taken from us, as it was by Covid restrictions, we begin to realise, as has probably never occurred in living memory, the need for it as well as the simple beauty of it.  Like our rediscovery, in its absence, of the precious nature of our relation to our loved ones, the relationship to each one of us here is something that we ought to appreciate, to renew and to build up afresh.  We are all of us, after all, God’s children: we know that “in our heads”, but let us learn again to be brothers and sisters in our hearts, and in all charity to each other.  Let us learn again to appreciate this vocation, this bond among us, and turn whatever feelings of loss we have had through Covid, to good account.

Holy oils

The bishop and clergy gather tonight, with a part of God’s people here present, to consecrate the holy oils.  Not for nothing does the sacred Chrism give its name to this Mass, as the Chrism, in particular, is set aside for the most solemn consecration of people, of places and of things in this year of grace.

And I am struck afresh by the importance of this moment as an act by the bishop together with all the priests in the diocese.  Let us appreciate again these important and sacred moments that help us consecrate the whole year’s activity to God.  Let us appreciate them again, in a way that perhaps we took a little for granted in the past.  As a recent sign of that sanctification, and the work of the Spirit among us, I was very grateful to the priests for helping me confirm our young people in these days, something complicated by Covid. I also look forward to seeing the return of many other activities in our parishes soon.

Warm thanks

This moment also affords me a chance to thank warmly our clergy and our people, many hundreds of them, who work hard every day to get our churches open, and to make them safe and welcoming places for all who come to church.  I’d also like to thank all who have worked to put holy Mass online, and to prepare worship materials, especially for our children, to nourish people’s faith and to bring the Church into people’s lives, despite the difficulties.  As I said in my recent letter to you all, let’s do everything we can to make the life of our churches something attractive, something beautiful, something that makes people want to come to Mass, because it lifts everyone’s minds and hearts to God.  Let our celebration of the Eucharist be something that helps us live lives that give glory to God and that enrich us all spiritually on our earthly pilgrimage.

40 Hours Devotion

The upset in regular church attendance that I’ve just described is one of the reasons that I have decided to give fresh momentum to the 40 Hours Devotion.  I would like it to be a means of giving us a renewed sense of the importance of the Mass and of the presence of the living Lord in our midst.  From Advent onwards, therefore, we will have in place a timetable of the 40 Hours Devotion, celebrated in each of our parishes.  I hope everyone will do what they can to facilitate, welcome and promote this devotion, especially among the young.

In this context, I’m also pleased to draw attention to the diplomas, courses and initiatives of our Catechetical Commission and of the degrees now being offered through Gillis by St Mary’s University, London.  The cooperation with St Mary’s gives us a wonderful new opportunity to promote Catholic university-level education, on the ground, here in Scotland, for the first time in decades.  This is something to be welcomed warmly, and I hope that everyone will support this initiative, as well as the local ones of our Catechetical Commission, to promote a deeper love of our Lord and of our faith.

Reaching out

I would also like to encourage everyone to be imaginative in reaching out to people who are suffering socially, economically and mentally, especially our young people, through the impact of the pandemic and the consequences of government policy and its application.  Too many young people, especially young men, are suffering mentally and emotionally in a way quite unknown in living memory.  Let us not only take note, but find ways to assist and support all those who find themselves troubled in mind or spirit.

Looking ahead, we need to move from defending ourselves from Covid, and move towards a more kerygmatic and missionary way of preaching the Gospel. We will start work soon on giving our people the means to give a convincing, joyful and ready explanation of the reasons for our Christian hope, before a world that is often indifferent or hostile to Christ’s love for all people.  I hope to return to this question in the not-too-distant future.


Before I conclude, I’d like to mention four of our number who are celebrating 25 years in the priesthood: Alex Davie, Andrew Kingham and John McInnes  Two of our number are also retiring shortly: Provost Hugh White and Canon Michael Johnston.  We also have one new deacon, Josh Moir, and we will shortly have two ordinations to the priesthood, of Bobby Taylor and Martin Eckersley.  Our gratitude, prayers and good wishes accompany you all!  May the Lord bless you abundantly.

In need of God's Grace

Finally, let’s not forget that the Chrism Mass is an opportunity for the clergy to renew their promises before you, and for us to ask for your prayers and support.  This brief rite is placed here every year to remind us here that we once promised solemnly to serve the Lord, and all of you, with our whole lives.  We are also however, fallible and sinful, and in need of God’s grace, as well as your prayerful support, to live up to our solemn commitments and undertakings.  So, please pray for us and support us, helping us to be the priests, and deacons too, that we wished to be and that we promised to be on the day of our ordination.

Although we are willing to serve, we are weak and sinful.  Pray for us, that we may serve the Lord more worthily, and by doing so, serve all of you in the coming year, as we ought.

Thank you, and God bless you!