HOMILY: Festival Mass, St Mary's Cathedral

Archbishop Cushley celebrated the annual Festival Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh yesterday (Sunday 21 August).

Among the congregation were the city's Lord Provost, Robert Aldridge, and the Very Rev. Colin Sinclair, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland.

In his Homily, the Archbishop highlighted the inspirational foundations of the Festival and said: "It is successful, not only when there are great names performing and lots of things to see and to do, but when our great city promotes the dignity and worth of us all, from the greatest to the least."

Homily

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh, Festival Mass, St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh , 21 August 2022

My dear friends,

A warm welcome to our Cathedral on the happy occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival

In your name, I’m very pleased to welcome for the first time Councillor Robert Aldridge, the Right Honourable Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, a number of our city’s councillors, several distinguished representatives of the City’s Consular Corps, representatives of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta and of the Holy Sepulchre, the city’s High Constables, and other distinguished guests and friends.

In particular, I’d like to welcome my dear friend Very Rev. Colin Sinclair, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland.  Thank you for honouring us with your presence today.

As many of you will know by now, the scripture readings that we have just heard are part of a cycle read everywhere in the Catholic Church throughout the world every day, and do not indicate a choice on my part to make some point about politics or diplomacy or the concert of nations.

They’re simply the next readings up for the prayerful consideration of those at Mass today throughout the world. But, as always, in their own curious, providential way, they do give us something to think about, if we let them.  Every day’s a school day.  So, what does Isaiah or Jesus of Nazareth have to say to us about the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival?

In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus is asked by a stranger “how many” people will be saved.  In his reply, Jesus ignores the “how many” part of the question and instead replies with a look at the “how”.

So, how are people to be redeemed?  Well, Jesus says, the best way to find redemption is by taking the “narrow path” and entering by the “narrow gate”.  Whatever he meant, it doesn’t sound very easy or comfortable, because it makes all of us look at our lives and, if we’re honest, we easily find room for improvement.  But it’s not a reply that lumps us all together.

Elsewhere, in St John, Jesus calls himself the Way and the Gate. But here, it seems that we are all going to have to find our own path, we’re all going to have find the narrow gate that applies to us.  To every one of us, the greatest and the least.  We are individuals, with the same dignity and worth, it is true, with similar possibilities, but we will also have to find our own path through life, to what makes us completely human, and in harmony with our maker.

In one of his excellent books on the scriptures, the late Rabbi Jonathan Sachs quotes an old Jewish proverb which talks of the Mint of God.  Not the After Eight kind of mint, but the Royal Mint kind.  Imagine that God had a mint like the Royal Mint.  The Royal Mint produces coins that are absolutely identical to each other, in look, weight, feel, and value.  That, of course, is the point of a mint.

Now, imagine that God had a mint for minting human beings in his image and likeness.  We believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God; because we are like God, we have our dignity and worth; and that helps us to see why by extension human life is sacred.  But when the divine Mint creates a human being, that person is unique.

Any coin of the realm can replace any other coin of the same denomination.  But we who are minted in the divine Mint, in God’s image and likeness, with the same dignity and worth as Him and as each other, are utterly and completely unique.  We are irreplaceable.  There never was, and there never will be, another human being like you.  We are made in the image and likeness of God, but we are also utterly unique.

And this is one reason why the celebration of the human person, the human spirit, in a festival such as ours in Edinburgh, born at it was in the face of war with Nazi Germany and the tyranny of states, is so important.  From the greatest to the least, we all share this dignity; from the greatest to the least, we are all irreplaceable, utterly unique.

I was in Washington DC last week and a stranger, upon discovering I was from Edinburgh, started to talk to me enthusiastically about the Edinburgh International Festival.

It has gone from a modest idea proposed by the late Sir Rudolph Bing into a major contribution to the world of music, theatre and the arts.  A Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, Bing wanted to create a celebration that was not only an antidote to the policies of extremist governments, but also one that would put the human person and the human spirit back at the centre of our world, our concerns and our efforts to better ourselves.

All of us, regardless of who or what we are, have imagination, we have spirit, we have a sense of right and wrong.  And above all, each of us is utterly unique, and worthy of respect, in spite of our personal frailties and shortcomings. In its own way, the Edinburgh International Festival is an extension and a consequence of that.  At its best, it aspires to be a festival of the dignity of the human person.

We’re entitled to take some civic pride in the Festival, but it is more significant than that because it started being about disarming the extremists and the nihilists; it was about putting the human person, the human spirit at the centre of what we do.  It was about denying ground to the extremists who don’t believe in the dignity and worth of human beings.

It was to contradict the bien pensants, those who “know better” than the rest of us, those who don’t really believe in humanity’s worth.  This is particularly important when we look back to the post-Nazi roots of this festival and forward to what is happening in places such as the Ukraine.

As we give thanks for the 75th anniversary of the Festival and for the way in which the city of Edinburgh has embraced the vision of Sir Rudolf Bing, we recall that the Festival is most successful when it is a celebration of the human person, and the human spirit; it is successful, not only when there are great names performing and lots of things to see and to do, but when our great city promotes the dignity and worth of us all, from the greatest to the least.

Have a happy Festival, and God bless you all!

GALLERY: Mass for Married & Engaged Couples!

Two couples clebrating an impressive 60 years of marriage were among those who gathered at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh last night.

Helen & Vincent Robinson and Maureen & Robert Mochrie helped cut the cake following the Mass, which included a blessing of engaged and married couples.

Helen & Vincent Robinson, left, and Maureen & Robert Mochrie with Archbishop Leo  in the Coffee Saints Cafe after Mass.

Archbishop Leo said in his homily: "Let me congratulate all of you on the happy occasion of your various anniversaries, great and small, and ask you to pray with me for those contemplating marriage, and for those who misrepresent it and misunderstand it.

From left, Deacon Tom McEvoy, Archbishop Leo and Fr Jeremy Milne (Vicar Episcopal for Marriage & Families).

"May we learn again as a society to value marriage, and to promote it to the greater good of everyone."

Those attending wore badges showing how long they have been married and woman received a rose from members of the Archdiocesan Marriage & Families Commission. Afterwards, people gathered in Coffee Saints for refreshments and cake.

Anna and Janusz Nieciecki, left, with Rosemary and Andrew Milligan - all members of the Archdiocesan Commission for Marriage and Families.

The event was organised organised by Fr Jeremy Milne and the Marriage & Families Commission.

Gallery

 

Deacon John Smith with wife Louise - members of the Archdiocesan Commission for Marriage & Families.

The Mass for Married & Engaged Couples was organised by the Fr Jeremy Milne VE and the Commission for Marriage & Family Life.

 

Church restores obligation to attend Sunday Mass 

Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have announced that the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday is to be restored from Sunday 6th March.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference, says that the obligation to attend will apply “given the easing of restrictions in every other walk of life”.

He adds that the requirement to attend, “does not apply to those who are sick and their carers or to those aware of their greater vulnerability to the virus”. Read his pastoral letter below.

Pastoral Letter

On the Restoration of the Mass Obligation in the Dioceses of Scotland  

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The obligation for Catholics to celebrate Sunday as a Holy Day by gathering together for Mass will be restored from the First Sunday in Lent, Sunday 6th March.

Given the easing of restrictions in every other walk of life, the Church looks forward to welcoming Catholics back to Holy Mass. As always, the obligation does not apply to those who are sick and their carers or to those aware of their greater vulnerability to the virus.

May the continuing recovery of our country bring new hope to us all especially those who are ill, those who mourn loved ones, those who are apprehensive and those who have sustained us in so many ways throughout the Pandemic.

We, the Bishops of Scotland, take this opportunity to thank our clergy and our parish volunteers for all their efforts. May our Lenten journey this year lead us to a renewed appreciation of our Catholic faith, of the celebration of the Eucharist and of the presence of the Risen Christ who is always at our side.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert
President
Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

GALLERY: Mass for Feast of the Holy Innocents

Archbishop Cushley celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents on Tuesday in St Margaret's Chapel at the Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

In his homily he said: "A recent pro-life slogan is 'Love Them Both'. I like that because it's about the child and the mother. It will not be by shouting but by our loving example and the grace of almighty God that people's hearts will change on abortion."

Also attending was Donna Cameron from Stanton Healthcare (East of Scotland), a new centre that will provide free practical support and advice for pregnant women.

Archbishop Cushley during Mass at St Margaret's Chapel.

Archbishop Cushley and Fr Jeremy Milne, VIcar Episcopal for Marriage & Family life, chat with Donna Cameron, of Stanton Healthcare (East of Scotland).

Archbishop Cushley with members ofthe Knights of St Columba.

Donna Cameron, of Stanton Healthcare (East of Scotland) and Paul Atkin, of the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Office.

Bishops postpone return of Sunday Mass Obligation

The Bishops' Conference of Scotland has postponed the restoration of the Sunday Mass Obligation.

In a statement released today, they said: "At the beginning of Advent the Bishops of Scotland looked forward to welcoming the faithful back to Holy Mass and anticipated that the restoration of the Sunday Obligation might be possible as we begin the New Year.

"Sadly, there has been a serious worsening of the situation and the restoration of the obligation [which was set for Sunday 2 January] will be postponed until a more favourable time."

Holy Day

They added: "For us Sunday is always a Holy Day and we invite those who are unable to be with us in person to continue to join with us in prayer and spiritual communion either by personal or family prayers or by online celebrations of Mass.

"We ask everyone to continue to pray for a speedy end to the Pandemic and for the good health of you and your loved ones in 2022. We also pray for all those who passed during 2021 and those who grieve.

"May Our Lady Health of the Sick pray for us and may Saints Andrew and Margaret protect us."

There are no further changes for places of worship as regards Covid guidelines.

Parishes are asked to continue best practice by ensuring face coverings are worn (unless exempt), that buildings are well ventilated and that hand sanitizer (and masks) are made available at the church entrance. Tea/coffee gatherings after Mass are permitted.

WATCH: Mass for the Deaf this Sunday

A Mass for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing takes place this Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, on YouTube at 9am.

It is celebrated by Archbishop Cushley at St Bennet's, Edinburgh, and is signed by Liz Ann O'Hare. Watch it below or on YouTube (captions available by clicking the 'cc' button onscreen).

Obligation to attend Sunday Mass returns in January

Scotland’s Catholic bishops have announced that with effect from Sunday 2 January 2022 the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of obligation will be reinstated.

The requirement was dispensed at the beginning of the pandemic and although churches opened and communal worship resumed, attendance was not obligatory.

In a pastoral letter, to be made available at all Masses across Scotland this weekend, the bishops say: "Thanks to the effort and good sense of so many, our churches have proven to be safe places.

"So, saving any serious worsening of the situation, we believe that Christmastide provides an opportune moment to restore the obligation."

The bishops’ letter states that anyone who is ill, showing symptoms of COVID, having underlying health conditions or those with responsibilities for people in need of special care are not obliged to attend and anyone in those groups can continue to participate online.

The bishops go on to point out that “online participation does not fulfil the obligation” noting that “Nothing can adequately replace actual presence".

It continues: "At the heart of our Christian life is the event of the Word becoming flesh and our incorporation through the Sacraments into his Body. It’s to experience this that we come to church.”

Read the Bishops' letter here.

Archbishop encourages return to Eucharist at final online Mass

Archbishop Cushley has thanked those who joined him in prayer at his online Sunday Mass as he announced this week's would be his last.

The Mass, broadcast on Facebook, and available on YouTube and this website, has been a weekly fixture since March last year.

But with Scotland now in the lowest level of lockdown measures he is encouraging people to return to Mass at their parish if they can.

He said: "These online masses were an important measure to allow us to worship in safety, bu in thits country we are able to return to a certain level of normality.

"For those of you watching in Scotland and in this Archdiocese, let me therefore encourage you to return to the practice of your faith and to going to church.

"This will be the last of my Masses online, at least until such times as a need arises again here. I'd like to thank our clergy and the hundreds of volunteers who still work to keep our churches open and safe for everyone.

"Let me finish with a big thank you to all of you who have joined me for Mass here in my chapel in Edinburgh and have accompanied me in prayer since last March.

"It’s been a pleasure to serve you in this way."

Watch: Sunday Mass with Archbishop Cushley

Holy Mass for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, celebrated by Archbishop Leo Cushley. Recorded at St Bennet's Edinburgh. This will be the last online Sunday Mass for the time being.

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Watch: Sunday Mass with Archbishop Cushley

Holy Mass for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, celebrated by Archbishop Leo Cushley. Recorded at St Bennet's Edinburgh. 

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.