Christmas reflection from Archbishop Leo Cushley

Imagine being born in a stable.

The conditions would be cramped, dark and dirty. And you’d have the unpleasant odour of farm animals to contend with! Christmas card images of the nativity, while often beautiful, airbrush what it was like.

The reality is that our Lord was born in rather abysmal conditions by today’s standards. I don’t know about you, but that makes me marvel. The lesson here is that we’d all do well to imitate such profound humility. Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel was in obedience to the Lord: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Christmas is a special time because it brings out the best in people. When we’re humble enough to put others’ needs ahead of our own, everyone benefits.

There’s an annual rise in the number charitable donations each December. Churches and charities across Scotland and beyond hold toy schemes so children can wake up to a present on Christmas morning.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul, which has conferences in many parishes across our Archdiocese, has been busy with Christmas hamper and toy appeals as well as hosting Christmas lunches for the elderly. They couldn’t do it without your generous contributions to the SSVP box after Mass.

We all know that many people struggle at this time of year. While that’s easy to acknowledge, the challenge is to act. No matter how small the sacrifice – a charity tin donation, a coffee with someone who is lonely, a volunteering opportunity – we can all lend a hand. And if you already do this, please continue your good work.

Humility is the basis for opening our hearts and the inspiration to serve others. It leads us to focus a bit less on ourselves (good) and a bit more on others (better). St Bernard says: "Humility is the foundation and guardian of virtues."

When we begin to be more humble we better develop other attributes. How awful to be described as someone who only cares for themselves!

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is a model of humility. Her example of obedience to the will of God stands starkly in contrast with today’s ‘me first’ culture.

Her consent to become the Mother of God changed the course of history. Over 2,000 years later, Christians across the world continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, in a stable in Bethlehem, in such humble conditions.

May your Christmas be filled with peace and joy. God bless you all.

Archbishop Leo Cushley

VIDEO: Carol concert keeps Christ in Christmas

The sound of carols floated across The Mound in Edinburgh at the annual Nativity Carol Concert on Sunday.

The event marked the first day of Advent and featured the Salvation Army brass band, Blackhall St Columba's Choir, Wester Hailes Education Centre Choir and St Andrew's and St George's West Choir.

Bishop John Armes (Scottish Episcopal Church) gave the Christmas message while and Rev Angus Mathieson (Church of Scotland) brought prayers for the City.

Sir Tom Farmer, who sponsors the crib, said: “Aren’t we lucky to live in the greatest city in the world? A number of cities throughout the world no longer celebrate that birth. I congratulate Edinburgh Council for have made sure there is a nativity scene in the city for the last 17 years.”

Archbishop Leo Cushley told those who gathered: “This is a lovely new venue for the crib, right next to the city’s Christmas tree as well. I hope it will contribute to helping people remember why we celebrate with this special festival each year at the beginning of Advent.”

Blessing the crib, he prayed: “God our loving Father we ask you to be close to us as we recall the birth of your son at Christmas. We ask you to bless this image of him and his family so that everyone who sees it will be reminded of he true meaning of Christmas and how you sent your son to save us.”

 

 

Catholics to 'kick-start' Advent with carols at Nativity scene

Archbishop Leo Cushley is encouraging Catholics to 'kick-start' their Advent at the annual Nativity Carol Concert in Edinburgh.

The ecumenical event will see carols sung by Blackhall St Columba’s Choir, St Andrew’s and St Georges West Choir, Wester Hailes Education Centre Choir, and the Salvation Army Brass Band. The Nativity Scene itself is donated by Catholic businessman and entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer and his wife.

The free event takes place on Sunday 1 December at 3pm and will be at a new location on The Mound in the city centre.

Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “It’s a great way to kick-start the Advent season. Choirs singing carols, a beautifully lit nativity scene and The Salvation Army bringing the brass! It’s also a positive witness of our Catholic faith -  a chance to show the joy that comes from trusting in God by singing His praise.

"In these days when religion is often pushed to the margins, we’ll be together in a busy city centre location, with other Christians, to announce the Good News of the coming of the Saviour. A special thanks to Sir Tom and Lady Farmer for continuing to donate the nativity scene each year.

"I’m looking forward to blessing the crib, and if it’s a cold day, some enthusiastic carol singing will help keep us all warm!”