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.

LISTEN: Canon Jock leads BBC Radio worship service

Listen to Canon Jock Dalrymple of St John's & St Mary Magdalene's, Edinburgh lead a prayer service this Sunday at 7:30am on BBC Radio Scotland (and 7th & 14th August).

He is joined by parishioners Alice Codling and Anne Jabir and this Sunday reflects on St Mary Magdalene and what it means to be holy.

Listen to the first programme here.


Archbishop Cushley to discuss church reopenings on BBC Radio Scotland

Archbishop Cushley will appear on national radio tomorrow (Sunday 14 June) to discuss the reopening of Catholic churches in Scotland.

He is a guest on the Sunday Morning show on BBC Radio Scotland to chat with host Tony Kearney on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. He is expected to be interviewed at 11:20am.

It follows the publication of guidelines from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland ahead of Phase 2 of the Scottish Government's route map out of lockdown.

Phase 2, the date of which is expected to be announced on Thursday, will see churches reopening for private prayer.


Also appearing on BBC Radio Scotland that morning is Father Jock Dalrymple of St John's and St Mary Magdalene's in Edinburgh. He leads a worship service on the New Every Sunday programme at 7:30am.

AUDIO: Archbishop Cushley on Thought for the Day

Archbishop Leo Cushley spoke this morning on BBC Radio Scotland to give his Thought for the Day, discussing the importance of feeling peace in our heart and safety in our places of worship.

"You know, we’re a security conscious lot. Most of us lock up our homes and vehicles and use passwords to protect our phones and computers. We want to feel safe. We want to feel secure.

"However, the latest terror incident in London on Sunday highlighted again that few places are ever completely safe.Not even our places of worship.

"The Scottish Government recently announced funding to protect such places. The scheme makes half-a-million pounds available to churches, temples and mosques to install security measures to protect them against hate crime. 

"It’s a move meant to reassure us that no-one should fear violence, and that’s surely to be commended. But security gates and CCTV, while practically important, will never be 100 per cent effective.

"That got me thinking about what creates the conditions to make us feel secure. So, where’s your safe place?

"Well, families and close relationships ought to be places where we feel secure and loved.

"Our communities are also places where we should feel secure if we know neighbours are looking out for us. Feeling connected, cared for and comforted gives us a certain peace of mind. 

"When the disciples were feeling vulnerable, Jesus told them to trust God, saying: ‘Let not your heart be troubled’. He knew that the heart is our safe place and that it must be protected above all things.

"Why? Because when your heart is troubled, it robs you of all your peace (if you’ve been broken-hearted, you’ll know what I mean). But when our heart is safe and serene, well, that’s a different story.  It lifts our whole being.

"Knowing this, gives us the empathy required to help others with spiritual and practical support. And when our heart is in the right place, we all benefit and our communities become safer places for everyone. 

"I hope all places of worship will be treated as sanctuaries of prayer and safety; and I hope your heart and your home are a haven of peace today."

Broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland, on Thursday 05 January.

AUDIO: Archbishop Cushley reflects on a happy Thanksgiving memory

Archbishop Leo Cushley, recalls a happy memory of Thanksgiving during his time in the US. Broadcast this morning (28 November) on BBC Radio Scotland's Thought for the Day.

"After about one o’clock this afternoon, I’ll start getting emails and e-cards from various pals of mine in America, wishing me – that’s right – a Happy Thanksgiving!

"I enjoy receiving these greetings because I happened to have the great good fortune to have lived in the States for three years.

"I worked in New York, and as my first Thanksgiving approached, I was looking forward to couple of days off. Then out of the blue I received an invitation from a family I barely knew to come and join them for thanksgiving.  I accepted the kind invitation and – in spite of being almost a stranger to them – they made me very welcome.

"In fact, for all three years I was in the States, they invited me over, without fail, for Thanksgiving, and they have since become firm friends of mine.

"Thanksgiving is said to have started when early English settlers wanted to give gratitude to God for the safe arrival of their boats to America. A competing claim is that pilgrims, grateful for a good harvest, celebrated with Native Americans who had helped them through a time of scarcity.

"In any case, what I saw was a moment for giving thanks for many good things received throughout the year.  And the second thing I found was that it was the moment for many families to get together - for some even more important than Christmas is to us - and in a country the size of the United States, a family gathering like that, even once a year, can be a major undertaking.

"These are lessons that have stayed with me.  That our cousins in America find time to cross their huge country to get together as families remains a very happy memory for me.  And that they do so to return thanks for their blessings is also something that I won’t forget.

"Everything that really matters to us usually comes from somewhere else: like life, love and happiness, and it’s only right that we should give thanks for them.

"So, Happy Thanksgiving!"