Monday, 26 July 2010

Happy Tidings - Vocations

We are often assailed with the reality of drastic falls in the numbers of priestly and religious vocations in today's world.  Well, here is some good news. 

I was very pleased indeed to receive a telephone call from Mark, a wonderful young gentleman and one whom I count as a dear friend, that after some wait he has finally received news from Rev. Fr. Banauch the rector of the FSSP seminary at Wigratzbad in Germany.  What news?  He has been accepted as a seminarian and commences studies for the Sacred and Holy Priesthood in October. Deo Gratias!

(photos from

We had the rare privilege in attending the priestly ordinations at Wigratzbad in 2009 (click here for link to post) and I think this may have been one of the defining moments in Mark's discernment of his vocational journey.

Mark is the second "home grown" Scottish Catholic to join the FSSP (the first being Rev. Fr. Harkins FSSP who celebrated his First Solemn Mass in Edinburgh last month (see earlier post).

For those unfamiliar with our situation in Scotland we only have one small FSSP community in Edinburgh attending the usus antiquior, usually numbering about 50 - 70 at Sunday MassHowever that number belies the fact that in the past two years we have witnessed with great joy and thanksgiving a total of FIVE young men and women setting out on their journey of faith.  Helen to St Cecilia's Benedictine Abbey on the Isle of Wight, Yanush to the Carthusian Charterhouse at Parkminster, England.  This summer Garry and Christian finished their studies at Edinburgh University and both have been accepted as seminarians for their respective English Diocese.  Now, Mark is commencing his journey in October.

Time and again we hear and read of the remarkable phenomenon regarding the steady, and in some cases rapid, increase in vocations in Orders and Societies which either continue or have reverted to follow the traditional liturgy, teachings and way of life.  At the same time "modern" seminaries continue to close through lack of vocations.  Here is Scotland we have no seminaries at all.  Diocesan seminarians now have to travel overseas to be formed - how tragic and sad that it has come to this.

Please pray for Mark and all young men and women who have started their journey to the priestly or religious life that through the Power of The Holy Ghost they will continue to grow in faith and love of God our Father and our Saviour Christ Jesus. 

O Holy Spirit, Spirit of wisdom and divine love, impart Your knowledge, understanding, and counsel to youth that they may know the vocation wherein they can best serve God. Give them courage and strength to follow God's holy will. Guide their uncertain steps, strengthen their resolutions, shield their chastity, fashion their minds, conquer their hearts, and lead them to the vineyards where they will labour in God's holy service.
Mary Mother of God - pray for them, 
St John Vianney - pray for them, 
St Benedict - pray for them,
St John Ogilvy - pray for them.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Our Lady of Aberdeen

Friday the 9th of July was our Patronal Feast Day in the Diocese of Aberdeen therefore a First Class Feast Day.  Unfortunately I was amazed to find out that in my local chapel there was not even a mention of this Feast never mind a Mass in Her Honour.

A Little history

Located in a side chapel in a Brussels church is one of Scotland's treasures, a statue of Our Lady and Child which was saved from destruction in Aberdeen during the Reformation.  For sixty-five years, it was hidden until it was shipped to safety in the Low Countries.  Despite her intention to keep the statue in the Royal Palace, the Infanta of Spain, the Archduchess Isabella, was persuaded to place it in the newly built Augustinian church in Brussels.  

The statue remained in this church until 1796, when it was again removed for protection into private hands, this time to escape the ravages of the French Revolution. An Englishman, John Morris, safely restored it to the Augustinians in 1805 and it remained in their care as an object of devotion until 1814 when it was removed to the neighbouring Church of Our Lady of Finisterre.  It is still venerated there as Our Lady of Good Success.

Since the Restoration of the Scottish Hierarchy in 1878, devotion to Our Blessed Lady in Aberdeen, throughout the diocese, and further afield, has focused on copies of this ancient statue including the statue (above) which stands in the Chapel of Our Lady at Saint Mary's Cathedral Aberdeen.  Why won't the Belgians give us back the original statue?

Here is the old version of the Hymn to Our Lady:

Our Lady of Good Succour,
In the city by the sea,
Where the Don flows down the valley
To greet the silver Dee,
The ashes of faith still smoulder
Where the fire of the faith has been:
Bring the old faith back to Scotland
Our Lady of Aberdeen.

Our Lady of Good Succour,
In the country saints have trod,
While martyrs and brave confessors
Who gave their lives for God,
O hear the prayer of Columba,
Of Margaret, Saint and Queen:
Bring the old faith back to Scotland
Our Lady of Aberdeen.

Our Lady of Good Succour,
The love of God grows cold
In a country that has forgotten
The saving truths of old;
But a brighter dawn is breaking
And a fairer hope is seen:
Bring the old faith back to Scotland
Our Lady of Aberdeen.

Our Lady of Good succour,
In the happy days of old
Men deck'd thy gracious image
With silver and with gold;
Though darker days succeeded
Thou still art Scotland's Queen,
Come back, come back to Scotland,
Our Lady of Aberdeen.

As I said this is the old version.  Some years ago I sadly recall the then Bishop of Aberdeen, Bishop Conti, (currently Archbishop of Glasgow) commissioned new wording to make it more "ecumenical" so as not to upset the Protestants.  Phrases such as 'the old faith' were removed and replaced with PC wording.

Reflecting on this version I marvel that, whilst written approximately one hundred years ago by Mother Francis Forbes R.S.C.J., its currency remains as true today as when penned by this devout Scottish religious.

My local chapel may not have honoured Our Lady but I was very pleased to find at the FSSP chapel in Edinburgh today that this was chosen as the recessional hymn.  Also that wonderful community The Sons of The Most Holy Redeemer wrote a fine article on their blog.  Strange the only two places I visited which honoured this Feast day were Traditional communities!