Monday, 1 December 2014

St Andrew, Patron Saint of Scotland

As the National Shrine of Saint Jude, we often remember British saints at our daily Mass. Today is the Feast Day of St Andrew, Patron Saint of Scotland and fellow Apostle to Saint Jude. 

The New Testament states that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, and Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them "fishers of men". At the beginning of Jesus' public life, they occupied the same house at Capernaum.

Tradition states that Andrew was martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. A tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), now commonly known as a "Saint Andrew's Cross" — at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.

About the middle of the 10th century, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought by divine guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern town of St Andrews stands today.

Like Saint Jude, Andrew was one of the first messengers of the Good News. At the Shrine, we thank him for that. 

St Andrew, pray for us. Saint Jude, pray for us.

We have a number of saints’ prayer cards that can be purchased from our Gift Shop.

With thanks to Wikipedia for some of the above information

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Thoughts from our Chaplain - First Sunday of Advent

How often does someone lose concentration or doze off whilst driving and only just manage to get control of the car before a fatal accident occurs?  Our spiritual life is like driving a car. We can be going about our business, attempting to live our faith, but taking things for granted. Warning signs are often ignored. And suddenly, we fall spiritually asleep, missing the opportunities the Lord provides for us to experience His Presence, His Love and Compassion. Sometimes we get so involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it. Or we can be so determined to reach out to Christ in strangers and experience His Presence in those whom we do not know, that we ignore His Presence in our brother and sister, our parents or our children, and of course ourselves.

“Stay awake” is the theme for this First Sunday of Advent. The Master of the house is the Lord. His coming is at the end of our lives to determine our capacity to receive an infinite share of His love. If He comes and finds us ready and waiting, the door of our life truly open to His Presence, then we have nothing to worry about.

And so, we watch. We watch for the signs of the spiritual in our lives. We watch for the presence of Christ. Without the spiritual, our lives would be self-destructive. Without the spiritual we wander like the people of the first reading from Isaiah. They wandered aimlessly. They got themselves into all sorts of trouble. Possessions, selfishness, arrogance, all dominated their lives and destroyed them. A main theme of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, is that left to their own devices, people can become self-destructive.

And so we stay awake, and we watch. We watch for the Divine Healer to come and lead us into His Love. We watch for the times when God extends His Love to us. We watch for the times when we serve His Love by serving others. We watch for the opportunities to unite ourselves closer to His Love through prayer and sacrifice. We wait. We watch.

We long for Jesus’ presence. If we deny this need, this necessity for God to be in our lives, then we chance becoming useless shells, Christians on the outside which people see, but not much on the inside.  Advent is the season of hope. The promises of the prophets will be fulfilled; that the Messiah will come to return the world to God’s original plan. Our thirst for the Messiah will be quenched not just on 25 December, but every day of our lives.

We wait. We watch. We stay awake.

Fr Michael Manning, O.Carm.