Rediscovering Scotlands Place In Christ
What springs to mind when we think of vocation? Most of us will probably think of state of life: whether ordained, religious or married or we might think of our universal call to holiness as adopted children of God and eternal life with Him. We might consider our familial & community works, our Christian witness or employment. All of which are indeed vocational and part of the very personal call God our Father has for us as he lovingly ‘committed some work to me which He has not committed to another’ (Cardinal Newman). A work, which if not done by me, cannot be done by another….there’s a thought! God willed every one of us into existence deliberately, thoughtfully and tenderly in His very own image and likeness, bestowing upon us our own beautifully unique combination of gifts, talents and charisms so we can share them with others in ways no-one else can achieve. As St Paul so eloquently tells the Corinthians, ‘…the parts are many but the body is one’.(1 Corinth 12:20)
But conflict and sin distorts our sense of God-given dignity and this struggle hinders our ability to see our own and others worth. We become smothered under so many layers of falsehoods that they fuse into a weighty casket; obscuring our very nature, essence and uniqueness until we appear disfigured and drab, mere shadows of ourselves, too frightened to show our true glorious and splendid nature in all its exquisite detail. Often we begin to forget it even exists. However, our faith teaches us that neither our own sins nor those afflicted upon us can undo anything God holds in existence; they can only weaken and corrupt it. That although wounded by sin, the radiant image of God is still present in each one of us and He can (and longs to!) restore us to our full glory, by healing us, forgiving us and breaking the chains holding us down. His hand of mercy eagerly hovers over the disfigured and ill-fitting casket obscuring our majesty, awaiting the meekest entreaty from us to cast it away and allow us to shine in awesome splendour. And what a splendour, because once we allow Him to free us, by repenting of our sins and imitating his acceptance of the Cross, He sets about zealously restoring, moulding and polishing us; transforming even the ugliest of wounds that they may become our crowning glory. It’s why God became man! Christ took upon Himself our broken nature so he could restore it to Himself – if we but ask. Only then can He reveal once again our most authentic and magnificent selves uniquely reflecting an aspect of His Brilliance.
As wondrous as this is for each of us created out of the overflowing love in God’s heart, so it is equally true for every single nation and culture he formed for ‘he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him.’ (Acts 17:26-7). In pouring out His Holy Spirit upon peoples and cultures, He bestows their populations with a unique, splendid complement of gifts and charisms different from every other nation on earth. Gifts and charisms which are at their most fruitful when working in harmony with the others around them for the good of the whole body….given to offer God the full measure of glory and praise in all its radiant expressions….given to fulfil a need in the world that no-one else can fill. In short, gifts and charisms given to complete some work which He has not committed to another nation.
So who are we; Scots, Picts & Celts given this land out of the Divine Love throbbing in the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Where lies our resplendent dignity, charisms and aptitudes awe inspiringly different to those given to our Nordic, Anglo-Saxon or European neighbours? What does our unique culture, language & history tell us of these charisms and what is the work God has committed to us that He has committed to no other? How do we discern and follow our own unique, personal vocation and how does this fit into our national vocation?
Recognizing the natural talents and charisms we’ve been given can help illuminate our vocational path, but do we know what they are? For that we need to know ourselves, our true selves free of typecasts, deceits and myths whether our own or others making. We must search, pray, listen attentively and follow humbly where He leads (which will always be in harmony with the unchanging magisterium). Then we will become fully alive and fulfilled as we recognise that God made our hearts for joy and placed our deepest desires within us so He could fulfil them for it is in freely giving of ourselves and our gifts to others, for the Lord, that brings true joy.
History teaches us time and again that God chooses unique individuals and peoples to renew His Church – Christs’ Body! With every renewal, He brings more of His precious children back into the safety of His loving arms. Is it too hard to imagine that we Scots are being called right now, in the midst of our brokenness, individually & nationally, to invite Our Lord’s hand of mercy upon us once more & permit Him to cast aside the disfiguring casket of many centuries of deceits and repressions to restore us to our true radiance?
Are we are being tested and challenged again at this point in our nations’ history? Challenged to rediscover who we really are, challenged to pray and listen before bravely setting out upon the path God leads? Challenged to re-examine and re-claim our Catholic heritage, faith and devotions stretching back to the first Papal mission to Caledonia by Pope Victor ~ 200 AD (when he sent the missionaries Marcus and Dionysius at the request of King Donald)1.
Only when we look at ourselves in the light of truth will we will value the immense gifts He has given us - always as everywhere through the intercession of Mither Mairi and her Immaculate Heart - in intimate union with the Sacred Heart of her Son. Does our Heavenly Mother only dispense her graces in other countries such as France, Portugal, Poland, Mexico or under titles local to the peoples there or has she and does she long to again work miracles in equal measure in our own country?
Is she sorrowfully and patiently waiting to be asked her intercession with the faith, devotion and thanksgiving shown her in days of old at Scotland’s multitude of tragically abandoned holy wells and shrines?
Do we trust her as our kinsfolk did when they so lovingly bestowed upon her Scots honours and titles in thanksgiving for the countless miracles she conferred and still confers (albeit it un-noticed most of the time) in this land?
Is it not sadly telling that most Scots Catholics have more devotion to her under her foreign titles and shrines than seeking her intercession on home soil; even at our incredibly beautiful National Marian shrine in Carfin? Is it not an injustice to her that Scotland’s National Marian grotto situated on the outskirts of a town founded upon her miraculous interventions has not a single statue venerating her under the title Our Lady of Good Aid of Motherwell let alone any of her other traditional Scottish titles?
We are each carefully moulded within particular time, place and circumstance, designed to fulfil a very specific mission. Yes, we are broken and sinful both individually and collectively as our nation turned its back on the true faith nearly 500 years ago. Yes, we are still suffering the consequences of that continuing denial, but our loving Father specialises in making saints in the midst of the mess ‘For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him’ Sirach 2:3-6. He aims for growth not ease and never asks anything of us without equipping us for it. All He needs is a willing heart, open to His transforming grace and ready to do His Will, for ‘the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meet’ (Frederick Buechner). Only when we again offer our Loving Father praise and petition in our native tongues, music and song, only when we reclaim our pilgrimage sites and traditional devotions petitioning the saints of this land for their intercession and only when we give glory and honour to Mother Mary under her Scots titles will we be able to fully reflect those aspects of His Divine Nature uniquely bestowed upon us. Because it’s only then that we will rediscover who we truly are as a people and hence offer our personal and national gifts to His service without reserve.
So let us begin by striking out with our pipes and fiddles to lead our nation in praise, in this final crusade for souls, in true Scots fashion! Let us wield our claymores, the Scots & Gàidhlig Rosaries available here on the spiritual battlefield and use our dirks in the form of Scots devotions and petitions to Mither Mairi and our nations saints to slay the demons after our souls. Let us reclaim our holy places once more and fill the heavens with blessings and entreaties with our unique God-given tongues and traditions; poured out upon us by His Holy Spirit from the depths of His most Loving and Sacred Heart. Then let us watch as He runs to our aid, fully equipping us for the personal and national mission that is ours and only ours as we work together to re-build His Church and fill the hunger around us that only we can fill.
The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' and nor can the head say to the feet, 'I have no need of you.’ What is more, it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones...now Christ's body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole. (1 Corinth 12: 21-22, 27)
Loirde hae mearcie!
Criste hae mearcie!
Loirde hae mearcie!
Ouer Laidy Guid Aide o’ Mitherwell - Praye for us
Ouer Laidy Guid Succese o’ Aiberdeen - Praye for us
Ouer Laidy Licht o’ Dunde – Praye for us
Haily Mither o Gode, Quein o Scots, Praye for us
St Anndra; Praye for us
St Margret; Praye for us
St John Ogilvie; Praye for us
St Serf, St Enoch, St Duthac, St Magnus, St Cumine, St Ninian, St Mungo, St Machan, St Blaan; Praye for us
A’ Sancts o this laund; Praye for us
A Bànrigh na h-Alba; A Mhàthair naomh Dhè; Guidh air ar son
Ref: 1. Dom Columba Edmonds Monk of Fort Augustus, The Early Scottish Church it’s Doctrine and Discipline (Preface by Bishop of Aberdeen, Aeneas Chisholm). Sands