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Image: Earth Day - Sunday 22nd April 2018

20/04/2018

On 22 April Earth Day, Catholics around the globe are invited to show mercy to our common home through acts of prayer, education, service, and advocacy. This is in support of Pope Francis’ call for renewed commitments to care for creation in his Laudato Si document, in which he asked us to ‘show mercy to our common home’.


It is a that timely reminder that 97% of climate scientists agree human activity over the past century has created today’s climate trends. If we caused the problems, surely we have to find the solutions – both as individuals and, more importantly, by our collective actions.
 
The impact of what we do in Scotland has a direct effect on developing countries in South America and Africa. Although the Scottish Government has taken some very positive measures, the impact of our actions in the developed world is alarming and life threatening.
 
• Flooding destroys homes, livelihoods and lives
• Increased temperatures makes it harder to grow crops
• This leads to migration as whole communities are forced to relocate, and look for alternative means of income.
 
I was shocked to learn that despite the fact that it is those who have contributed least to climate chaos – the poor and vulnerable – are those who are hit hardest, those of us who contribute most are not responding quickly enough to make a difference.
 
Like you, I want to know what we can do in our lives to make positive changes in the lives of those most affected by global warming.
 
Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ challenges us to care for our common home by growing in faith, hope, and love; to live in healthy relationships with God, neighbour, and all creation. We are called to be ecological citizens, to make prudent decisions, and sometimes even to take bold actions. By doing so we will nurture and support human life in all its stages, as well as protect the goodness and beauty of God’s great gift of the natural environment.
 
On Earth Day let’s literally take a small step forward by walking to Church, making ourselves aware that the less we use our cars, the less we are polluting the atmosphere. It’s the simplest way to reduce our carbon footprint.

We could also encourage our Pastoral Committees to enlist our parishes in the ECO Congregations scheme.
 
And maybe we could step out of our comfort zone to persuade not only our parish but our communities to take action on reducing the use of plastics, on efficient recycling, and on the spread of renewable energy.
 
Go to the EcoCongregation Scotland website http://www.ecocongregationscotland.org/ for more information.
 
 

Let us make Earth Day a first step, to walk with Pope Francis as ‘Pilgrims of the Future,’ to support the poor and vulnerable by finding solutions by our collective actions to reduce climate change.


Image: Martin Luther King

13/04/2018

This week, singer / songwriter Frank O'Hagan writes our new blog and reflects on his musical influences and their connection to Dr Martin Luther King Jr and the civil rights movement.  


One of the highlights of my career as a singer songwriter was in July 2014 when I was invited to support Mavis Staples at the ABC 02 Glasgow. I had been an admirer of the Staple Singers and the father of the group, Roebuck "Pops" Staples for over fifty years since the 1960s. Pops (December 28, 1914 – December 19, 2000) was an American Gospel and R&B musician, a pivotal figure in gospel in the 1960s and 1970s and patriarch and member of singing group, the Staple Singers, which included his son Pervis and daughters Mavis, Yvonne, and Cleotha. For me to meet Mavis Staples was an honour and a privilege that I had not expected.


I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Mavis Staples in the green room after the concert and it was an experience I will never forget. She was aware of my interest in her father and his involvement with the civil rights movement and we spoke about Rosa Parks whose actions led to the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott in 1955 – a turning point in the history of the plight of black Americans. I was simultaneously elated and humbled when Mavis Staples made a positive comment about my song describing the event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKRbBWuPpxQ. 


Mavis recalled that, after hearing Martin Luther King preaching in Montgomery Alabama in 1963, her father wanted to sing what Rev. King was preaching about and after a meeting with King later in 1963, Pops began writing freedom songs in support of the American civil rights movement.


It is no accident or coincidence that Pops Staples and Martin Luther King sang from the same hymn sheet regarding social justice. Both men were steeped in gospel values, King from his ministry as a Baptist preacher and Pop Staples from his gospel singing tradition and this was inextricably linked to their shared values concerning social justice and human dignity.


In King’s Sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood delivered 26 February 1965 Rev. King, Jr. focused on the question “Who are the least of these? ” (St. Matthew 25). I used this quote from St. Matthew in a song entitled ‘What did we ever learn from history?’   which refers to the rhetoric of Rev. King.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z49ZIjzgY7Q 

In this tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, may I conclude by quoting a section of that speech and sermon, which related so closely to today’s issues of justice and peace:


“Who are the least of these? The least of these are those who still find themselves smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in an affluent society. Who are the least of these? They are the thousands of individuals who see life as a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign. Who are the least of these? They are the little boys and little girls who grow up with clouds of inferiority floating in their little mental skies because they know that they are caught in conditions of economic deprivation. Who are the least of these? They are the individuals who are caught in the fatigue of despair. And somehow if we are to be a great nation, we must be concerned about the least of these, our brothers.


“And we’ve been in the mountain of indifference too long and ultimately we must be concerned about the least of these; we must be concerned about the poverty-stricken because our destinies are tied together. And somehow in the final analysis, as long as there is poverty in the world, nobody can be totally rich.”



Image: How We Can Come Together For Peace

06/04/2018

Ross Ahlfeld of Glasgow Catholic Worker writes this week's blog and reflects on his hopes for the new Pax Christi Scotland initiative.


I was delighted to learn recently, that the good folks at Justice and Peace Scotland have decided to nurture and develop the implementation of a Pax Christi group for Scotland. We Catholic Workers in Scotland, very much welcome this initiative. We also look forward to benefiting from Justice and Peace Scotland’s efforts to disseminate Pax Christi’s unique vision for reconciliation to the wider Scottish justice and peace network. Indeed, the practical application of Pax Chrisiti’s excellent resources on prayer and nonviolence to our specific Scottish context is something we should all be excited about.
 
Yet, you may well ask, in what specific way will a Scottish Pax Christi impact on Scotland’s Justice and Peace movement? 
 
Perhaps one small example might be our annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross procession through the streets of Glasgow. This year, Glasgow Catholic Worker used Pax Christi’s 'Follow Me - The Way of the Cross' booklet. This wonderful little booklet is a brilliant resource for groups and communities, offering prayers and reflections taken from the writings of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter.

As we moved off from the Cenotaph at George Square, we reflected on the misery of war and the legacy of our city’s shameful involvement in the slave trade. We then stopped at the ‘Sleeping Jesus’ statue and thought on our homeless friends who come to our soup kitchen every Friday night. Then, at the ‘Hielanman's Umbrella’ we prayed for an end to pollution and poverty and at various other stops on the way down to the banks of the Clyde.
 
Finally, we reflected on refugees and asylum before our last station and concluding prayer at St Andrew’s Cathedral. At each station someone would say a few short words using the text supplied by Pax Christi with reflections by Blessed Franz Jägerstätter.
 
And so, maybe it would be helpful for us to think of the aforementioned application of Pax Christi’s charism to a Glasgow setting, as offering a tantalising example of how we might build a uniquely Scottish Pax Christi identity within our own culture.
 
Finally, all around the world we see the forces of destruction and war gathering and growing like a shadow across the land. As such, peacemakers are urgently required to get to work: we cannot wait until it’s too late. To do this work, we require an inclusive and diverse peace movement just as we seek broad and inclusive Church and society and a Pax Christi Scotland will certainly help in this regard. To quote the Pax Christi’s ‘Follow Me’ booklet – ‘Know that peacemaking is as at least as hard as making war! Remind us, Lord, that your peace is much more than the absence of war and conflict.’    



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