[This is a repost of an earlier reflection. I felt it appropriate, given our interest in Fr. Despard. The Church in Scotland is undergoing a very grave crisis. This post will underscore how things were so different when I was a boy]
I was born a Catholic in Scotland in 1937, and baptized a week after my birth. During my formative years, I have no recollection of ever missing Mass on Sunday or holy days of obligation. On Wednesdays and Fridays we attended Rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. At school I was given a thorough Catholic education from Primary through Secondary School. I became an Altar boy at St. Ignatius Parish where I lived when I reached nine years of age.
What was the Catholic Church like during the years of my youth? The church building itself was seen as a sacred place. It was God's house, so when you entered God's house, you left the world outside those doors. The silence inside the church was very apparent. People recognized that God was on his throne in the tabernacle, and many were already praying in silence with Jesus. This silence was evident at all Masses. The priests would tell us that the time for talking was outside after Mass. You had to show respect for those who remained after Mass to make their thanksgiving.
St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish. Photo © Diocese of Motherwell
Today there are things which cause me to grieve for the state of my Church , which I love so much. It seems as though Satan is running rampant. He is spreading confusion and sin, blinding the faithful to the truths of the Gospel. People have lost the knowledge and love of Jesus, and how he came into this world to suffer and die to redeem us and bring us to Heaven.
There are some in the Church today who think the Church is stifling their life style. They push for abortion and contraception, women priests and the abandonment of Christian morality. I pray that they might see that the only thing all of us need is God's love. To all those bound by sin I say, with God's love and His grace we can be set free from sin. Ask and you shall be made whole.
Another issue that concerns me is the abuse of the Blessed Sacrament. From communion in the hand to the proliferation of badly trained extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the abuses are too many to fully document here. On more than one occasion, I have found the Blessed Host in a Hymn Book, or in the pew. Once I had to ask a person to take the host from his pocket and consume it. I could go on, but will leave you with this one thought: the greatest honor for a Catholic is not to be in the Sanctuary assisting the priest. It is to be able to approach the altar rail, if there is one, and to kneel in total adoration, as you receive Our Lord Jesus Christ and to contemplate the wonder of what He has done for you and what you have just received.