Due to the coronavirus pandemic the July edition of Flourish is not being printed and is available in digital form only. You can read selected stories online on this page or download a PDF of the whole paper.

Preparing for Mass


It is often said that the faith grows stronger in times of persecution. The recent history of the Church in former Communist countries suggests there is much truth in that. And if we look further back the survival of the Catholic faith in our own land during the post-reformation persecution led ultimately to strength and new growth. Read more…


Maria’s voice has been the song of hope

Lone singing during live-streamed Sunday Masses a ‘great privilege’, says choir director
Read more…


Vatican’s new guide for teaching the faith

A new manual has been published by the Vatican which brings the approach of the Church into the digital age
Read more…


Sr Mags’ poetry lifts lockdown blues

Pandemic poetry straight from the ironing table
Read more…

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Urgent appeal

The current emergency means our churches have had to close, but costs remain and some parishes are in a difficult situation. If your own circumstances allow it, please consider helping us by donating £5 during this worrying time. The Archdiocese has set up a system whereby you can simply text RCARCHGLA to 70085 to donate £5. Please share this emergency donation option with others, especially those who may be anxious because they normally contribute to their parish through collection envelopes. Those who use collection envelopes are asked to continue to place donations in these and deliver them to the local parish after the emergency has passed.

Preparing for Mass

By Editor

It is often said that the faith grows stronger in times of persecution. The recent history of the Church in former Communist countries suggests there is much truth in that.

And if we look further back the survival of the Catholic faith in our own land during the post-reformation persecution led ultimately to strength and new growth.

In the last four months our generation has endured its own persecution. Not at the hands of a brutal regime or a merciless tyrant. But at the hands of an invisible, deadly virus which has succeeded in a way no bigot or despot ever has before… by depriving the Catholic people of the Eucharist.

Never, perhaps, has the definition of the Eucharist as “viaticum” – food for the journey – been more apt. We have been on a journey without food. We have been deprived of spiritual food for so long. Our souls are starving for bread. The Bread. The Bread of Life.

Thank God the resumption of public Masses is now on the horizon. In just a few weeks we will once more be able to gather round the altar, to be present at Calvary on our doorstep, and to receive Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity. Deo Gratias!

As we emerge from this trial, we do so stronger.

Our sense of the things of God is more acute than before.

Our desire for the Eucharist is stronger than ever.

Our appreciation of the heroic work of our priests who have ministered creatively and devotedly during the pandemic is greater than it may ever have been in our lifetime.

Our awareness of our parish community is solid, refreshed.

And so we face the future with great optimism.

This trial has shaken us out of our lethargy. It has wakened up our souls. In this edition of Flourish we have asked priests from different corners of the Archdiocese to reflect on what lessons can be learned and what positives we can take out of this period of lockdown. Read their insights on the centre pages.

“Omnia in bonum” said St Paul to the Christians of Rome 2000 years ago. “Everything works out for the good”.

It is a message we would do well to take to heart as we prepare to return to our beloved Mass.”


Bishops appeal for change in UK immigration plans


Scotland’s Bishops have launched a strong attack on the UK Government’s proposed Immigration Bill and asked MPs to amend it.

The Bill recently introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel will drastically impact the lives of EU citizens living in Scotland, most of whom are Catholic.

“We do not agree with the principle of making European citizens apply for their existing rights in the UK,” the Bishops state. Despite this they point out that “the Church is working to raise awareness of the Settlement Scheme and help those who are at risk of losing their status.

“However, no scheme will reach all European citizens in the UK. Even if a small proportion do not make an application by the June 2021 deadline, this could leave thousands of people without legal status. We encourage amendments to the bill that will create a meaningful safety-net including options to extend the deadline...”

In the joint letter with the Bishops of England and Wales, the Scottish Bishops also oppose the introduction of a minimum income threshold for families seeking to move to the UK to be reunited with loved ones.

“Some key workers who have played a vital role during the Covid-19 pandemic are among those who cannot be reunited with their families because they do not meet the minimum income threshold. This separation not only has serious implications on family life, but also has a direct impact on the development and wellbeing of children who are isolated from their parents in another country.”

The letter further criticises the bill insofar as it makes it harder for priests from Europe, Africa and Asia to work in Scottish parishes, and places undue obstacles in their path, such as language tests even though they have often been educated in English language seminaries.

Parishes will face huge bills to overcome new visa requirements if they want to host a foreign priest as typically happens in summer when clergy from overseas often provide cover in Scottish churches.

The Bishops also denounce the current practice of detaining people from overseas without limit of time if they fail the required immigration tests, which, they say “has devastating consequences for the wellbeing of vulnerable individuals who find themselves detained including some victims of torture, and survivors of trafficking…”


Maria’s voice has been the song of hope in time of trial


Musical director Maria Madden
Picture by Paul McSherry

The musical director of St Andrew’s Cathedral Choir has spoken of her great privilege at being the lone singer during the past three months of live streamed Sunday Masses celebrated by Archbishop Tartaglia.

Soloist Maria Madden and principal organist Steve Rance remain socially distanced in the choir loft and are never seen during the broadcasts.

But as Maria said: “We hope that providing music at Mass enables those watching online to come closer to Jesus and helps to enhance their enjoyment and understanding of each week’s liturgy.

“It has been a great privilege to be given this task during this time and we do not take our position for granted.

“We are aware of how very lucky we are, being able to attend Mass each Sunday, pray with the Archbishop and receive the body of Christ at a time when others are unable to do so.”

Recalling the Easter Vigil, when the choir would normally have provided the music, Maria said:”We had already put the music programmes together with the choir in mind but with a little tweaking we rearranged the hymns, psalms and Mass parts to suit a solo singer/organist.

“It was a strange and surreal journey into the Cathedral on the night of the Easter Vigil as the roads were so quiet. Walking into the empty Cathedral felt odd and unfamiliar and yet, it was as if we had never been away and it was simply wonderful to sit for a few minutes at the Blessed Sacrament and offer up a prayer before we headed upstairs to the choir loft.

“And although the Easter Vigil is the most joyful of all the Church’s liturgical celebrations, we felt a melancholy, a sadness that no-one else was there to celebrate with us in person – our choir could only listen, watch and hopefully join in from home via the live streaming service.

“There was no congregation, lighting their candles, renewing their baptismal vows, no-one being baptised or confirmed and we felt a keen sense of how fortunate we were to be there, representing all those who could not be – praying with and for them.”

Since the last choral Mass in the Cathedral on March 15, shortly before lockdown, members of the 32-strong choir have been keeping in touch via Zoom and other forms of social media.

They also plan to remotely produce a CD of some of their best loved hymns and psalms to be sold for choir funds.

Maria said: “It is likely that the cantor and organist-only arrangement will endure for some time even after the Churches are permitted to re-open for public Masses as there is some dubiety about when choirs can safely return to sung rehearsals and worship.

“Until that great day, we are simply keeping the choir’s seats warm for them until we will all be together again.”


Vatican launches new guide for teaching the faith

A new manual for teaching the faith has been published by the Vatican which brings the approach of the Church into the digital age.

The updated Directory for Catechesis was released in the Vatican last month and proposes three major principles of action: Witnessing, Mercy and Dialogue.

The first part focuses on the formation of catechists and points out that in order to be credible witnesses of the faith, catechists have to be “catechised before being catechists.”

Archbishop Fisichella launches the new guide at the Vatican
Archbishop Fisichella launches the new guide at the Vatican

In its later chapters the Directory proposes the use of art through the contemplation of beauty as a means of connecting with God, and sacred music as a way of instilling the desire for God in the heart of people.

The role of the family also comes to the fore. There those being evangelised can live the faith in a simple and spontaneous way. In the face of new family models, Christians are called to accompany others with closeness, listening and understanding in order to restore hope and trust to all.

The Directory also highlights the importance of “welcoming and recognising” the differently-abled. It stresses that they are witnesses to the essential truths of human life and are to be welcomed as a great gift.

The Directory calls for solidarity with migrants, who, far from their homeland, may experience a crisis of faith. Migrants are to be supported in the fight against prejudices and the serious dangers they may face, such as human trafficking.

It also calls for attention to be given to prisons describing them as an “authentic mission land”. It proposes that for prisoners, catechesis should take the form of a “caring listening which shows the maternal face of the Church.”

The third part, entitled “Catechesis in Particular Churches”, is dedicated to catechesis in parishes, and other Church associations.

Parishes, it says, should provide creative catechesis adapted to people’s lived experience. Catholic schools, should become “scholastic-communities” of faith with an educational project based on Gospel values.

The Directory proposes that catechesis should be directed towards educating people in the proper use of digital culture, which has both good and bad elements. Catechesis should also focus on helping young people distinguish truth and quality amid the “culture of the instantaneous.”

Other themes highlighted by the Directory include the call to a “profound ecological conversion”. Catechesis promotes this conversion through attention to the safeguarding of creation and the avoidance of consumerism.”


Sr Margaret’s poetry lifts lockdown blues


A well-kent member of Glasgow’s “own” religious order has emerged as a social media star during the COVID lockdown with her unique delivery of “Poems from my Ironing Table”.

Sister Margaret McGrath, a Franciscan of the Immaculate Conception, ministers in St Joseph’s Tollcross and St Joachim’s Carmyle after a career in the Archdiocese which saw her serve as Vice Chancellor under the late Cardinal Winning.

Now Sister Margaret has used her passion for poetry to reach out to people during the pandemic, broadcasting her verse from the ironing table of her front room!

Sister Margaret
Sr Margaret with her ironing board

Sister Margaret told Flourish: “I have attended classes in creative writing for a while at Strathclyde University, and I think I caused a few raised eyebrows on one occasion when the tutor asked us one day where we produce our poetry.

“While some members of the class talked about going to their study, I confessed that I wrote at the ironing table. I just find it convenient! I can adjust the height and lay out all my papers there. So it seemed a good idea to deliver the poetry on Facebook from the very ironing table on which it was written!”

Sister Mags, as she is known to her friends, confesses she is surprised at the success of the initiative. She said: “I didn’t realise how much people would get out of the poems. I try to deliver them in a way that brings them alive. Even my closest family and friends have been complimentary.

“My hope is that the poems will touch people, either by cheering them up, or giving them food for thought. They range across a range of themes ands styles. Hopefully something for everyone.”

But while the Franciscan Sister continues to offer an ever-expanding range of verse, she is constantly asked to read again a poem which has become her “party piece” entitled “Last Tango in Dennistoun”.

You can hear all of Sister Margaret’s Pandemic Poems by following her on Facebook – search for Margaret McGrath St Joachim’s.