Christmas is Revolting

merry christmas

Well, that was Christmas. I was really looking forward to the Christmas holiday. As someone who has retired I suppose it’s odd to think of this as a holiday since I’m not off to work on other days. What’s so special about Christmas for me to think of it as a holiday? It’s a time to step out of the normal routine, a time for eating and drinking, a time for Santa Clause and children. It’s about giving presents, peace on earth and goodwill to all men.

Christmas is, for many, a time to travel. Some are heading off to the sun for a winter break while many are heading back to family celebrations. How often have we seen Christmas travel disrupted by problems on the railways or by traffic jams. This Christmas we had Gatwick airport closed by a drone scare and tens of thousands of people had their journeys disrupted. I suppose that could be seen as very similar to that first Christmas when Joseph and Mary had to go on a journey with a baby on the way. They had no accommodation and the baby was born in a stable.

Did Christmas work for you? Me neither. I suspect many people feel a bit like I do, glad when it’s over and back to the routine. So how did I get it wrong? For some people Christmas is a time of crisis. There are homeless people and families struggling to stretch their meagre resources to make a Christmas experience for their children. Most of these parents manage to provide for their children, usually by self-sacrifice. Expectations of Christmas have grown, fuelled by the advertising industry. We are persuaded to buy the latest toy for our children, the expensive jewellery or technology for our loved ones and to provide a Christmas banquet for all the family.

The result can be families at breaking point. Marriage guidance services can tell us of the increase in requests for help in the post-Christmas months. The strain on families often proves just too much. So much for peace and good will.

Businesses were sounding the alarm when sales did not soar as they had hoped before Christmas. They relied on a surge in buying to keep their business alive. Christmas is a big commercial festival. Perhaps that is a clue to what’s going wrong with Christmas. I’m now having to rethink my ideas of Christmas.

I’ve been thinking of Christmas as the birthday of Jesus and we are having a birthday celebration. That’s the story for the children. As an adult, should I be looking for a deeper meaning? The birth of Jesus was God coming to join us, but it was not His decision alone. Mary was asked for her consent for Jesus to be born for us. She gave her consent and the world was changed for ever. Now there is a clue there. God is all powerful and could just decide to put his plan into action but He didn’t. Christmas is not something God imposed on us. Mankind had to agree and cooperate in the plan.

That first Christmas was God making good on his promise to send someone who would change the world. He didn’t intend to set up an international public holiday, he was starting a revolution. Most revolutions are marked by a single event that captures the imagination and triggers the revolt. In France the storming of the Bastille marked the start of the French Revolution. In Russia the storming of the Winter Palace was seen as the start of theirs. These were violent events that were more symbolic than effective. The first Christmas was not violent and was probably the most significant in human history.

Like all revolutions ours never really ends. There are always counter revolutions and attempts to reject the new order. Christ’s revolution is still being opposed by the world. Jesus brought a new way of thinking into the world. He rejected hate and replaced it with love. His command is to love your neighbour and see each other as brothers and sisters rather than enemies. You only have to look at a newspaper to see how that is being rejected all over the world. Perhaps then we can understand why Christianity is under attack all over the world. The Christian revolution is attacked with violence in many parts of the world and is attacked by more subtle means here.

Now I’m seeing Christmas Day as the focal point of our revolution. It’s Christian equivalent of “Remember the Alamo” or a commemoration of the storming of the Bastille. The reason we don’t recognise this is that it’s peaceful revolution. This is a revolution that rejects hate and violence and uses the power of love instead. Christmas is our reminder that the revolution goes on.

Now, if I’m a revolutionary how do I carry on my revolt? I can’t go about attacking those who oppose me because that would be against the revolutionary principles I’m promoting. No, I need to go about my revolution by changing myself. I can’t counteract hate and violence by violent means. I’ll have to rid myself of aggressive attitudes and replace them with love. I need to see others as my brothers and sisters, not enemies. If Christmas is about giving then I need to look at what I give.

The Christmas gifts that count are not scented candles and shiny baubles. The gifts that count are gifts of myself. How ready am I to share what I have and, more importantly, what I am. We’re not good at giving away things we no longer need. (My wife is very good at giving away things she thinks I no longer need.) We are even worse at giving away what we do need. We can easily become a captive of our possessions. So powerful is the advertising industry that we are reluctant to give up things we may never have made use of. Hoarding has become a massive problem for some.

More importantly, we are not so good at sharing ourselves. Every one of us has gifts and talents that we can put to good use in helping others. We might be the person who can always get a car started on a frosty morning or can mind a child while the parent is busy. We must put these talents to good use in our revolution. Just as revolutionaries would attack and dominate their opponents we must love and serve our brothers and sisters.

Perhaps you remember the slogan, “A puppy is not just for Christmas.” That was intended to make people realise that dog ownership was a year round thing. Well perhaps we should adopt the slogan “Christmas is not just for Christmas.” Every day should be my day of peace and goodwill to all mankind. Every day is my opportunity to bring love into other people’s lives. Just like a good revolutionary, I can’t sit about waiting for something to happen. I need to make things happen. I need to make Christ’s revolution real and part of everyone’s life.

If I manage this then I won’t need any New Year’s resolutions this year, I’ll have an all year revolution instead.

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How Was Christmas For You? Me Too!

Christmas often fails to match up with the hype. My thoughts are published this weekend in the Scottish Catholic Observer. Get your copy at your local parish.

Have we got the Christmas message right? The full text will be here next week if you don’t manage to get your copy.

Who’s The Teacher

This article was published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday 14th December 2018

The Icon

I had an opportunity to see the new icon of ‘Jesus Our Teacher’ which has been touring round the diocese of Scotland. The icon was designed by Bernadette Reilly and commemorates the passing of the 1918 Education Act which enabled Catholic, Jewish and Episcopal schools to be incorporated into the State System, providing the finance which those religions had been supplying. Catholic and Episcopal schools are still in the system.

The icon, with Jesus as the central figure, tells the story of Catholic education in Scotland and shows the immigrant peoples bringing their faith from places like Poland, Lithuania and Ireland. Like all icons, the closer you look, the more you see. It certainly caused me to think about my own experience of education and the people who influenced me.

My schooling was in Catholic schools and I got the benefit of sound religious teaching as well as a good grounding that stood me in good stead for the future. I taught in secondary schools for twenty five years and spent six years tutoring at Glasgow University. I suppose I’ve seen the education system from both sides. What I remember most is the people rather than the system. I found there were individual teachers who left their mark on me; sometimes just by a casual remark that gave me in insight into a different way of thinking.

In my teaching career I sometimes encountered the debate about whether we were teaching a subject or teaching pupils. The answer is both of course but I found there were teachers who were inspired by their interest in the pupils to go a little further to make their subject interesting.

The icon made me reflect on the idea of Jesus as a teacher. He had no qualifications and never took a class but he taught people, not subjects. That made me think about who are the teachers and the importance of schools. There seems to be a growing body of parents who prefer to home school rather than send their children to school. I think they miss out on the important aspect of schools. That is that they bring children into contact with talented, skilled teachers. Staying at home is a missed opportunity.

Schools are not the only places where learning goes on and it is not only qualified teachers who teach. Parents are the first teachers a child encounters. Their job is vital. If parents fail in their initial formation of the child it will not get the full benefit of schooling. The child learns to talk from the parents talking to it. The child learns the basic skills of living at home. Parents can engender a love of reading by reading stories to the child (even if it is only to get them to sleep.) The child builds up its vocabulary and understanding of language in listening to parents, but it’s more than that.

Children develop attitudes from listening to the parents talk. I’m thinking of my own children. What attitudes did I impart to them? Did I show them how to be good citizens? Did I encourage them to be helpful to others? Did I encourage them to love God? I don’t really know the answers to those questions but it makes me think. Jesus taught with authority in the Synagogue but his real teaching was done in what he did and the stories he told. I wonder if I did enough.

Of course, learning is not something confined to childhood. We continue to learn long after we leave formal education. John Dewey, an American educationalist, regarded learning as a sign of life. If you stop learning, he thought, you are not fully alive. Learning as an adult may take place in formal classes or in training courses at work but that is only a small part of learning. We learn from books and magazines. I learn all sorts of things from reading the Scottish Catholic Observer. I find out what’s happening in the church and I also develop my understanding of my religion from reading some informative contributors. Mostly I learn from people.

I was struck by a reading at Mass the other day.

You must preach the behaviour which goes with healthy doctrine. It is for you to preach the behaviour which goes with healthy doctrine. The older men should be reserved, dignified, moderate, sound in faith and love and constancy. Similarly, the older women should behave as though they were religious, with no scandal-mongering and no habitual wine-drinking..

Titus 2:1-8

I cut this short to leave out the bit about wives should obey their husbands as it might get me into trouble at home. The passage makes clear that we are to be teachers by the way we behave. It’s not a case of do what I say but it’s about teaching by doing. My issue is that I would probably be regarded as an older man and I should be reserved, dignified and moderate. I’ve just been looking after my five year old twin grandsons and none of those adjectives could apply. Nobody would describe hiding in the hall cupboard in a game of hide and seek as dignified.

However I like to think that Jesus would hide in the hall cupboard in my situation. Spending time with children and having fun with them is one way of showing you love them; you don’t need to put it into words. The same thing applies to adults. You might just spend a few minutes listening to someone’s tale of woe but giving them your time shows that you value them. That was the kind of teaching Jesus often did. He spent time with the people who were ostracised from polite society and showed them that they were valued.

What does Jesus expect us to teach? Surely it comes down to the basic commandment; love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself. You can do that with a simple comment or even just a smile. I remember our careers master asking me how I had got on with my application to join the Royal Airforce. I told him I couldn’t fly as I was found to be colour-blind. He said “What’s for you will not go by you”. I was feeling pretty miserable at the time but it made me think and I realised that God had a plan for me and for everyone. I was still disappointed but I had learned an important lesson about our relationship with God.

Sometimes you can pass on an important lesson with a simple comment. You can only do that if you engage with people and you can only succeed when you are being positive. It’s too early for a New Year’s Resolution but I’m going to make the effort from now on to be that positive influence on those I meet. No more wee grumpy guy.

What are you afraid of?

This article was published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday 2nd November 2018.

Are you afraid of the dark? Lots of people need a little nightlight in their bedroom in order to get to sleep. Are you afraid of dogs, birds or even clowns? Yes, fear of clowns; there is a word for it, ‘coulrophobia’. Fear is natural. Fear alerts us to danger and sets the body to deal with the danger. It can prompt the body to produce adrenaline, enhancing the ability to fight or flee. Fear can be a lifesaver.

I’ve always had a fear of snakes. I always thought I’d be able to get away from a snake as snakes slither about fairly slowly. That idea was destroyed one day on a dusty road in the bush when a six foot long snake shot across in front of the truck I was in. I was shocked at how fast it could move. I’m even more afraid of snakes now.

Fear can be used to control others. Fear of strangers can turn people against incomers. If the incomers look different, a different colour or unfamiliar dress they are easy to recognise. Those who use a different language or practice a different religion are often rejected by the indigenous communities. This has been exploited by politicians who play on people’s fear of strangers to whip up support.

Fear doesn’t always help. You hear of people being frozen in fear when finding themselves in a very dangerous situation. Fear sometimes stops us doing what we know we should be doing. Sometimes we are afraid of appearing to be different. We don’t want to stand out from the crowd. Being seen to be different can result in us being left out or even ostracised. We all, naturally, want to belong to the society we live in. Sometimes we accept norms and behaviours that don’t really fit in with our views.

In today’s world it can be difficult to recognise what is a generally accepted view and what is an idea that is made to look like the normal view. Pressure groups use the press, social media and public demonstrations to promote ideas. For example we can promote sexual equality and demand that men and women have equal rights. We can go further and say that equality is the basic human right. Not many will argue with that. Then we can claim that those who are uncertain about their gender should be treated equally. Finally we can claim that everyone has the right to choose their gender.

We might find these arguments confusing but difficult to dispute. They can sound reasonable. Official bodies and political parties accept them; nobody wants to alienate potential voters. The pressure is on us to accept this new norm and conform. Who wants to stand out from the crowd?

Of course we must stand out from the crowd if the crowd is wrong. Now I have no doubt that there are people with genuine gender problems. These may be rooted in their biology, physiology or psychology. The appropriate professionals can bring them the help they need and assist in the decisions they take. That is a far cry from declaring that anyone can choose the gender they wish to have. It’s an idea that is not only misguided but can be dangerous.

A friend of mine was telling me recently about being taken to task by a pupil because he referred to her as a girl. She refused to be regarded as either male or female. Realising he was dealing with a delicate situation he asked her how she wished to be addressed. She replied that she should be referred to as ‘it’. The teenage years can be difficult enough coming to terms with one’s sexuality without confusing the issue.

I’ve heard of parents of new-born babies taking a gender neutral approach to child rearing, allowing the child to choose their gender at some later stage. It seems to me that we are taking away any certainties in our lives for no good reason. It is the result of muddled thinking. Thinking that equality is the basic right was the first mistake; it is not. The basis of any society is truth. Society cannot work effectively if it is not based in absolute truth.

This gender issue is not the only one where ignoring the truth is causing problems. We recently saw an occasion where a government minister was forced to apologise to Parliament for misleading the house (you can’t say lying in the House of Commons) about the results of an investigation into her department. We have an American President who appears on television in the morning saying one thing and later in the evening says the opposite.

In international negotiations we have the British Government signing an agreement and months later telling us that that agreement is no longer valid. Without certainty nobody can trust us. Life becomes impossible without the truth.

Where can we find this certainty? How do we deal with the fear of rejection if we stand out from the crowd? As Christians we must expect to be at odds with the world. We take our lead from Jesus. How did Jesus react to rejection? In John’s gospel we read that Jesus told the people something that disturbed them.

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”

John 6:51

Now many of the people who heard this could not accept it and walked away. Jesus was not put off by this. He made no attempt to bring them back. He didn’t change anything he said to win them over. The truth is the truth and you either accept it or reject it.

If we find ourselves being rejected because we believe in the truth and that does not comply with the accepted norm how do we react? How do we deal with the fear of rejection? Again we look to Jesus as our guide.

Jesus warned his disciples that they would face rejection and even persecution.

“Do not be afraid of them therefore. For everything that is now covered be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

Matthew 10: 26, 28

The message is clear. Don’t be afraid. You can choose to be rejected by the world and be accepted by the God who created everything or give in to the world and face a far greater rejection in the future. We have recently seen Christians in the Middle East willingly give up life itself rather than deny the truth. I’m not suggesting we should seek martyrdom but we must be strong in the Faith and proclaim the message of the Gospel by our behaviour and in how we deal with our fellow man. Or as my mother used to say, ‘Tell the truth and shame the Devil.’

Joseph McGrath

Scandals in the Church

This article was published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday 5th October 2018

Reading the newspapers and watching the news on television recently has become a painful experience for Catholics. Every day seems to bring more stories of child abuse perpetrated by priests, nuns and bishops. Priests have been sentenced; bishops have been accused of covering up abuse and we have looked on, aghast, wondering how this could have happened.

Child abuse has been exposed in other churches as well. Politicians and others in power, staff in children’s homes and youth groups have all stood accused of abuse. That’s bad enough but surely it should not happen in our Church. After all, we are supposed to be the good guys. The world that was brought up on priests played by Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien who turned youngsters away from crime and brought them back to the fold in those old films is shocked to find abuse in the Catholic Church. I’m shocked too.

My idea of the good guys was fashioned in my Saturday afternoon visits to the Greens Cinema with all the other boys in our street. Every week we were treated to cowboy films. We recognised the good guys by their white hats and the bad guys by their black hats. Life was simple then. Sometimes the plot would take a different turn and one of the good guys would fail to live up to expectations, a bad goodie. Then one of the bad guys would do something honourable, a good baddie. That sometimes prompted arguments about whether one character was a good baddie or a bad goodie. It can be hard to tell in real life too.

I was brought up to respect all clergymen, priests, ministers or whatever. We expected these people to be above anything bad. It comes as a shock to find that they might just be bad goodies or even good baddies. What we have failed to recognise is that they are just human beings like the rest of us. Being good does not come with the collar, it is the same struggle we all have, worse because so much more is expected.

The most recent trend has become the finger pointing in the hierarchy. Even Pope Francis has been blamed for not having dealt with these problems, even those that occurred well before he became pope. Now this idea that someone out there should have dealt with this and it must be all their fault doesn’t seem to fit well with what I think the Church is. The Catholic Church is not a large corporation where the board of management decide everything and tell the rest of us what we should do.

The Church is the Body of Christ, alive and working in the world. We are all parts of that body. Just as problems with my foot affect the rest of my body (especially in the mornings) problems with any one of us affect the whole body of the Church. It seems to me that we all bear some responsibility for the health of the Church. The revelations of abuse, while painful, are vital for the health of this body. When I read of the abuse of children in homes run by the Church it reminded me of the violence that was meted out to children in our schools. It is only in recent years that corporal punishment was banned in our school system. Before that it was acceptable to belt pupils for getting an answer wrong. That was the norm in Scotland. The Church’s failure, our failure,

to oppose this attitude is the disgrace. We all accepted this as normal behaviour. Abusing children was OK. This was not a problem with priests and bishops. This was a problem with the whole of society.

How can it be that people who repeatedly heard Christ’s teaching about how to cherish children accepted cruelty? It makes me wonder about the real depth of our belief in the Gospel. Have we been going through life paying lip service to Christ’s teaching while accepting the moral values of the world? Is it any wonder then that young people accept the world’s views on sexuality, abortion and materialism, rejecting the Church’s teaching?

I was brought up with the view that the priests were the spiritual descendants of the apostles. They had to carry on the work of evangelisation in the world. I’m now beginning to realise that this is too simplistic. We are all the spiritual descendants of the apostles and it is our job to bring the Gospel to the world. The priests and bishops have a special role in that as they bring us the sacraments but we are the main bringers of the Gospel. In my daily life I have contact with people who will never meet a priest. Who else will bring Christ into their lives?

Now I hear you saying, “Who are you to bring the Gospel? You are just a sinner like everyone else.” and that’s true. I am a sinner, just like everyone else in the Church is a sinner. That’s the whole point. Christ came to save sinners, us. As an individual I’m not really equipped to go out to the world and convert it to the Gospel. As part of the Body of Christ; as part of a Church strong in faith and committed to convert ourselves into the people God wants us to be, I can have an effect on the world.

Really, these current abuse scandals should make us take a good look at ourselves. Do we just observe the letter of the law or are we imbued with the spirit of the law? Are we obsessed with the minute details of Catholicism and blind to the big view of the ministry we are baptised into? Trotting out to Sunday Mass and sitting there, chatting to our neighbour, while Christ Himself becomes present on the altar seems to be missing the point. Opting for macaroni cheese for dinner on a day of fast and abstinence but ignoring those who have no food is a sign we have lost the plot.

As long as we rely on our own strengths and abilities alone we will fail in our mission of evangelisation. We can only succeed when we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. We can’t put priests and bishops on a pedestal where we see them as possessing supernatural powers. We are all fallible. On our own we fail to match up to the Gospel. We can only succeed when we allow the Spirit to use us. For that to happen to me I must change the way I look at the world.

I must become more aware of my dependence on the Holy Spirit. I must think of the gifts I have been given as tools. I have eyes to let me see. I must look critically at what I see. I have a brain to let me think and I must think about I see and make a judgement on what is right and wrong. I must act on my judgements and use the gift of speech to speak out against what is wrong and speak up for what is right. Our school motto in Columba High School was ‘Speak out for Justice’. If we all do that there will be fewer scandals in the future.

Church Scandals – Who is at fault?

My column is published today in the Scottish Catholic Observer. Who is to blame for the recent scandals? Is it the priests, the bishops or even the Pope? Get your copy this weekend for my take on this. It’s sure to be controversial so make sure you get your copy this weekend. If you miss it you’ll have to wait ’till next weekend to get the full text here.

What Do You Covet? The Last Commandments.

This article was published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday 7th September 2018

This is the last of my articles on the Ten Commandments. I’ve decided to look at the ninth and tenth commandments together because they deal with the same idea, coveting. Coveting is not a word we use so much today so I looked it up. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary it is defined as

“to want to have something very much, especially something that belongs to someone else . ”

That’s fairly straightforward but why is it so important as to require two commandments? Presumably we would want something because it is better than what we have. What is wrong with wanting something better? I think it is a very important part of human nature to want to improve. We are the only species capable of making changes that improve our world.

Take the houses we live in. When I was a wee boy I lived in a tenement building where three homes on each landing shared one toilet. Now I live in a house that has two toilets all to itself. We have a natural desire to want to improve ourselves and we often see that as meaning we need better things.

Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, understood from his uncle’s study of the human mind that we all aspire to better ourselves. He found a way to harness this to persuade people to change their behaviour. At the end of World War I, one hundred years ago, American industry had geared up for war production. Now the war was over they needed people to buy things to replace the demands of the war.

Bernays put his ideas to work and devised a strategy to increase demand for cigarettes. He took up the campaign for emancipation of women and In a parade in New York had women parade smoking cigarettes under the banner of ‘Torches of Freedom’. Women smoking had been frowned upon now this was a campaign to get women to rebel and assert their equality with men. The market for cigarettes virtually doubled. Public relations had come to maturity. We can be persuaded to want something we don’t need.

It seems to me that we all need a positive self-image if we are to be happy. We need to know that we are important, that someone holds us in some regard. The effects of loneliness are corrosive and we can see this in the rise in the suicide rate. We are often persuaded that we can prove our importance by the things we have. For some that means wearing the latest fashion. We discard perfectly good clothes and replace them with something new. For me that usually results in a jacket that I am comfortable in being dumped and a new one purchased because my wife won’t be seen with me in the ‘shabby’ one.

Human relationships suffer the same way. We are constantly shown images of women with ‘perfect’ figures and men with muscular stomachs. We are persuaded that someone else’s wife of husband is better than the one we have and desire to have them. Marriages break up. Families are disrupted. Nobody is really happy.

Money is the other thing we desire because it can put us up there with the elite. Billionaires can display their wealth with multiple mansions, yachts and even personal planes. How we would love to be like them. The Lottery and the Euro Millions take in vast fortunes each week because we think that a big win would sort out all our problems. A couple of months ago someone I know won the Millionaire raffle on the lottery. He won one million pounds. He gave half of it to his son to buy a house and spread the rest over his nieces and nephews. He virtually gave it all away. He is a very happy man because he has solved problems for other people.

I have come across a few millionaires in my career. They all looked miserable. Rarely a smile crossed their faces. Their money never made them happy. On a flight earlier in the year I watched a film, “All the Money in the World” about John Paul Getty who was the world’s richest man. His grandson had been kidnapped and he refused to pay the ransom. It reminded me of an interview Alan Wicker did with him. He was unhappy living in England. He wanted to be in America but was afraid to fly in case the plane crashed and thought that a boat might sink so he had to stay put. He was thoroughly miserable.

How often do these things we covet actually make us unhappy? Surely we should be happier when we have them? But we don’t. How many people have be caught by the Nigerian scam where they get an email from a woman whose husband hid millions in a bank vault and she needs help to get it out. Send her the money to get access to the money and share in the riches. The money is sent and vanishes for ever.

It seems to me that this all brings unhappiness. I think I’ve spotted the reason. We are all striving for happiness. To be happy we must feel that we are respected and loved by others. We look around to find ways of achieving that. Of course we are looking in the wrong place. Popularity is a fleeting thing. You can be a hero today and be forgotten tomorrow. You are still the same person but the world moves on.

To achieve happiness you need to look at who you really are. You are not the sum of your possessions. You are not the person others see. You are unique. Your existence here is not random; you are here for a reason. Kojak’s catch phrase was “Who loves ya baby?” (If you remember that you are as old as me.) It is the key to happiness.

The answer is simply that you are loved by the only one who can really see you as you really are. You are loved by the God who made the universe and everything in it. If the creator of everything that exists loves you despite all the things you don’t like about yourself why would you worry about what anybody else thinks? You don’t need a private plane, a floating gin palace or Miss World on your arm. That’s why the ninth and tenth commandments tell you not to covet anything. Things make you unhappy. George, who gave away the million, is one happy man. You can be too.

What does it take to make you happy?

Have you ever met anyone who always miserable? Nothing seems to satisfy them. They are hard to take. But really we don’t like to admit that we are never completely happy.

We are always searching for that elusive thing that will make us really happy. What could it possibly be?

Read my column in this week’s Scottish Catholic Observer. Get your copy in your local parish. The full text is here next week.