What’s Happening in the Catholic Church? – My September Column.

This article was published in te Scottish Catholic Observer on 22nd September 2017.

So what’s happening in the Church?

I was recently asked by the editor of this esteemed paper, “What’s happening in the Church, Joe?”

My immediate response was, “I don’t know.” Well, I don’t have any contacts in the Vatican and the Archbishop has never called me up to explain what’s on the agenda. So how would I know what’s happening in the Church?

On further reflection I wondered just what the question really meant. What’s meant by ‘the Church’ and where is it all happening? Reading the Catholic press and social media I hear of calls to return to our old ways. Latin in the Mass, the priest facing east and losing the Vatican II stuff, it all seems to be in the air. Young people are flocking to the traditional rite. There are calls for us to go back to the Mass as it was before Vatican II.

To be honest I’ve just been dismissing all this as the older generation refusing to move on. I can still remember debating the use of Latin in the Mass with my grandfather back in the early sixties before Vatican II. My grandfather argues that Latin was the language of the Universal Church and the Mass was exactly the same all over the world. We could go to mass in the farthest corner of the world and it would be exactly as it was at home. I argued that we could go to Mass anywhere in the world and not understand what was being said; just like at home.

The problem is I’m now the one who is old and it seems the call for change is coming from the young. Confronted with this revelation (am I really an oldie? – Yes you are.) I’m forced to revisit the old arguments and see if I think we need to change. I grew up with the traditional rite. I well remember the solemn dignity of the Latin Mass; the silences when the priest, facing away from us, recited the Latin prayers and we looked on in awe. We didn’t all sit in awe. I also remember the wee ladies who sat and recited the rosary all the way through Mass. That did strike me as strange.

It has to be said that the Mass is the Eucharist and it is Christ’s sacrifice which is at its core. The language we use does not change that. So what’s the big deal? Have we lost some of the dignity of the Mass in the modern rite? Are we not showing the respect that the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist deserves?

A few years ago I was at Mass in the traditional rite. To be honest I felt that I had lost something that day. I had lost involvement. I was a spectator in a rite that was being conducted by the priest with his back to me, quietly going through the words of the mass in a language I don’t understand even if I could have heard what he was saying. There was great dignity and we knelt at the altar rails to receive the Eucharist but I felt excluded.

I have also heard people of my own age complaining that the Mass is too busy and we don’t get time to kneel and pray in that important time after communion  with Christ within us. That is surely a serious complaint?

That brought me to the core of the matter, prayer. Why do we go to Mass? Many a lapsed friend has pointed out to me that they can just as easily say their prayers at home. Is there more to it than that? It seems to me that we have misunderstood the nature of prayer. Is prayer all about telling God what we need and giving Him the praise He needs? That can’t be right. God knows our needs better than we do. Who are we, with our very shaky understanding of what God is, to reassure Him with our praise? No, when Jesus taught the apostles to pray the Our Father He was teaching a prayer that reminds us of God’s greatness and tells us what we can expect from God. When we say “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” are we implying that God would lead us into temptation if we didn’t ask Him? I think we are being reminded that God is leading us out of temptation and has delivered us from evil by His sacrifice on the cross.

We come to Mass as a body, not as individuals making our own contact with God. The Mass is reinforcing the message of who we are. We are all parts of the Mystical Body of Christ. That is reaffirmed in our communion when we are united with Christ, and logically with each other through Christ. We are not kneeling down here with God somewhere up there. Christ rose from the dead and the living Christ is with us and we are part of Him.

My vivid memory of my visit to India is of an old man in a loincloth greeting me, hands joined and bowing. The explanation I was given was that he was paying homage to the deity within me. That seems to be something we have not fully grasped in the West. We were always taught that we are temples of the Holy Spirit but it didn’t seem to sink in with me. If the Holy Spirit is within you how can I behave towards you with anything other than love?

In our modern rite we have the ‘Sign of Peace’ where we greet our neighbours. It can seem like an incongruous break in the formality of the Mass. In reality it is an opportunity for us to formally recognise that deity within our neighbour as we greet the God within them. It is a formal recognition that we are one body. When we are commanded to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ you are not being told to treat others as you would wish to be treated. You are being told that your neighbour is part of yourself. We are all one body.

I’d like to make one last comparison between old and new rites. I remember Canon Rooney standing on the pulpit giving the children a translation and explanation of what was going on in the Mass. The priest would face the congregation and say “Ite missa est.” The Canon would translate as “Go the Mass is ended”.

However that’s not what the priest said at all. A better translation would be “Go on your mission”. Today we are told to “Go and love and serve the Lord.” That’s a bit more accurate. The Mass isn’t ended. Mass is going on somewhere across the globe as you read this. Leaving the Church is not the end of the Mass it is the beginning. We go out on our mission to spread the Gospel in our everyday lives, recognising Christ in our neighbours be they locals or refugees on the other side of the world.

The Mass is the Mass in whatever language you celebrate it. I’m happy to go with the vernacular when I have a better chance of deepening my understanding. I’m for facing east to await the coming of Christ because He is all around me.


My August Column – Full Text – What Are You Then?

This article was published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday 25th August 2017

In my first job on leaving school I found myself manning an exhibit at a trade fair in East Kilbride. I was demonstrating a new, high tech measuring system based on fluidics rather than electronics. I stood there day after day answering questions about the technology, the advantages and possible applications. I was ready for any question that is until that lady came along.

She was a politician, a Member of Parliament and she stumped me with her first question. I was busy explaining the intricacies of our world changing (but now long forgotten) device when she stopped me and asked “What are you?”

I mumbled something about being a civil servant but the damage was done. I realised that I couldn’t really answer the question to my own satisfaction. How do we define what we are? Perhaps we can be defined by wealth.

In today’s world we see directors and chief executive officers getting enormous salaries and bonuses on top. Even the most spendthrift wife could never manage to spend it all. They really just need the money as a mark of their status. The company needs to pay the money to keep up with or even surpass the competition. It’s about defining what they are. Football clubs are willing to pay millions of pounds to buy star players. Why not train up some young players who might prove to be just as good? Buying the most expensive player is a mark of their status in the football world.

The player gets paid more in a week than some earn in lifetime of work. Does he need it? Does he know what to do with it? Often the answer is no. The money gives him status. It marks him out from the run of the mill players. It tells us that he is a superstar.

Social status is another way of defining what we are. Being the monarch clearly defines what you are. Similarly, having a title tells people that you are a cut above the rest. In a stratified society like ours your position in the hierarchy tells those below you that their respect is demanded. Having said that I must confess that I once worked with a colleague who was a belted earl and you could not meet a friendlier, more generous person. However, he was not just a colleague – he was a sir.

Climbing the social ladder is never easy. Your choice of parents will set your starting point. If you apply yourself you might rise up the scale while carelessness could see you in a rapid descent. Possessions provide an easier route to the top. Driving the right car can be a social marker that many can attain. What car do you drive? Does it turn heads as you glide into the car park at Gleneagles; the location is important too, although I once saw a Daimler parked at Lidl. Lidl could be seen as a marker of my social standing I suppose.

If your possessions or your job can help define what you are then you have a measure of control over what you are. You can choose what you want to be. As a boy I wanted to be a pilot and if the RAF had not found me to be colour blind, that’s what I might have been. So if we can choose what we are how do we decide? What should I aim to be?

We can take advice from other people. People with more experience of the world can often point us in the direction of things we never knew existed. My grandfather’s ambition for me was to be a draughtsman. He saw me sitting at a drawing board in an office far above the factory floor drawing plans for the things the workforce would have to manufacture. In his view I would be ‘somebody’. Not seeing things from his perspective I ignored his advice.

Doing some careers guidance in school I was always at pains to advise pupils not to decide on what they were to be. How was I supposed to know what was the best thing for every pupil? My advice was to choose subjects that gave them the widest options later on. Lets’ face it, most people end up doing something completely different from what they thought they would be.

If we are looking for advice we should really look to someone who knows. As Christians we often turn to God when faced with a difficult choice. So what vision does God have for us? What does he want us to be? In my old ‘penny catechism’ the answer to “Why did God make us?” is “To know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world.”

There you have it. God wants me to be a servant. In terms of status that seems pretty low. There are many kinds of servants. I could be a waiter in a restaurant, a steward on the flight taking you to Lanzarote or the man who empties your bins. If everyone was a servant who would we serve? Who would do the high status jobs?

That was puzzling me ‘till half way through writing this article I had a heart attack. My wife whisked me off to Monklands Hospital where I found myself in real pain. The team sprang into action. If you ever watched motor racing on TV you will have seen the cars coming into the pits. A team scrambles round and everyone does their bit to get the car fuelled, tyres changed and back in the race in seconds. That was nothing compared to the team of doctors and nurses who swarmed round me and put me firmly in the land of the living.

There were doctors and specialist nurses, all high status and all of them servants. Being a servant is about doing what God sent us here to do. You could be the CEO of a large multinational and be a servant if you are looking after the interests of all of those in your charge – not just the balance sheets.

Now I don’t think God caused my heart attack so that I could get the answer to my question but I think I can see more clearly that if I am to be anything of importance I must be a servant. If I’m only concerned with earning millions or having worldwide fame I’m surely fairly worthless. I can’t think of any ‘A’ list celebrity who has an impact on my life. On the other hand if there were no doctors, nurses, bin men, bakers (the list goes on) life would become impossible.

Now I need to explore how I can become a servant, someone who plays a part in bringing about God’s kingdom on Earth for the benefit of my fellow man. I should be able to do that no matter what my status in life. If I’m an ‘A’ list celebrity I can use my position for the good of others. If I’m just a grumpy wee bald guy I can still look to the needs of those around me and make an effort to give them priority.

In finishing I’d like to thank the staff at Monklands and Hairmyres hospitals without whom this article would have been left half finished.

Saints? My July Column – Full Text

Do you have a favourite saint? Some are very popular. In our parish, Saint Patrick’s, the patron saint of Ireland is very popular. He is seen as encompassing everything that is Irish and his feast day is a cause for celebration for almost the whole month of March. Irish folk the world over take him very seriously. Saint Andrew, our Scottish patron, does not attract the same devotion. I wonder why? Is it because the Catholic population of Scotland leans heavily on the Irish immigration of the last two hundred years and saints are a very Catholic thing?

Saint Anthony is another great favourite and he even has his own collection box in our parish, money for the poor usually as a result of his helping us find lost items. I can confide that he makes a good income from our household, usually concerning lost earrings or keys. He is another saint with worldwide following. Many years ago I visited his tomb in Padua. The tomb is plastered with photographs of those who have benefited from his intercession and notes of thanks.

Patron saints are puzzling. Ireland has chosen Saint Patrick who was not Irish rather than some other, Irish saint. Scotland has Saint Andrew, not Scottish and never came her in his lifetime. England has Saint George of dragon fame who never had anything to do with England. Countries in the Americas tend to have Our Blessed Mother in one or other of her appearances as a patron. Our Lady of Guadeloupe is particularly popular in Latin American places. I imagine that countries adopt a patron as a guardian. I wouldn’t be surprised if the patrons resigned in protest at the behaviour of some of the countries. I suppose we will never know.

It is in the Catholic tradition to adopt a saint’s name as our Christian name. We also adopt a saint’s name at confirmation. This seems like a wise move. Choosing an influential saint as a personal patron can have beneficial effects. Having Saint Joseph as my saint makes me feel that I have an influential intercessor working on my behalf. I have been reliably informed by some in the missions that when in a difficult situation they have prayed to Saint Joseph and their problem has been quickly resolved. Of course you don’t need to be named Joseph to get his powerful help but I still harbour a hope that it counts for something.

This brings me to the question, who are the saints? There are saints the Church has formally recognised by canonisation, some from long ago we are not too sure of (Saint Christopher for example) and there are people we know who lived very good lives and we have no doubt they are in Heaven. In the early church Christians were often referred to as the saints. Since we have adopted Christ’s teaching and follow his commands we expect to get into Heaven too. Relying on God’s infinite mercy, we can rightfully think of ourselves as the saints.

To be canonised and formally declared a saint we have to meet conditions laid down by the Church. We could be martyred for our faith and I’m sure there are many who have been murdered by extremists in the Middle East recently who qualify on those grounds. Alternatively you could live a life of ‘heroic’ virtue demonstrating Christian virtues. Both of these categories depend largely on documentary evidence and proof of miracles. The lack of documentary evidence is the main reason why some older saints are now thought to be doubtful.

There is also a process whereby the Pope can declare a person to be a saint, bypassing the usual procedures because he is sure they are in heaven as a result of a very holy life. Two recent examples of this are when Pope Benedict declared Hildegard of Bingen a saint, as did Pope Francis with Peter Faber.

The Holy Father has just introduced a third category for canonisation. This category is for those who heroically give up their lives for others through Christian charity. They must freely give their life to save others. There must be the practice of Christian charity to the point of death and there must be signs of sanctity after death and the need for a miracle as a result of their intercession. One example of such a case is that of Fr. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar and New York Fire Department chaplain who rushed to the scene of the twin towers following the 9/11 attacks, and was the first recorded death that day.

The thing I find curious about the saints is the things we ask them to intercede for us about. Take Saint Anthony of Padua. As I mentioned earlier we are often praying to him for help in finding lost items. In his life Saint Anthony was known as a great preacher, spreading the word of God. There is no mention of him finding things. Now I wouldn’t want to put anyone off asking his help in finding things as I continue to do that myself. However, it does distract us from what he did in his life. He was a great preacher and surely that is his great example to us.

Saint Patrick was a great missionary, bringing the Faith to the pagans of Ireland. He was not renowned as a carouser as we might expect from the Saint Patrick ’s Day celebrations. His love for Ireland was a love for the people whose souls he set out to save. As a final example I can tell you about my wife’s prayers to Saint Rita. Whenever we arrive at a car park that is obviously full she has a quick word to Saint Rita and within a couple of minutes we find a space.

Last year we visited Saint Rita’s shrine where we learned about her work with the dying. We saw the little chapel at the top of the hill in a place where she went to pray. There was no mention of cars or parking in her life although there was a large car park with plenty of spaces.

It seems to me that praying to the saints to intercede for us when we have a problem is a good thing. However I think we should find out more about the lives they lived and the works they accomplished to really understand why they are saints. Their lives should be an example to us that we can use to make our own lives more pleasing to God. Finding out more about them will take us beyond the wee plaster statues with beatific faces and help us to see people who lived in our world; faced difficulties just like us and managed to make their way to Heaven.

They can put our difficulties and concerns into perspective and show us how to live a holy life in the real world. We should not be waiting until we get to Heaven to start a saintly life. It might be too late then. We are the saints and we are challenged to make our normal lives saintly. Just like the real saints, not the plaster statues, we can follow Christ’s teaching as our guide to daily life.

I’ve just realised that means I’ll have to stop being grumpy around the house. This is not going to be easy.

My June Column – Who’s Standing on Your Shoulder?

The recent General Election produced some surprising results. The government hoped for a large increase in its majority but expectations were not met and the majority was lost. How could this happen? What caused the voters to cast their votes in the way they did?

I was one of those who reasoned that I should cast my vote for one party but decided in the end to stick with my normal voting pattern. What influenced me to make that decision? I would like to think that I thought it through and came to a logical decision but I suspect that my eventual vote was the result of emotion. I wasn’t able to desert the party I had always supported.

This has made me think about what influences our behaviour. Whether we are truly logical beings or respond to our feelings we experience influences from everything around us. I started to think about the possible influences on my behaviour. Which of the many influences is steering my thoughts?

An obvious influence on me is my family and upbringing. As a child I absorbed values and opinions from parents and relatives. These must be imprinted on my brain, even if I have moved on, determined to think for myself. That’s not to say that I’ve been programmed to copy my parent’s behaviour. Perhaps I’ve been moved to rebel against their views and act in a completely different way. Whether I’m moved to copy or oppose their thinking I’m still influenced, one way or the other.

Television has been accused of being a bad influence on children. Other commentators would disagree and point out how our views on third world poverty have been influenced by images of starving children broadcast on our screens. I think there is little doubt that television is an influence on our attitudes. It has been suggested that because the television set is in our home we are more susceptible to its influence that we would be to an outside source. Television is accepted as a trusted family member.

I don’t know how much I’m influenced by television since I find so much of it unwatchable but I’m sure there are subtle influences in the things I do watch. Recognising the influences and thinking about the attitudes they convey is a first step to maintaining some truly independent thought. Radio might be a more insidious influence. It tends to be on in the background while driving or working in the kitchen.

I’m not sure how much we are influenced by music on the radio. Some have described rock and roll as the music of the Devil and blamed the rebellious behaviour of teenagers on its influence. That may or not be true but I don’t find it a problem on Classic FM. Talk radio is a different beast. Opinions are filtered out to us – sometimes dressed up as news. Experts can make reasonable sounding cases for all sorts of nonsense but we may be more likely to accept it if we hear it on radio than if we hear it in the pub.

Celebrities seem to be the great purveyors of opinion today. So important are they that charities and political parties often use them to put over their message. Why should celebrities be influential? This has always been a puzzle to me. Apparently celebrities should be listened to because they are famous. Some are actors or people in the media. Because they are in the public eye their opinions are valued. Some celebrities seem to be famous for being famous. They don’t seem to actually do anything. That’s something I just fail to understand.

Newspapers and books are thought to be influential. The recent election results seem to contradict the idea of newspapers being crucial to election success. Perhaps they have overdone it. Surely you can get to a point where the public can recognise nonsense when the lies are so blatant? Newspapers are transient. We read them today and they go in the recycling bin (did you notice my green credentials there?). Books, on the other hand, hang around. I was once asked what book had influenced me most. I found that one very difficult to answer. I think everything you read has an influence on you, even the back of the cornflake packet.

Having given that question more thought I would have come to the conclusion that the Bible must be the book that has influenced, not just me, but the western world. You might never have opened a Bible but still have experienced the influence of its contents. Over the centuries the teaching contained in that book has produced societies that increasingly hold ordinary people to be valuable. Much of western law is Bible based although recent developments in abortion and euthanasia seem to have moved against that trend.

Every time we go to Mass we hear the word of God proclaimed in the Bible. The great religious feasts of Christmas and Easter that mark out our year are straight from the Bible. How many blockbuster films can you remember that are straight off the pages of the Bible? The great promise of the Bible that the chosen one will come as our saviour has permeated through literature and still forms the basis of Hollywood’s output.

Think of the great movie heroes, Superman, James Bond, John McClean in Diehard. Each is the one person come to save us. Superman is sent by his father to Earth. He, the son, has supernatural powers and uses them to save mankind. The heroes all suffer for us. James bond even dies and comes back again in ‘You Only Live Twice’. They all come to us from somewhere else. The theme of the lone hero who comes, suffers and eventually overcomes to save us permeates much of literature.

Even those who have never heard of Jesus look to a hero to lead and rescue us. Even in politics we look to a leader to be our hero and save us. Has Jeremy Corbyn come from nowhere, suffered and eventually overcome? Alas I feel that searching for our hero in politics is bound to lead to disappointment. I must own up to one of my film influences. Tom and Jerry cartoons always carry a moral message. How often have I seen Tom in a moral dilemma with a tiny angel on one shoulder and a tiny devil on the other? Each whispers advice to Tom. Tom, to the Devil’s delight, always flicks off the angel and goes the way of the other fellow.

Do I experience the influence of these spiritual advisors in my life? Is there an angel, a guardian angel whispering in my ear at times of moral doubt? Is there a devil whispering in my other ear; not urging me to be bad but helping me to see the wrong thing as somehow good? How good am I at rejecting this influence? Was it Oscar Wilde who said “I can resist anything but temptation”?

I need to face up to the fact that I am not totally in control of my thoughts and opinions. I am bombarded daily by influences I am not aware of. If I want to live as a Christian, following Christ’s teaching then I must be open to the whispering of that wee guardian angel on my shoulder and see the other fellow for what he is.

My May Column – Full Text

On a Journey

When you read this I’ll have just returned from a trip to British Columbia. My wife and I have been visiting our son and his family. We were looking forward to seeing our two grandchildren in Canada (the parents as well but really the children.) We were not looking forward to the long flights. When you are on a journey for the first time it is interesting but after the first few times you just want to get there.

What makes a journey interesting is the people you meet. I don’t like beach holidays because I’m easily bored. Lying in the sun drives me mad. I prefer to be walking around in a new place, seeing strange buildings and hearing unfamiliar accents that make you strain to make out what they are saying.

When you travel by train or boat you have the opportunity to get up and move about. You can meet your fellow passengers and chat about where they are from and where they are off to. Some people have very interesting stories about their own background, the jobs they do and the reasons for their journey.

The buildings on Vancouver Island are mostly made of wood and low rise. That gives the places a different feel from Scotland. Even Saint Elizabeth’s church along the road could be mistaken for a shop from the outside. Inside, the altar clearly defines this as a church. There are no pews but comfortable chairs fill the space. The Mass is just the same as in Scotland but the lay parishioners play a much bigger role. Lay people welcome visitors, make announcements and invite everyone to stop at a makeshift cafe at the back of the church.

Seeing how other parishes use the space prompted me to think about how we can make our parishes more inviting. At Mass we were welcomed as Scottish visitors. The next day we met a Canadian couple who recognised us from the church. In conversation we discovered the wife was from Edinburgh. We knew where she was from and she knew where we are from. A link is made and stories are shared. Our day is somehow brightened and our experience is deepened.

Going away from home takes you away from your normal routine. You don’t have the normal chores to distract you. You don’t have all your things around you and you do have plenty of time to think. I find myself thinking about the new experiences​ I’ve had on my trip and making comparisons  with my normal life and the assumptions I make.

This is dangerous territory. Life is comfortable with my assumptions. I don’t have to think everything through and justify what I’m doing. Now I’m meeting other people who have different assumptions and may see things from a different perspective than mine. Sometimes I find that my assumptions are less than perfect and I can learn from others.

In the Mass the other day we heard the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were depressed because Jesus had been put to death and suddenly they were leaderless. They assumed that was the end. They assumed that Jesus had been stopped in his tracks and it was all over. That was a sensible assumption. They were so convinced by this assumption that they did not recognise Jesus when he joined them on the road.

Jesus gave them a different perspective and helped them to realise that they were wrong in their assumptions. They had thought that death was the end of our lives but now realised that life goes on in a way we do not understand. The risen Christ they encountered was not immediately recognised because he was somehow different. Our life after death will be similarly different.

I always thought it was a bit strange that those disciples could not recognise Jesus. They were not just passing on the road but walking along with Him. Now if I had been on that road surely I would have recognised Jesus? Perhaps not right away but when he spoke to me I would know who he was. Then again I wonder if I would really recognise Jesus when he spoke to me? Perhaps those disciples could not recognise Jesus because they assumed that he was gone for ever. Would I assume that I might meet Jesus on my journey? It never occurs to me that Jesus might meet me today.

Just like those disciples I assume that he has gone to Heaven and I will not be meeting him any time soon. That shows just how well I listened to what Jesus said. He promised to be with us for all time. I really should be expecting to meet Jesus on my way. Maybe I have and didn’t recognise him.

I think back to yesterday. Did I meet anyone who might have been Jesus? There was the bus driver, the girl in the coffee shop, the book shop assistant. Could any of them be Jesus? Perhaps he was one of the beggars on the street? If so, which one was he? I suppose he was the one I gave some change to. He did say ‘Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me.’

Now I’m thinking that if we can encounter Jesus in the people we meet I must change how I go about my day. I can’t wander around as if I’m among strangers but realise that Jesus is there to meet me in the people I encounter. More importantly, they will encounter Jesus in those they meet.

If they meet me do they find Jesus there? I think back to the people I met yesterday. Did the bus driver see anything in me that could have been an encounter with Jesus? Was there a smile, something in the way I thanked him or anything that could have, in a small way added to his day? In other words do I assume that I have nothing to contribute to those I meet or am I aware that as a Christian I must be Jesus to those I meet? Not just in the sign of peace at Mass but I must bring a sign of peace to everyone always.

Just think. Can you imagine how it would be if we met Jesus in everyone we encountered? How different the world would be if all our meetings were positive, life enhancing experiences. Just think how you and I could change the world if we really took Jesus’s teachings to heart. We just need to dump the assumption that we are only one, powerless person who can’t make a difference. We need to realise that we are all parts of the ‘body of Christ’ and together we have the task of bringing about the Kingdom here on Earth.

We are all, in a small way, Jesus. When you look in the mirror tomorrow morning just say ‘Good morning Jesus’ how are you going to change the world today?

Who Do You Think You Are? – My May Column

Who do you think you are? Are you the person you used to be? Do you recognise the person staring back at you in the mirror or have you never noticed the changes?

I’ve taken a look at myself this month to try to work out whether i’ve improved with age or just aged. You can read my thoughts in this weeks’ Scottish Catholic Observer. Get your copy this weekend but remember that the full text will be here next week (It’s not the same without the pictures though).