Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie. It was kept in Glasgow earlier this year. Now it’s our turn. On 10 March 1615, St John went to heaven from Glasgow but, 36 years before, he entered the world in Banffshire. So, this coming Saturday 4 July, at Kynoch Park in Keith, the local parish and Aberdeen diocese will host the National Pilgrimage in honour of St John. Please come!
It’s right we should keep this anniversary. We don’t want to revive old quarrels or canonise the past. But we want to be a people who remember. We want to cherish what’s good and true yesterday, today and tomorrow. John Ogilvie was a man of integrity and intelligence, courage and wit; a full and vibrant human being. He was someone who let the person of Christ shape his whole life. He was a willing carrier of Christ’s Cross. He was a shining instance of what his fellow-Jesuit Pope Francis calls us all to be, a ‘missionary disciple’. He believed that the Catholic faith could never harm Scotland, but only heal, enrich and save its people. He died for the principle that the State has no power over someone’s religious conscience. And he maintained to the end that freedom and truth have a rock-like guarantor in the office of the successors of Peter, the Bishops of Rome.
These things go beyond the struggles of his time. They are relevant to our own. And the Church which St John loved, with all her weaknesses and strengths, is still alive. She and we still have Christ’s work to do and life to share. Our celebration at Keith will be a sign of this. It begins at midday. There will be local music. There will be some 30 stalls exhibiting different facets of the Church’s life and the many groups and associations which enrich her. Representatives of government, other churches and the Ogilvie family will attend, and Catholics from throughout Scotland. There will be the possibility of quiet prayer and Confession and veneration of St John at the shrine in the nearby parish church of St Thomas. Finally at 3 pm, there will be the great prayer of the Eucharist led by Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh, other bishops and clergy. ‘It is good to give thanks to the Lord.’ It is good to go into the future with a living memory of the saints. I look forward to seeing you there.
The weather, of course, will be glorious!