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I returned home in the early hours of this morning. I have spent the past five weeks or so visiting all 25 parishes that make up the Catholic Diocese of Argyll and the Isles.
My route took me from Oban, all through the Western Isles, Inner Hebrides, Lochaber, Argyll, Badenoch, right down to the Clydeside Islands and towns. It was an epic and varied journey taking thousands of miles by road and boat. In each parish I celebrated Mass, met with the priest and parishioners, and enjoyed pastoral tasks such as visiting the housebound, hospitals, schools and houses. I certainly put on a few pounds with the Highland hospitality!
My trip was tiring but very uplifting. I frequently marvelled at the beauty of God’s Creation while also humbly submitting to its power of wind and snow! Of course, the crowning glory of Creation is ourselves. Everywhere I went I was very impressed by the lovely people whom I met. Many were no strangers to struggles of various kinds, but I was constantly inspired by people’s generosity of loving service. Likewise, I was encouraged by many people whose deep faith in God shone out. The challenges to faith today are well known but there are still countless people who love and trust God and are quietly and selflessly building the Kingdom of God in our midst.
All of us are a journey through life. God is our destination. At Christmas we celebrate God taking on human nature to redeem us. It is so easy that in our busy lives we miss Christ at Christmas. We have just begun the Season of Advent. Advent is a time to reflect on our need for God and trusting he will come. Let us take the opportunity to prepare the Lord’s Way by opening our hearts to God and others in love.
Bishop Brian McGee
Roman Catholic Diocese of Argyll and the Isles