ONCE A CAPITAL CRIME TO SAY MASS --SCOTLAND HAS BECOME A CATHOLIC NATION
Scotland has become more Roman Catholic than Protestant. Scotland's Roman Catholic congregations now outnumber the Church of Scotland for the first time since records began. This in a Nation that once hunted down priests for the crime of saying the Mass. Although it is certain that God will one day avenge the blood of the martyrs, it is nevertheless nice to see temporal justice.
From Scotland on Sunday: "Figures compiled by the independent group Christian Research reveal that in 2005 the number of Catholics who went to Mass surpassed those who attended Church of Scotland services."
"The change is due to the huge numbers of Catholic Polish immigrants who are boosting church attendance, raising numbers by some 50,000 people since the last time figures were published in 2002."
This calls to mind a wonderful outspoken Scottish martyr of the Reformation, John Ogilvie, who made it his mission to restore the Catholic Faith to Scotland.
He was born into a respected Calvinist family in Keith, Banffshire c. 1579. He was exposed to the religious controversies of his day and became impressed with the faith of the martyrs. He decided to become a Catholic to the great disappointment of his family. In 1596, aged seventeen, he was received into the Church at Louvain, Belgium. He became a Jesuit priest and repeatedly requested assignment back to Scotland.
By this time wholesale massacres of Catholics had taken place in Scotland, but the hunters were now concentrated on priests rather than those who continued to attend Mass. Nevertheless, the Jesuits were determined to minister to the oppressed Catholic laity of Scotland. When captured, they were tortured for information, then hanged, drawn, and quartered.
Ogilvie's request was finally granted, and he returned to Scotland in November 1613. He worked as an underground missionary in Edinburgh and Glasgow, dodging the Queen's priest-hunters, disguised as a soldier named Watson. After 11 months in the field, John was betrayed by an apostate archbishop who pretended to be interested in Ogilvie for the sake of his own soul. The archbishop however did not want to be converted, he instead wanted to capture John Ogilvie red handed. Ogilvie walked into the trap.
Once captured, the archbishop of Glasgow hurried over and, striking him on the face, said to him, "You are an over insolent fellow to say your Masses in a reformed city." (the city being Glasgow). Ever outspoken, Ogilvie replied: "You do not act like a Bishop, but an executioner in striking me" -- a response that presaged his eventual end.
Ogilvie's curt answer to the archbishop ignited the anger of others in the room. As Ogilvie describes the scene, "They shower their blows from all sides upon me, the hair is plucked from my beard, my face is torn with their nails." His attackers then stripped him in search of incriminating possessions. They found a breviary, and a small reliquary. But discovering articles like these did not necessarily prove that he had celebrated mass on Scottish soil--which was a treasonable offense. The discovery, however, together with the issue of the pope's spiritual jurisdiction in religious matters, was the basis of the questioning that began at the episcopal palace the following morning, while he was still "ill ... from the blows of the previous day, with an unusual trembling still upon me."
They pressed him on why he came to Scotland. Ogilvie replied: 'I came to unteach heresy and to save souls'.
Because of Ogilvie's increasing notoriety, King James, himself, sent him five questions to answer because he kept appealing to the crown. These five questions, Ogilvie said are loaded questions and he kept repeating, 'As far as civil obedience goes, the king does not have a more obedient subject in his realms, but in matters of the spirit, King James has no jurisdiction.'
He was imprisoned, treated to the French torture of "the boot," and forcibly kept from sleep for eight days to compel him to reveal the names of other Catholics-which he refused.
Finally, as a last resort, they offered him one of the finest livings, as the expression goes, in Scotland – property, financial security for the rest of his days. But his response was 'No.'
Just prior to his death by hanging, he was asked by a person on the platform whether he was afraid to die, he said: "In so good a cause, I am not more afraid to die than you are of the dishes when you go to supper."
His last words were "If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have". After he was pushed from the ladder, he threw his concealed rosary beads out into the crowd. It is said that one of his enemies caught them and subsequently became a lifelong devout Catholic. After his execution Ogilvie's followers were rounded up and put in jail. They suffered heavy fines, but none was to receive the death penalty.
He died at Glasgow, Scotland, March 10, 1615. He was beatified in 1929--canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1976 (the first Scottish saint since Margaret in 1250).
St John Ogilvie please pray for us to recognize the errors of our day and have the courage to speak the truth to those who embrace them.