I unexpectedly found myself on call for hospital chaplaincy duty last Sunday, and I received three very different call-outs in the course of the day. One was to a 60-year-old man who, without prior warning, had suffered a serious stroke. It was a reminder of how a person’s life can suddenly change in the blink of an eye. The second was to a 93-year-old lady who had smashed her hip and was due to go into palliative care. She was delighted to receive the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of the Sick but, every now and again, she would turn her gaze away from me and begin to talk to Jesus as if he were standing right there at the side of her bed. She spoke in such an affectionate way that it was obvious this was the kind of intimate conversation that she had regularly with the Lord. I was reminded of that famous description of prayer as simply looking at Jesus looking at me. The third call was to a maternity ward where twins had been born but, sadly, one of them had died in the womb. It was one of those situations where there is no formal ritual, and you just have to let the prayers come from the heart. I blessed the wee child, still in his cot, who had died; also the wee child who lived, who was resting in her mother’s arms, and was doing quite well; and I blessed the parents, each trying to cope with this tragedy in their own way, and yet trying to support each other as well.
Often, in such situations, when you are just on call, you never find out how things worked out afterwards. It’s like planting and watering a seed and then trusting the Lord to make it grow. This brings to mind that, as I write, today is the feast of Blessed Dominic Barberi who, as a young man, dreamt of planting a seed that would revive the Catholic faith in England. He joined the Passionists and encouraged the Congregation to send missionaries to England. This eventually came to pass in 1842 when Dominic and another Passionist came from Belgium and obtained a house at Aston Hall in Staffordshire. In a very humble way, he planted that seed of faith, and received many converts into the church, including, most famously, the now Saint John Henry Newman. Blessed Dominic became known as the Shepherd of the Second Spring, the Second Spring being the revival of the faith in England. So, Dominic planted and watered the seed, and then God brought the growth, which Dominic never lived to see in full.
I can’t let the Log pass without lamenting the death of Charlie Watts, the legendary drummer of the Rolling Stones, who passed away this week, aged 80. In the early 1960’s, as I entered my teens, I was caught up in the revolution that was taking place in popular music. In the so-called battle between the Beatles and the Stones, while my older brother was very much a Beatles fan, I opted strongly for the Rolling Stones. For some obscure reason and, as always, inclined to be different, our younger brother didn’t like either, and chose the Dave Clark Five as his favourite group. Not only was the Rolling Stones my favourite group, but Charlie Watts was my favourite group member. His fantastic drumming, and his laid back sombre-faced style, fascinated me. I joined the fan club and collected memorabilia, especially on Charlie. I would buy the New Musical Express (NME) and get excited when I read about a new single or a new album coming out, and I would be at the nearest record shop to buy it on the day of release. I would then almost wear it out by playing it over and over again on my Dansette record player. I did this up until 1972, and the album Exile on Main Street, before my interests, and my musical tastes, went in other directions. Like most of us, though, the music I liked in my youth never really left me, and I find myself going back, again and again, to listen to a lot of those early tracks. So, God rest you Charlie, you brought me a lot of joy.
Back at Bishopbriggs, we are all doing okay. Father Justinian is getting used to new carers. Having been elected consultor, Father Antony is heavily involved in the consultation process before appointments are made. Father Gareth seems to be touting for a transfer to Hawaii. Brother Brendan is home on holiday and will join us for a meal this Friday. So, as always,
protect yourselves, protect your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.