There is a famous quote from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse” that says: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley…” I had a couple of examples of this last week, that then led me on to the memory of a third. The first plan that went astray was my intended trip to Dublin for meetings last Monday. To be honest, after the Novena, I was just too tired, and there was too much going on. When I thought of what I would have to put in place before getting away, and what I would be coming back to, I just couldn’t summon up the energy. I contacted our Provincial Secretary in Dublin and we agreed that the meeting could be postponed until a later date. I immediately began to feel a bit more relaxed, and less stressed.
That meant that last Monday, having been declared a public holiday and a National Day of Mourning for the death of Queen Elizabeth II, I was able to celebrate the 10 o’clock Mass in St. Mungo’s for the repose of HRH’s soul, using texts that had been sent to all the parishes by the Archdiocesan liturgy office. Afterwards, I decided to watch the funeral service from Westminster Abbey, and it was there that I encountered the second of the best laid plans that had gone astray. You can imagine that every aspect of that service, as well as everything that went before, and everything that came after, was rehearsed, again and again, many times, leaving nothing to chance. It seems that even the music had been chosen a number of years back and had been rehearsed twice a year ever since. However, as the Queen’s coffin was carried into the abbey, on top of which was the Imperial State Crown as well as the Sovereign's Sceptre and the Sovereign's Orb, and as the representatives of the various churches took their places around the high altar, the Archbishop of York picked up his order of service from the chair, and a card fell out of it onto the floor. When the Queen’s coffin was in place, and the camera zoomed in, all I could see was this card on the floor, very visible on screen, and I was imagining the television presenters frantically trying to find a way of having it discreetly removed before the service progressed much further. Some things just can’t be planned for! As it turned out, before Lady Scotland made her way to the lectern to read the first lesson from First Corinthians, the card had disappeared. I thought that Lady Scotland, a patron of Missio, the Catholic Missionary Society, read absolutely beautifully. Indeed, I thought the whole service was beautiful in its simplicity, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also spoke very simply and beautifully, and in a very Christ-centred way. Later, the Archbishop of York led one of the prayers, with not a bother on him.
The memory evoked was from many years back, when I was a Passionist student in Mount Argus in Dublin. I was given the task of being one of the Masters of Ceremony at the Easter Triduum Services. As a group of students, we tried to prepare everything perfectly, leaving nothing to chance. On Holy Thursday night, everything seemed to go to plan. We had reached the point after Holy Communion, where the tabernacle had been left empty and open, and we were having a period of deep silence before the procession to the altar of repose. We had forgotten, however, that one of the Passionist Brothers had been given the task of bringing Holy Communion to the choir up in the choir loft. He took his role as a Eucharistic Minister very seriously, but he could be a bit slow. To be honest, he was taking so long that we had forgotten all about him, until, in the midst of the deep silence, he made his way, very devoutly, and quite oblivious to anything else, up the aisle, and placed his ciborium into the tabernacle. A groan went round the sanctuary, and someone had to discreetly remove the said ciborium before the procession could begin. Some things just can’t be planned for!
Out at Bishopbriggs, we are all well. Father Justinian and myself are scheduled to receive flu jabs and Covid boosters. Father John continues to settle. We still await the great arrival.
As always, protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.