Last Sunday morning, at our community house in Bishopbriggs, we switched on our laptops, expecting to watch the inauguration of the Jubilee Year to mark the 300th anniversary of the Passionist Congregation, beginning with the opening of the Holy Door at the beautiful
basilica of Saints John and Paul, adjoining our Passionist Monastery and Mother House in Rome, of the same name. The ceremony was scheduled to start on YouTube at 10.15 a.m. Rome time, and 9.15 a.m. our time, but cometh the hour nothing happened. Around 9.30 a.m. we switched to Facebook and managed to get the procession from the monastery to the church, and the solemn opening of the door, but then gave up on it.
At 10.15 a.m. Father Gareth said that he and Father Antony were going out for a walk along the canal and would I like to join them. Against my better instincts, I said I would. We set out shortly afterwards with Father Gareth leading the way. The weather was very pleasant, but there were some ominous black clouds overhead. Now, you may know, I am around
5 foot 6 inches small, and both of those guys are well over 6 feet tall. This meant that, for every two strides of theirs, I was taking at least three strides. They were also walking at a faster rate than I normally would, so I felt like a wee Scottish highland terrier trotting along behind them, trying to keep up with the pace. Father Gareth, preferring to walk on solid ground, also chose a different, longer route, to get to the canal than I would, leading us by
major roads almost into Torrance. Even then, when we reached the path leading onto the Forth and Clyde Canal, Father Antony suggested that we continue on and take the path along the River Kelvin, as it would be quieter, to which we all agreed. I grew up beside the Kelvin, in Partick, but I had never been this far along its flow. This turned out to be a rather narrow, muddy path, not to Father Gareth’s liking at all. But it was quiet, and it was beautiful, and part of the way along we were delighted to see, arcing in the sky above us, a double rainbow. We stopped and pondered for a few moments, and then the heavens opened. There was little shelter to be had and so we just kept going. Thankfully it was only a shower and it passed over quickly. Eventually, we arrived at a path that would bring us through Cadder Golf Course, the main artery of which would take us back towards the canal, and then home.
Unfortunately, there was a steep and treacherous mud slide to be negotiated to get on to this path. This was even less to Father Gareth’s liking, which I could understand as, being a big man, he could have done himself some serious damage if he went crashing down. With
mumblings of never listening to Father Antony again, he let the two of us go on ahead. With some difficulty Father Antony and I made it safely down. We were afraid to look back, but when we did, there was Father Gareth striding along a totally different part of the golf course, in search of concrete and clay beneath his feet, instead of mud. Eventually, he joined us along the main artery where the greatest danger was from flying golf balls as there were a number of players out enjoying a Sunday morning round. When we crossed over the canal and drew nearer to home, Father Gareth sent us on ahead while he made his way to Poundland in the retail park. I think he needed a remedial dose of Turkish Delights to recover.
Arriving home, I decided to try YouTube again. The broadcast had started around 10.30 a.m. our time, and began at the Gospel of the Mass. I watched it from there to the end, delighted by some stunning shots of the basilica, and especially of the ceiling, as the camera spanned around during Holy Communion. The basilica is built over the house of the early Christian martyrs, John and Paul, but happily, the founder of the Passionists (Paul of the Cross) and his brother (John Baptist), considered by many as the co-founder, were also called John and Paul. So, now the Jubilee has begun, and we are hoping and praying for a blessed year ahead, for ourselves and for all of our Passionist Family, all of you who are connected to us in any way, one in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray with us and for us and, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.