Last Thursday we were happy to host in St Mungo’s the first ever Carol Service for SCIAF. It was a lovely occasion. The church looked beautiful, and the programme that had been prepared was nicely varied, both in terms of the music and the performers, and lasted just over an hour. There was a children’s choir, a folk group and two soloists. Almost all of the music was sacred, with just a couple of tastefully chosen secular Christmas songs. We listened to the story of Jesus’ birth, and joined together in a rousing rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen at the end. The previous Thursday night some members of SCIAF had joined Father Gareth and our Passionist Young Team for carol singing outside the John Lewis’ Centre, raising some funds to be divided between both of them, so it seemed appropriate that Father Gareth should give the final blessing at the end of the Carol Service. Naturally, he began by telling everyone he was from Wales and that, despite being from the land of Tom Jones, he couldn’t sing a note. I feared he might go into his whole Welsh repertoire, but no, he gave a brief and lovely reflection on the meaning of Bethlehem (which, from the old Hebrew, means House of Bread), and then blessed all present. Well done Father Gareth – we will ask you back again. Afterwards there was tea, coffee, mulled wine (non-alcoholic) and lots of nice goodies to eat in the hall, while people could purchase SCIAF Christmas presents that would support various SCIAF projects for people in need. It was a very worthwhile night and a good part of our preparation for Christmas.
Having recently taken on the parish of St. Roch’s we are getting ready for quite a hectic weekend over Christmas. With Christmas Day being a Monday, we will celebrate, from Saturday night 23rd December, through Sunday 24th December, and into Monday 25th December, a total of 12 Masses. It will all be beautiful, I’m sure, and a privilege to celebrate the birth of the Saviour in both parishes, but I imagine it will be quite exhausting as well. We have decided, as a Passionist Community, just to have something simple to eat on Christmas evening, when we finally get a chance to catch breath, and then on St Stephen’s Day (when we will celebrate another 3 Masses) we are going out together in the evening for a traditional Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings. Father Gareth will then take some time off to head home to Wales and visit his mum. As always, she will be thrilled to see him, and he will be thrilled to see her. Father John had been thinking of a short tour of Scotland after Christmas, but I think concerns about the weather have caused him to have a change of heart, for now. Father Jus will have family gatherings; I will maintain my usual caring duties, and hopefully touch into the rest of my family as well, especially at our annual Hogmanay gathering in my niece’s house for Scotch Broth, a steak pie dinner that would put Desperate Dan to shame, and a wee dram to toast one another at the bells, in the hope of a blessed 2024 to follow.
There will be no Father Frank’s Log for the next few weeks. I wish you all a very happy and holy Christmas, with every blessing for the coming year. If there is a purpose to Father Frank’s log, it is quite simply this, that, in all the various circumstances of life, the rough and the smooth, the serious and the silly; the happy and the sad; the sublime and the ridiculous; the expected and the unexpected; God is there, God is in all things, and God is present at all times. I have always found that, and, in my own stuttering way, that is what I try to convey in the log, in a light-hearted way. Faith sometimes has to be lived with a smile on its face. Perhaps even more so in difficult times, such as we live in now. Thank you for reading the log, whether that’s weekly on the website, or monthly in the Flourish; and thank you for the affirmation and encouragement I receive. I will look forward to resuming the log very soon as life goes on, and so does God – always and everywhere.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.