I have just celebrated a rather varied and interesting Saint Andrew’s Day. It began on the eve of the feast. During this jubilee year to celebrate 300 years of the Passionist Congregation, which, by the way, the Vatican has extended until next May, our Passionist Province has been gathering by Zoom to pray and chat together on the Vigil of certain feasts. Different Province communities were invited to lead the prayer, depending on the occasion, and so we at Saint Mungo’s, the only community in Scotland, were asked to lead on the eve of Saint Andrew. There was a good turnout, and, as our first gathering since the post-Chapter changes had taken place, it was strange to see members zooming in from their new locations. Father Gareth, of course, was zooming in from Holy Cross, Ardoyne. He was sitting there alongside Father Terence, whom many of you will remember from Saint Mungo’s many years back. Also, Father John Varghese, was zooming in from Holy Cross, still awaiting Home Office approval to come to St. Mungo’s. The prayer and the chat were good, as they always are. A couple of hours later I had to record an Advent reflection for teachers. Father Antony set up the room and the recording and then, once it was over, sent it to the Education Department.
On the Solemnity of Saint Andrew, I celebrated Mass at 10 o’clock and then, after some work in the office, I headed off to Bishopbriggs. My first stop was at Saint Dominic’s as I had been on call for the Royal Infirmary the previous night, and now had to drop off the pager to the parish priest there, who always follows on from us. My next stop was at the dentist, where I was due to have a tooth extraction. This would be my second extraction since Covid began. I seem to have suffered from not being able to have regular check-ups, as it had been many, many years before since I last had an extraction. This time the procedure seemed to be quite straightforward, the previous one having been more complex. After that it was up to my brother’s house to make him a meal, and then back to Saint Mungo’s to prepare for what would turn out to be a very special night.
Since first seeing the show in London, in the early 1990’s, I have been a massive fan of the musical, Les Miserables. Since then, I have acquired the DVD of the 10th anniversary show, and the CD of the 25th anniversary show. I play them often. I think the story, from Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel, the production, and the music, are simply wonderful. The new version of the show came to Glasgow last week and, thanks to the great kindness of a family of regular Saint Mungo’s patrons, Father Antony and myself were presented with two tickets for Saint Andrew’s night. The tickets included some hospitality but, unfortunately, because of my tooth extraction, I was unable to avail of that. But that did not matter one jot. We had great seats in the stalls, about seven rows behind the orchestra pit, and we were dead-centre stage. Described as a production for the 21st century, this show was able to make use of new technology, but it was still essentially the same show that I had seen 30 years ago. It was, without doubt, absolutely fantastic. For Father Antony, it was his first time seeing it, and he was blown away by it as well. Of course, going to and from the theatre we got drenched. The rain was torrential, and, on the journey home, four lanes of the motorway were closed due to flooding. However, we made it back safely, very happy and grateful for a wonderful night.
So, now we continue with our Advent journey. Since last Sunday, Masses in Saint Mungo’s are back to pre-Covid times. However, we still have restricted Confession times, being still totally dependent on volunteers for cleansing and other duties. Thanks, as always to them.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.