It’s difficult to write about anything in these times that doesn’t seem too trivial, when there is a horrendous and unnecessary war still raging in Ukraine. In a recent log, just as the invasion took place, I told you about our small Passionist community in Western Ukraine, 3 Ukrainian nationals and a Polish national, who were getting ready to welcome and shelter refugees from the east. That is now the reality, with refugees in every part of the monastery, some staying only one night and then moving on to the Polish border next day, others staying longer. There have also been families arriving seeking shelter for the women and children, while the men, after making their Confession and receiving Holy Communion, go off to fight and defend their country. The 3 Ukrainian nationals in the community are on standby and could be called up to fight at any time. This is just a snapshot of a much bigger, and more terrible picture, but still and all we keep them constantly in our prayers, and continue to heed their request to pray for the cessation of hostilities, and for lasting peace in a region so badly affected by many decades of wars and occupation. At present, they have about two-weeks-worth of supplies.
I’m running a one-man show this week with Father Antony at meetings in Dublin, and Father John still to complete the necessary protocols to begin his ministry in St. Mungo’s. It was all the more frustrating, then, that I used up almost two hours of my time yesterday that I will never get back again, trying to arrange a direct debit with our energy suppliers for the house in Bishopbriggs, as advised, to try and save something on the huge price increases that are coming our way. Firstly, I tried to do it online. However, every time I entered our account number and postcode, I got a message saying that one or other was wrong, which of course they weren’t. After six attempts I decide to phone. Naturally I was put on hold with horrible music, and a voice every now and again telling me my call was important to them, and that they would be with me as soon as possible, while at the same time recommending that I could do it online – but sorry, I’ve tried that. I put the call on speaker phone and then tried to go into the chat facility on the help line. Before chatting, they wanted to locate my account and so wanted my response to some questions, the first being my full name. I felt I could answer that one easily enough, but then the chat facility wouldn’t allow me to enter it. After various failed attempts I abandoned that course of action too. At this stage my phone was still on speaker and it had now been over half an hour since I called. I was still listening to the same horrible music and the same voice telling me how important my call was. My last hopeful line of attack was to send an email, which is what I then did. It took three hours for the usual automated response to come back telling me that they would try to reply within 5 days, but that it might take longer, and advising me to use the online facility – sorry, been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, as they say. Now, 45 minutes after I first phoned, I abandoned all hope of getting an answer there too, and so I hung up. In the context of what is happening in our world, this might seem a triviality, but I know that for many people these rising costs are a major cause of anxiety, and so, every little bit saved on the bill would be a help. If only it were simpler to do, and I still have to try and do it for my housebound brother – help!
For now, out at the Passionist house in Bishopbriggs, Father John has been keeping Father Justinian company. They celebrate Mass together, have a light lunch together, numerous chats, and have even enjoyed a trip to Troon for a meal with Father Justinian’s family. Last Friday we had our regular Indian takeaway but Father John was not all that impressed, and is threatening to make as a meal that will be properly hot. We are looking forward to it, I think.
So, as ever, protect yourselves, your loved ones, and others, and protect Christ in your lives