I’ve taken a slightly longer break from the Log than usual this Easter. The main reason for this was that I took the opportunity, last week, to spend a few quiet days in Schoenstatt, the retreat house run by the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary at the foot of the Campsies. It’s a good place for me because the location means that I can still carry out my caring duties for my brother, and not eat too much into my time for rest, recreation and prayer. I felt I really needed the break, as I was running on empty.
After some beautiful weather in the weeks before, the forecast at the beginning of last week didn’t look very promising, but, as it turned out, the weather, certainly for the first few days, was very pleasant and, while there was some drizzle around for the last couple of days, it was so light that I hardly noticed it. I love the walks around Schoenstatt, especially as there are such a variety of them, and mostly they are on the flat, which, sadly, has become a primary consideration now at my age. In days past I would have relished the hill walks but now, the gentle climb up to the waterfall, and a drive up to the car park overlooking Celtic’s training ground, so that I could impart a blessing on the day before the Scottish Cup semi-final, were my limit. However, following the Thomas Muir Trails, the Strathkelvin Railway Path, parts of the John Muir Way, and the walk along the foothills from Milton of Campsie to Lennoxtown, provided plenty of opportunities to stretch my legs and clear my head.
Of course, as is inevitable, while I was sitting in the little shrine chapel one morning, I heard someone coming in behind me and sitting down to say a prayer. The next thing I heard was, “How are you, Father Frank?” It was someone whom I knew well from before, and who is still an occasional attendee at St. Mungo’s. He was out doing his job, making deliveries, and had chosen to use his morning tea break to pop in and say a prayer at Schoenstatt. It was good to see him. Also, it was good to see the local, and recently appointed parish priest, who was in the neighbouring parish to me over 20 years ago when I was in Prestonpans and he was in Tranent. We used to make a day now and again to meet up and have a meal and a chat, by way of mutual support. Then, in 2001, I was transferred to Dublin, and he was transferred to the Borders, and we hadn’t seen each other since. Back then he tried to encourage me to go cycling with him but, after a couple of goes, I had to decide my cycling days were over, and that the task of getting comfortable on a saddle, even though he had kindly provided me with good padded equipment, was just beyond me. There are some areas, it seems, in which I have grown too old, too soon. We’re both celebrating significant anniversaries of priesthood this year, and no doubt we will meet up at some point to share a meal and a catch-up chat.
Apart from that, the post-Easter period has been reasonably quiet. On Easter Monday, Father Gareth drove down to Merthyr Tydfil to spend a bit of time with his mum who, thank God, is keeping well and was delighted to see him. Having recently celebrated the Sacraments of 1st Reconciliation and Confirmation, we are now getting ready to celebrate the Sacrament of 1st Holy Communion next Sunday. It’s unusual to have the 3 Sacraments follow each other so closely, so it has been a relentless time, especially for our Catechists, who have been wonderful. Father Justinian celebrated his 92nd birthday on Holy Saturday which, by coincidence, was the 63rd anniversary of my father’s death. Father Justinian had been able to attend the main services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and people were delighted to see him, and he was delighted to see them. On Easter Sunday evening we went out together, and enjoyed a meal at a restaurant in Lennoxtown recommended by one of Father Justinian’s carers. At the end of this month Father John will take a holiday at home in India with his family, whom I’m sure he will be delighted to see. So, that’s us for now.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.