The big news this week is that the Child of Prague has arrived safely in Merthyr Tydfil and that Father Gareth and his mum, who is still isolating, are already enjoying the benefits and experiencing many blessings. During the week I was talking to a parishioner who had come into get some Mass Cards. As we stood outside in the blazing sun, safely distanced, she was telling me the story of how, some years ago, she had been given a statue of the Child of Prague by her aunt. One day she let it fall and the infant’s head came off. Mending the statue was put on the long finger until just a few weeks ago, when she got some super glue and put it together again. The very next day she read my log from that week, saying that in Ireland it was considered a good luck omen if the Child of Prague’s head fell off. So, now she has to find a way of dropping it again, and hope that the super glue wasn’t too strong. Father Gareth told me that he was out walking the Taff Trail last Tuesday when suddenly someone wearing a Celtic top zoomed past him on a bicycle and, as they passed him by, they shouted “Hail, Hail Father Gareth”. He assures me that this is true and that he nearly fell in the river with shock.
A few mornings ago, a package came through the letter box. At first, we thought it might be a book that Father Antony was expecting, being a man of many books, but the package didn’t have his name on it. It was addressed simply to the Passionist Community in Bishopbriggs. When I opened it up, the first thing I saw was a global mapping star chart. Then I found a certificate referring to a star in the constellation, Canes Venatici, which I have since discovered lies in the northern hemisphere, and that the translation of the Latin name means Hunting Dogs, representing the hunting dogs of Boötes the Herdsman. It seems that this star is now called Larry, 25 May 2020, in honour of Fr. Lawrence Byrne CP. There was even a little silver star that came with it. The date of 25 May, being the date of Celtic’s European Cup victory in Lisbon in 1967, suggests to us that our dear Father Lawrence ordered this himself before he died, no doubt with a twinkle in his eye, knowing that it would give us a smile when it dropped through our door from beyond the grave. Or perhaps someone out there ordered it for him, if so, please let us know. Meantime, if any of you look up at the sky on a starry, starry night, and you can pick out a constellation that looks like a hunting dog. watch out for Larry and give him a wave.
By the time you read this I imagine that Father Justinian will be out of hospital and home to us in Bishopbriggs. He has been in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary for just over a week, getting lots of tests and receiving treatment. They found a couple of things of concern, which is only to be expected in his 90th year, but they reckon he will be home soon, and with us for a good while yet. I’m not so sure he wants to come home as there were a couple of nurses with St. Mungo’s connections whom he has been charming with his patter; they have spoiled him rotten, and he has been lapping it up. But the word at present is that, all going well, we can collect him and bring him back on Friday evening.
Father Antony had a strange experience on one of his nightly walks. He started to hear music and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from; he followed the sound to one place and then to another, but was confounded each time. Still determined to locate the source of this music, he followed the sound to Bishopbriggs Cross, but then suddenly the music stopped and he was left bemused and bewildered. He came home in a daze and told the story as if it were an episode of the X-Files, or to those of us of an older vintage, the Twilight Zone. Personally, I think that he got a bit too much of the sun on one of those long runs he has been doing in the afternoons, in 26C degrees of scorching heat, that can’t be good for the mind, surely. Still and all, he has a very good tan.
As for me, my routine is as usual, moving between the house, the church and my brother’s home, who, thankfully, has had a fairly settled week. There was a bit of variety in that I had to participate in a Zoom Conference with our Provincial, Father Jim Sweeney, and the Provincial Council members. We Passionists of Scotland and Ireland were due to have our Provincial Chapter this month, which naturally was cancelled due to Covid-19. The hope is that we can hold it next October, but even that is a big if at this present time, in terms of people being able to travel, and how to hold a Chapter and maintain social distancing, if that is still in play come October. So, we were just discussing the implications of this and how best to move forward with the planning, but this too seems like another Twilight Zone, as we are moving in an area of great uncertainty. We will just need to wait and see.
As always, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your life.