Welcome to the first Log of 2024. It seems appropriate to provide a little catch-up on the last few weeks. Christmas in St Mungo’s and St Roch’s seemed to go off well but, as you can imagine, being our first Christmas with the two parishes to look after, it was all a bit exhausting. On Christmas night we gathered at home in Bishopbriggs and had Lasagne with garlic bread, which isn’t traditional Christmas fare, I know, but in our state of tiredness it was as much as we were able for, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterwards, Father Justinian and myself had Christmas pudding and custard which was lovely too, but we were a wee bit disappointed that we had forgotten to get brandy butter. On St Stephen’s Day, after two Masses in St Mungo’s and one in St Roch’s, we went out to a local carvery and had turkey and ham, with all the trimmings, so we had the traditional fare after all. Father Gareth had set his heart on red velvet cake for dessert, but, sadly, they had run out, and he had to settle for carrot cake. Father John is not eating desserts. He is going home to India soon for a family wedding, so I think he must want to be sure of fitting into his wedding suit. I had been given a gift of cranberry sauce, which I love, and so, as we hadn’t had it on Christmas Day, over the next few days, I had turkey again in a variety of forms, just to enjoy the sauce.
At Hogmanay I attended the usual Keevins’ clan gathering at my niece’s house in Bearsden. We had homemade soup and a steak pie dinner as usual but, with a busy New Year’s morning to face into, I left at 11pm and was back in Bishopbriggs, and even tucked up in bed, as were the rest of the community, before the bells. Hogmanay, of course, is Father Gareth’s birthday, but he had left a couple of days before to drive to Wales, so as to spend some time with his mum. On New Year’s night we had steak pie again, this time in the community, a gift from a parishioner, very delicious. My Hogmanay steak pie had sausages in it, my Ne’erday steak pie had no sausages – still one of the great debates of our time, sausages or no sausages?
The celebrations didn’t end there. On January 13th, the Feast of St Mungo, my younger brother celebrated his 70th birthday, a miracle in itself, given his many and various ailments and conditions. When I went up to the house that afternoon there was a surprise gathering of some of the clan once again. My older brother (the doyen of Scottish sport journalism) and his good lady wife; my two nieces, one grand-niece and two grand nephews, and the husband of one of my nieces. During the gathering there was also a call from our nephew in Brighton and his family. The birthday boy sat in the midst of it all like the Buddha, letting the chaos unfold around him. I had an appointment for removing wax from my ears a couple of days before. The first time I had this done was when I worked in Olivetti, 50 years ago, when the factory had its own nurse. It was probably another 15 years or more before I had to get it done again, by which time I was an ordained Passionist priest. However, over the years, it has become an annual necessity. The only reason I mention it is that, such was the cacophony of noise in my brother’s small flat during the 70th birthday celebrations, that I was wishing I had waited a few days before getting the procedure done, just to dull the noise down a bit. But truly, it was lovely that they all turned up for the occasion, and it was greatly appreciated.
The following day, January 14th, we began the 40 Hours of Adoration here in St Mungo’s. There is no more beautiful church in the city than St Mungo’s, but during the 40 Hours it looks even more beautiful. It is such a prayerful time, and one that I draw great grace and strength from, which I am sure will be very much required, as it will be only a short while before we enter into the Season of Lent, which is about as early as it can be this year, with Ash Wednesday being St Valentine’s Day, not usually associated with fast and abstinence, and Easter being celebrated before the month of March has even come to an end. Ah well…
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.