Last Friday, the first Friday of the month, the local primary school came over for the 10 o’clock Mass, which was lovely. One of the teachers, and some of the pupils, were providing the music, and I had equipped them with an orchestral music stand that opens up into quite a few sections, allowing for a number of sheets of music to be laid out alongside each other. It’s quite a heavy piece of equipment and, after the school had gone, as I tried to collapse it down again to fit into the cupboard, it suddenly dropped too quickly and sliced off a huge chunk of skin from the index finger of my left hand. The blood poured out, and wouldn’t stop. I went through a plethora of paper towels and tissues trying to stem the blood, but it kept gushing. The cuffs of my alb were bloodstained and I had to soak it in preparation for a later wash. The first aid box was produced. The wound was beyond a sticking plaster, but eventually, with the help of one of our volunteers, a substantial bandage was wrapped around my finger to stem the flow, and absorb the blood. All was well, for now anyway.
Later that day I was to celebrate a wedding. Thinking that this bandage was going to be a bit unsightly and cumbersome, I mistakenly thought that, by that time, the flow of blood would have stopped and that the bandage could be replaced by a plaster. Big mistake! When the bandage was removed the blood began to flow again. A fellow priest, who had come to join me for the wedding ceremony, came to my rescue and, somehow, we managed to wrap about five sticking plasters around the wound, enough to get me through the nuptials without the blood oozing out over the happy couple. Over the next few days, I regularly sanitized the wound and changed the plaster and, only yesterday, five days later, did I decide to dispense with any bandaging and let the air in. There is still a bit of a hole in my fingertip, but, in its usual miraculous way, the body is healing itself and the skin has almost completely renewed.
Yesterday, also, we started our Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows, the patroness of the Passionist Congregation. This Novena has been celebrated in St. Mungo’s for over 50 years, begun by the then rector, Father Pancras Fanning, as a 10-minute reflection after evening Mass on the nine nights leading up to the Feast, which is the 15th September. There are a few people in the parish who have taken part in this Novena from the very beginning. Even during lockdown, unable to celebrate it in the church, we managed to celebrate it online from the Oratory in Bishopbriggs. In times gone by we were able to call on Passionist preachers from far and wide to conduct the Novena, but those days are gone, for the time being anyway, as a result of aging, frailty, and diminishing numbers. We could hardly be spread much more thinly. But the prayer and petition are the most important thing, and we continue to do that as best we can, and we hope the tradition of this Novena will continue for a long time to come.
Earlier this week I took part in a Zoom meeting with our Provincial and Council. As Father Antony is now on the council, I was able to view him in the parish office in Minsteracres, already looking well relaxed in his new surroundings. His mum, his sister, his nephew and his auntie, were all at the opening Novena Mass yesterday morning and so I was able to pass that news on to them, as they haven’t heard from him, and are giving him space to get settled in. I have also been in contact with Father Gareth who has now been to Merthyr Tydfil to see his mum who, thankfully, is doing well, and he has arrived back again to Belfast. He has some bits and pieces to finish off there, before he begins the task of packing up. It’s a tough task to be doing all that again less than a year from having had to do it all to go in the other direction. Still, he’s happy to be returning to St. Mungo’s, and we will look forward to welcoming him, whenever he gets here. Father John is having to go through the process of a driving test so as to acquire a U.K. driving license. Father Justinian remains amazingly well for a man of his years. But, for now, it’s a quiet house, until shh… you know who returns. We can’t wait.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.