A couple of weeks ago, we Passionists provided some extra cover for the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, while one of the usual daytime chaplains was on holiday. Until recently, the priests on the chaplaincy rota received a pager. If there was a call, we would be contacted by the hospital switchboard on the pager, and then phone the hospital to get the details we required, so as to visit and administer the Sacrament of the Sick. Now, however, the pager has been replaced by a dedicated mobile phone, so that we can be contacted directly. When we finished our cover, it was down to me to deliver the phone, together with its charger, to the next parish responsible. With the old pager, the simplest thing was just to put the pager, secure in its padded envelope, through the letter box of the next recipient. When I set out to do this on this occasion, however, the first obstacle was that the road to the church was closed for roadworks – no surprise there! I then had to return by the way I came, and, like the Magi, go by another route. On arriving at the church, now running late, I discovered that the new phone and its charger wouldn’t fit through the letter box. I rang the doorbell. No answer. I rang again. No answer. I then took the phone and charger out of its plastic wallet, to see if they would fit through the letter box separately. No joy. The problem was the charger. It was too chunky. I rang the bell again. No answer. What to do? I felt as if I was in a sitcom. It then occurred to me that it was daily Mass time in this parish, and so I sauntered round to the church to find Mass was just beginning. I had the choice of heading off and coming back later, or else waiting for Mass. I chose to wait for Mass, and I heard a nice homily for the Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). After Mass I ventured into the sacristy to deliver the phone and pager directly into the priest’s hands. It was quite providential in that he had only been there for a week, and I was able to greet him and wish him well in his new assignment. Eventually I made it back to St. Mungo’s to catch up on my work there. I will now need to check with my brother priests on the hospital rota, and ask how big is their letter box. Happily, our letter box in St. Mungo’s is massive.
Tomorrow, we are having a camera installed in St. Mungo’s to pave the way for live streaming of services. 16 years ago, when I was rector and parish priest at Mount Argus in Dublin, we became one of the first churches in Ireland to instal live streaming. The catalyst was the impending canonization of St. Charles of Mount Argus, due to take place on Trinity Sunday, 3rd June 2007, in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. There would of course be a pilgrimage to Rome from the parish for the occasion, as indeed there was a pilgrimage from St. Mungo’s which many will remember. Many people, however, would not be able to go to Rome, so we planned a 3-day celebration at Mount Argus. I had a wonderful team of helpers, one of whom was a reader in the church, who was also involved in the setting up of Church Services, an organization which, while helping many parishes set up and administer their websites, was also just beginning to provide live streaming. We agreed it would be wonderful to be able to stream events from Mount Argus and reach people across the globe who had an affinity with this wonderful Passionist church, and a devotion to Father Charles. And that’s how it all began. For those 3 days Mount Argus was like Glastonbury. The church was packed, as was the car park, the hall, and the giant marquee we had installed. On the day of the canonization, it poured from the heavens, in Dublin and in Rome, and then we had two days of sunshine. It was all amazing, and many more people were able to share in it because of the streaming. I have dragged my feet a bit with regard to providing live streaming in St. Mungo’s but, more and more, post-Covid, when it has become almost a normal part of many people’s lives, even though never a substitute for coming to church and being with the worshipping community, the family of faith, still we felt the time was right, and so, here we come - watch this space!
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.