The early part of April this year has commemorated a couple of landmark anniversaries for me and my family. On 1st April 2000 I conducted the wedding of my niece, so this year marked their 20th anniversary. I’m ashamed to say I forgot about it, initially, and then belatedly contacted her to offer the two of them my congratulations. It was a memorable day and it was the last family gathering that my mother attended before she passed away the following year. The father of the bride, my famous, or infamous brother, the doyen of Scottish sport’s journalists as I like to call him, is still in lockdown with his beloved wife, but using social media he was able to get a lovely Italian meal, complimented by good wine, sent to his daughter and son-in-law, from Massimo’s Restaurant in Bearsden, so that they could celebrate. I am also writing this log on Holy Wednesday, and this marks the 60th anniversary of my father’s death. On the morning of Friday 8th April 1960, the Friday before the beginning of Holy Week that year, two policemen came to our door at 5 Thurso Street in Partick, to inform my mother that her husband, who was working away in Consett at the time, in the steel works, having been made redundant from the shipyards, had collapsed and died on his way to work earlier that very day. It’s hard to believe that 60 years have passed since then. My brothers and I were 6, 8 and 10 years of age at the time. Our mother was 40.
In the meantime, we, the Passionists, have settled into a different pattern of life, and this now includes streaming some Masses and Services from the oratory of our Passionist community house in Bishopbriggs. Unfortunately, we are not able to do it from the church as we don’t have proper streaming facilities, but people who have been able to log in seem to enjoy the intimacy of the smaller space, while still of course longing for our return to St. Mungo’s. We are also being joined by people from Ireland and also from other countries, Italy, Spain and Singapore included. There has been the odd technical glitch but, for the most part, it has gone quite smoothly. The actual oratory in our house is very small and wouldn’t have been at all suitable, and so, for the time being, we have converted Father Lawrence’s room into a sacred space and that is where we stream from. Father Lawrence continues to make his presence felt. While we were streaming our Service of Healing and Reconciliation on Holy Tuesday night, just as Father Antony prepared to proclaim the first reading, a telephone sounded. We cast accusatory glances at each other, wondering who was daft enough to leave their phone on, and then we realised that, from behind a curtain concealing a book case, it was actually Father Lawrence’s phone that was sounding. Father Antony quickly turned it off and we resumed the service. Afterwards I tried to redial the number but it appeared to be withheld.
Tonight, Holy Wednesday, our Passionist Young Team are going to pray the Stations of the Cross online. With Father Gareth away, I took the unlikely step of joining Facebook so as to support Father Antony in contact with the young people in any way that I could. As an avowed technophobe, however, I had no idea what this actually entailed, and I got a bit panicky when my mailbox filled up with all these friend requests, hundreds of them, some from very good people I knew, but mostly from people I’ve never heard of in my life. I have decided, therefore, that after the Stations of the Cross this night I am going to un-subscribe, or whatever it is you do, as I don’t really see myself becoming a social media buff - a night in with a good book seems much more appealing. Otherwise, Father Gareth is still in Wales, with a bit of a sore throat at present, and a blocked nose, so it’s really his mum that’s looking after him now and not vice-versa. Father Antony maintains his evening walks, still stopping at his mum’s house; I continue to provide daily care for my brother who has now received his letter from the Prime Minister, although, vulnerable as he is, he might be in better shape than poor Boris at the moment; and lastly, Father Justinian, who today celebrates his 89th birthday, continues his house isolation, with an occasional walk in the garden. So, have a truly blessed Easter; as always, protecting yourselves and others, and protecting Christ in your lives