One of the tasks I could always depend on Father Antony to do, at one time with Father Gareth riding side-saddle, so that they could go for an all-day breakfast in Asda afterwards, was to bring the weekend count to the bank and lodge it. Over the few years since I came, the method of doing this has changed on several occasions, so that now it’s more of a self-service operation. Part of the process is to tip any coin in the lodgement into a big counting machine. This might require several goes until all the coin is inserted and a receipt is printed, which is then placed into the lodgement bag, along with a lodgement slip, and then fed into the deposit box, whereby another receipt is printed out for our records. It’s not rocket science but it can be a bit time consuming, and it was certainly time consuming this week as the task has now fallen to me. There was a lot of coin because there had been an unusually large number of the little milk bottles that people hand in to help pay off the parish debt for the renovations that were done over 20 years ago. For an old man like myself that can be a very heavy load to carry. When I arrived at the bank there were already three people waiting at the coin machine, and so, I firstly deposited the notes, and then came back to take my place in the queue. The first person seemed to have a vast amount of coin to deposit, then two ladies with a smaller amount. The man in front of me began to tip his coins in, but half way through the machine came to a halt. After a staff attempt to get it going again, the diagnosis was that the machine was full, and that we would have to wait a while until someone came to empty it. As I was on the 12.15pm Mass I decided not to risk waiting. The next day I returned again, dragging my heavy load behind me. When I got to the bank there was someone trying to fix the machine and I was told it would be at least two hours before it would be available. When I gave an exasperated sigh, I was told that this is what happens when people put into the machine stuff that isn’t mean to be put in. Having seen my fair share of foreign coins, and even supermarket trolley coins in the collection over the years, I could have a certain amount of sympathy. The next day I returned again, and it was third time lucky. I was greatly relieved to finally have the lodgement complete but lamented lost time that could have been spent more productively.
Still loosely on the theme of coins, I am very disappointed and disheartened that the cost of parking around St. Mungo’s has been doubled. We are considered to be city centre for parking purposes, but really it is penalising people going to Mass and, at this time, when we are enduring a cost-of-living crisis, it seems a rather crass and heartless thing to do. I don’t want to lose people but, with every penny counting at this time, I would of course understand if people choose to go elsewhere for Mass where they don’t have to pay. Having said that, I would rather that they put less into the collection than go elsewhere, as their presence, their prayerfulness, and their friendship is much more important to us than anything else.
It may be that the cost of parking may also affect our Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows which begins next Wednesday, 7th September, and runs until the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Thursday 15th September. There was a time when, in preparation for the Novena, we would look to Passionists in Ireland or England, sometimes even further afield, to come and preach for the nine days. Alas, those days seem to have gone. The Passionists in England are unable to maintain their ministries and that is why Father Antony has gone to Minsteracres, or else it would have had to close. In every Passionist house in Ireland, we are stretched to the limit because of our diminishment in regard to the numbers, age and health of our members. A main theme of last Chapter was how to manage our diminishment. So, our Novena is much simpler now, and the focus is very much on prayer and petition, adoration and reconciliation, uniting our sorrows to Mary’s sorrows, feeling close to her, and drawing comfort from knowing that she will understand, and that she will be praying for us in the presence of her Son, and praying with us in the moments of quiet adoration. It will still be a blessed time.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives