As some of you may have noticed, there was no Log last week. At this time, I’m still trying to balance my life between Saint Mungo’s and the hospital where my brother remains in poor health. At the end of what had been a difficult week, I had neither the energy nor the clarity of thought to compose my Log, which I’m sure you will appreciate and understand.
However, there were blessed moments in that week too. At the beginning of the week, on the Bank Holiday Monday, we were scheduled to go on a parish pilgrimage to Carfin. This was intended as part of our celebrations for the 150th Jubilee of the Solemn Dedication of Saint Mungo’s Church, which took place on 12th September, 1869. We have a few simple projects and events to mark the occasion, culminating in our Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows in September. The day didn’t start very well. I had been at the hospital with my brother through the night and didn’t get home to bed till 5 a.m. Generally, I am in bed before 11 o’clock each night. I read for a while until my eyes begin to droop, then I put the light out, set my head on the pillow and, before I go to sleep, I listen to the midnight news on the radio. I’m not sure if that is a good routine in terms of getting a good night’s rest, sometimes I sleep well, sometimes I don’t, but going to bed at 5 a.m. is definitely not part of my routine.
I had two hours sleep before getting up for breakfast and morning prayer with the community, after which I headed into the church to get things ready for the pilgrimage day. My first anxiety on such occasions is always to worry that the bus is not going to turn up. Ironically, the first two people to arrive had both been bus drivers in their day, and they had stories to tell about bus trips they had been involved in down the years. Mercifully, the bus turned up in good time and, miraculously, everyone was seated on the bus at the time we had set for departure – except for one person! This person shall remain nameless, suffice to say that no one was all that surprised. Fifteen minutes later this person boarded the bus to great shouts of derision from fellow pilgrims, but it was all in good nature.
After all the lovely May weather, the forecast for the day was very bad and, sure enough, while we were on the road, the heavens opened and I thought, here we go, the day will be a disaster. When we arrived, however, it wasn’t too bad, and we made our way to the Xavier Centre which was to be our base for the occasion. We began the day with some prayer time and a talk, which left us with about 40 minutes to have a walk around the shrine area before lunch. At this stage the sun was shining, and everyone enjoyed the free time. As we headed to the pilgrim centre for lunch the rains came again, but by now we were under cover and enjoying the nicest steak pie dinner I’ve had in ages, followed by delicious apple crumble. After dinner we had planned a rosary walk and, would you believe it, the sun came out again and we basked in lovely warmth as we walked around in prayerful companionship.
After the rosary we made our way back to the Xavier Centre for a final prayer service and a rededication of ourselves to God’s purposes. While inside the rains came again. There was a pattern developing here – when we were inside, and undercover, it rained; when we were outside, exposed in the open, we were basking in sunshine. Somebody up there must have been smiling upon us. The day finished with Mass in the Glass Chapel. Once on the bus for the journey home, the heavens opened again, and the rain was torrential when we arrived back at Saint Mungo’s, by which stage we didn’t really care. It had been a blessed time.
The other blessing that week was that, on the last day of May, the Feast of the Visitation, as I was preparing to celebrate a wedding in Saint Mungo’s, Brother Antony returned from his spiritual sojourn in Italy, a prayerful month to prepare for his Final Profession as a Passionist on 16th June. Immediately, he was helping me to get set up for the wedding and, suddenly, I felt the pressure begin to lift. It’s good to have him back, but don’t tell him I said that!