At the time of writing we have completed our first schedule of Public Masses. We held two Sunday Masses at 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock, to which we will now add a 6.00 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday; and two weekday Masses on Tuesday and Thursday at 10 o’clock. We will also add an extra day for personal prayer, adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. These are now available on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2.00-4.00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 3.00-5.00 p.m., but we have dropped the Sunday afternoon time as it wasn’t so well attended, and we now have the two morning Masses on the Sunday anyway. It’s all about feeling our way at the moment, but I have been struck by how we are very much creatures of habit. For example, we have had Confessions since 24th June, and until last week it was easily manageable for Father Antony and myself, but in the days leading up to churches opening again for Public Masses we were inundated with Confessions, and that’s what has led us to adding an extra day. I also wondered if the Sunday afternoons were quiet because people don’t associate Sunday with going to Confession. Also, despite the temporary lifting of the Sunday Mass obligation, and the encouragement to opt for a Weekday Mass if possible, so as to free up space on Sunday for those who can’t come to a Weekday Mass, the Sunday Masses both reached their 50 quota easily, while the weekday Masses have been only half-full.
Up to this point I have been responding to all the booking applications personally as we decided not to opt for Eventbrite or any other booking system. There is something jarring about seeing a notice saying that Masses are “sold out”, and so, despite the extra load, we have tried to operate through our own parish website. It certainly has a more personal feel about it, and I am gradually developing my own way of doing things, but I am asking people to be patient as I cannot always respond immediately because of other commitments – and I do need to eat and sleep now and again. A nice gentleman turned up for Mass on Tuesday morning and said he didn’t get confirmation of his booking. I asked him when he had booked, and he said it was 45 minutes previously. At that stage I was setting things up for Mass and preparing to open up for the volunteer stewards to arrive and set things in motion. There was no problem with him coming in though, once he was happy to give his contact details, because, as already stated, the midweek masses have been only half full. Another phoned while I was having my dinner and said they hadn’t received a reply to a booking request which was submitted only 15 minutes previously. Again, no problem, but please note, I am not on auto-response and, as we are asked to verify on PayPal and the like, I am not a robot.
The first Public Mass here in St. Mungo’s was at 10 o’clock last Sunday. As I came out to begin the Mass, I felt fine, but as soon as I began the Introductory Rites, and welcomed people back, I felt myself filling up and, unashamedly, tears began to flow. I was told by some people afterwards that I set them off too, and why not, it was an emotional occasion, and it meant so much more to people than those who put public worship at the end of the queue after pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, card shops, D.I.Y. stores, and the like, gave credit for. So, despite the limitations, it’s wonderful to be gathering, listening, receiving the Holy Eucharist, and being sent out together, to live the Gospel, once again. Praise God! The news from Bishopbriggs is that Father Justinian has had a major clean-up job done on his room. His niece and sister-in-law arrived last Tuesday at around 11.00 a.m. and left at 3.00 p.m., and what a fantastic job they did. It is a total transformation. Father Antony is still enjoying being an uncle again. He was playing it cool, but I could see his concern when wee Liam was taken back into hospital with a slight jaundice, but he was out again next day, and Uncle Antony was a happy bunny once again. The big news, of course, is that Father Gareth will be back to us around the 19th/20th of August. His mum finishes shielding on the 16th and, once he sees she is coping okay, he will head back to us, and we are really looking forward to that.
As always, protect yourselves and your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.