Living in different countries, or visiting different countries, for meetings and gatherings, if ever there was a social night and a sing-song, I used to enjoy giving a rendition of the old Glasgow street-song, “Wee Johnny’s Lost His Jorrie”. If you don’t know it, essentially it tells the story of a wee boy who thought he had lost a marble (jorrie) down a drain (stank), doon at the Broomielaw (on the north bank of the River Clyde). He tries to retrieve it using a clothes pole (claes pole), then his brother and sister tied to the claes pole, which he rammed doon the stank; and at the end he even uses some dynamite, and blows up the Broomielaw, only then to discover that the jorrie was in his back pocket all the time.
I always thought it unlikely that you could have a marble in your back pocket and not realise it, but that all changed last Sunday when, after the 12 o’clock Mass, Father Gareth thought he had lost his church keys. Now, we’re not talking about one or two keys here, we’re talking about a whole bunch of keys of varying sizes. Father Gareth is always very fastidious when it comes to locking doors. He is one of those people who will always go back two or three times to check that he has locked them properly, so the thought of losing his keys was quite distressing for him. With the help of Deacon Joe, he searched everywhere; all over the church; out in the church porch; the street outside the church; every drawer and nook and cranny in the sacristy; even the safe where the sacred vessels and the tabernacle key are put back; every part of the office; every toilet. He searched all over his car, and checked every pocket of every garment he possessed – except one. He returned home despondent. Someone must have them, he thought. Would we have to change all the locks? Then, when he sat down in the chair in his room, out at Bishopbriggs, he was conscious of something in his back pocket – and there were the keys. “I never put anything in my back pocket – ever!”, he said. Aye right! Anyway, he, and all of us, were mighty relieved that the keys had been found, and Father Gareth has been in great form ever since, even more so now that Wales are doing so well in the European Championships.
As I write I am looking forward to conferring, for the second time this week, the Sacrament of Confirmation. Last Monday we celebrated with last year’s P7’s from St. Mungo’s and St. Stephen’s Primary Schools who, because of Covid-19, had their Confirmation postponed. In fact, the day the church closed, 19th March 2020, was the very day that the late Archbishop Tartaglia had been scheduled to come and confer the Holy Spirit upon them. It was postponed another couple of times since then but now, at last, as they near the end of their first year in secondary school, they have been able to conclude this stage of their faith journey, having now celebrated all three Sacraments of Initiation. Tonight, I will be celebrating with this year’s P7’s from both schools, having been granted faculties for both.
I have had the privilege of conferring the sacrament before when a bishop, for one reason or another, wasn’t available, but I was recalling a time in Dublin when, instead of delegating the parish priests, the Archdiocese asked a retired missionary bishop to do the Confirmations. He was a Divine Word Missionary who had been a bishop in Africa and was now retired back home to Ireland. I remember when he took his mitre out of its case that it was pristine white, and had obviously never been worn. He told me that he had passed through Rome on his way back and was advised that Pope John Paul II would almost certainly die while he was there, and that he would be invited to join with many other bishops at the requiem Mass. He thought that his mitre was rather tatty and so invested in a new one but, of course, the pope didn’t die, not then, and not for a couple of years after. The bishop was glad of the chance to use his new mitre at least once, but equally glad to put it back into mothballs after, and enjoy retirement. Anyway, we are all well in Bishopbriggs and hoping Father Antony is enjoying his holiday.
So, as ever, protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.