This log will complete a Triduum of accounts of recent visits to St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The first visit was for the 1st Anniversary Mass for the late Archbishop Tartaglia, when you might remember I made a couple of faux pas by not recognizing prominent people behind their masks. The second visit was for a period of prayer with the new Archbishop-elect, as he was then, Bishop William Nolan, who, in an act of serendipity, we had included on the front of our St. Mungo’s parish calendar for 2022. To complete the Triduum, I made my way down to St. Andrew’s once again last Saturday, to concelebrate at the Mass of Installation for the new Archbishop. On this occasion, we were joined by priests from all over Scotland, as well as by representatives from every parish in the Archdiocese. The cathedral was packed with, without a doubt, the biggest crowd assembled in two years, since the first lockdown in March 2020.
The Mass was presided over by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. I had only ever met him once, during the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 2012. I was parish priest of Mount Argus at the time, and the cardinal was looking for somewhere to give a talk and celebrate a period of prayer with a group that had come with him from Westminster. I was able to offer him what we call our Chapter Room in Mount Argus. He was very happy with it, and he wrote me a very gracious letter of gratitude afterwards. He wrote to Pope Francis offering his resignation as archbishop as of his 75th birthday on 8 November 2020 and, as is customary; Pope Francis has asked him to stay on as archbishop until the appointment of a successor.
The Installation Mass was celebrated simply and beautifully. Archbishop Nolan spoke very well, covering many topics, as did the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, who is a gentleman of Verona. He had earlier read out the Papal letter of Appointment and presented Archbishop Nolan with his pastoral staff. I was delighted to see the new Archbishop’s choice of motto, Sibilus Aure Tenuis. Back in 1989, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the bible was published. I was Director of Postulants in Dublin at the time, and my classmate was a rising bible scholar. He came to my room one night, extremely excited at how this new version of the bible had translated 1 Kings 19:12. It was already a beautiful text, about Elijah, standing at the mouth of a mountain cave, and experiencing God in, what was at that time, most commonly translated as the gentle breeze. But now, in this purportedly more accurate translation, Elijah experienced God in the sheer silence, and that is what Archbishop Nolan has chosen as his motto. Here is where God is to be found. I was thrilled when I read it.
After the Mass I met our two representatives from St. Mungo’s. They were going to meet their husbands for lunch in a nearby Italian restaurant and invited me to come along and join them. I reckoned I just had time for a quick lunch before making my way back to the church for Saturday afternoon Confessions, and said I would meet them there. After divesting I made my way to the restaurant, only to find it closed for renovation. I tried to phone, but to no avail, and so I just headed for St. Mungo’s. On the way they called me back and said they had relocated to another restaurant, but by that time I felt it would be too tight on time to turn back. However, I will keep reminding them that they owe me a nice Italian lunch.
Back at Bishopbriggs, we are, later today, at last ready to welcome Father John Varghese, as the new member of our community. Hopefully we can get through all the necessary protocols quickly and see him ministering in St. Mungo’s very soon. The rest of us are all fine.
So, as ever, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and others, and protect Christ in your lives.