As I write this log, on a Thursday as usual, today is the 1st of July, the 70th anniversary of my Baptism, exactly one week after my birth. I was baptized in St. Simon’s in Partick, which is on Partick Bridge Street, the same street in which at that time we lived, and where I was house-born on the 24th of June 1951. Before the liturgical reforms after Vatican II, the 1st of July was the feast of the Precious Blood, the companion feast of Corpus Christi, but now they are both combined into the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. However, given how closely the Precious Blood is connected to our Passionist charism, focussing on the Passion of Jesus as a work of infinite love, in Passionist churches we still celebrate the feast of the Precious Blood on this day. In fact, I have just come off the altar after celebrating this Mass along with Father Gareth. Father Justinian and Father Antony celebrated it at home.
I am also hoping that, as I write today, a long quest has come to an end. For some time now I have been trying to find a chiropodist to attend my brother at home. Last year it was arranged by the local health centre, but they no longer do it. They gave me the contact details for a clinic, but they no longer do it either. I have tried various numbers that either ring out, ask me to leave a message, or else promise a call back that never comes. However, at last, I have found someone to come, and she has promised to be there this morning to do the needful, for which I am grateful. As my brother is on a thinner, hopefully no precious blood of his spills.
It must be 15 years ago or more that I, myself, swallowed my foolish pride and asked our community nurse at Mount Argus in Dublin to cut my toenails. I was a bit embarrassed to ask her, but I had developed some back trouble, partly due to a fall, and partly due to a stubborn tendency to do heavy lifting around the church, when there were parishioners who would gladly have helped me with that. This meant that I found the task of cutting my toenails very difficult, and any attempt to do so left my back aching for a long time after. Thankfully, our nurse was more than willing, and from then on it became a regular appointment.
It was towards the end of the last millennium that the decision was made to get a full-time nurse for our Passionist community in Dublin. Mount Argus is our mother house and by far the biggest house in the province. The men, however, were getting older and more fragile. Our desire was to do all we could to enable our religious to live in their own community for as long as was possible, and that, only as a last resort, would we look to a nursing home. Up until then we had, from time to time, on a temporary basis, engaged a nurse for a specific member of the religious community as needed, but now was the time, we felt, to engage a nurse for all. There was some reluctance among the members initially. Some found it difficult to come to terms with their own diminishment, and some were concerned that a new nursing station would be set up within what used to be called the enclosure. There were ground-floor areas of the monastery that were open to the public, but the enclosure was always reserved as a private area for the religious only. The fact that the nurse we engaged was also a woman created particular problems for those who considered the enclosure sacrosanct. However, within a short space of time, because our nurse was such a lovely person, sensitive to the men and their needs, and amazingly good at her job, those who had protested most, soon became first in the queue on any given morning to demand her attention. She established herself very quickly as a much loved, and absolutely vital part of the life of the monastery. She retired only recently and it’s hard to imagine Mount Argus without her. Our Passionist community in Bishopbriggs is too small to have its own nurse, but we have been glad in recent times that Father Lawrence lived in the house right up to the end, which is what he wanted, and Father Justinian, at 90, is well cared for in the house too. Father Gareth and Father Antony are too young to even be thinking such thoughts, and I hope I am too, at least for a few years yet. So, as always, protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives