As I write, it’s day 4 of our Annual Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows. Father Antony, Father Gareth and myself are taking a day about, and today is one my days, which means I have celebrated the morning Mass in the church, and tonight I will present a period of prayer and reflection, incorporating our Novena Prayers, which will be streamed from the Oratory in Bishopbriggs. The day didn’t start very well, though. There was an influx of early morning bookings for today’s Mass when I checked in on my laptop before breakfast. By the time I responded to those I was running late. In the ensuing rush I left the house without my mobile phone. On arriving at St. Mungo’s, I asked Father Antony to ring Father Gareth and ask him to fetch my phone and bring it in with him, as he was coming in a bit later to celebrate a Funeral Mass after the Novena. This meant revealing my secret hiding place, where I kept the spare key to my room for emergencies, which, to be honest, I have had to use more often than I would like, as I have a habit of forgetting keys, even more than I forget my mobile phone.
I then came up to the parish office and turned on my desktop computer, intending to print out an up-to-date list of bookings to give to the volunteers for the 10 o’clock Mass, so that they could check people in. The document seemed to be taking a very long time to open. I decided to close it and try to open it again, but I ended up freezing the computer. I had to turn it off and restart. When I restarted the computer, I was offered all kinds of diagnostic solutions, which I declined, and had to restart it once again. By the time I got the list printed off half the people were already in the church and we had to conduct some remedial registration. Eventually, we got sorted, and I was able to snatch a few minutes of deep breathing and invocation of the Holy Spirit before Mass, as by this stage I was not at all recollected.
After Mass I managed to mislay an intention request, with a donation inside, which I had read out along with some of the petitions during the Mass. Having searched the altar area, and the sacristy, I then discovered I had brought it up to the office after all, with no memory whatsoever of having done so. I had a quick mug of tea and then attended to some administrative duties before rushing up to Drumchapel to bring my brother for an appointment I had made for him with the optician. I had noticed him peering at the menu on the television, and also struggling to read, which he loves to do. I discovered it had been 13 years since he last had his eyes tested, so it was well long overdue. Before leaving St. Mungo’s, I thought I had put the pen I was using in the office into a pen jar that I keep on my desk. I was later informed that I had actually put the pen into my half-drunk mug of tea.
The day took an upturn when, after my brother’s eye test, and the choosing of two frames, one for distance glasses, and one for reading glasses, the assistant asked if she should size the frames there and then, so that I could just pick them up when they were ready, or did I want to bring my father back in again. I looked at him, and he looked at me, and he said to her, “Actually, I’m his younger brother”. She looked aghast and apologetic. “I know from your form you are 66”, she said to my brother, “so what age are you?”, she said to me. “69”, says I. “Oh no”, says she, “I thought you were only in your 40’s”. What had begun as a pretty awful day had just ended on a high note. I thanked her profusely and couldn’t wait to get back and tell the rest of the community who, no doubt, would not believe me”.
The latest news from Bishopbriggs is that, with East Dunbartonshire now on lockdown again, Father Justinian has had to curtail his social life, which far exceeds that of the rest of us; Father Antony returned safely from his classmate’s ordination; Father Gareth is getting ready to go to Merthyr Tydfil again, just for a week, to support his mum through some medical appointments; while I get quietly more forgetful and confused, despite being only in my 40’s.
So, as always, protect yourselves and your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.