“They found Him in the Temple”
(Lk.3:46)


 

The rose window, depicting scenes from the Creation of man.

On 24th September 2018, my parish Church, Saint Bridget’s, one of two Churches forming the new Parish of Saint Ambrose in Baillieston, within the Diocese of Motherwell, will celebrate it’s 125th anniversary, having been built in 1893. The photograph above is of the newly renovated sanctuary, sitting beneath the great rose window which depicts the Creation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say of the local Church –

“In Christian usage, the word ‘church’ designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. ‘The Church’ is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.” (Catechism, para.752)

For me, this describes my parish well. The Eucharistic celebration is the primary means of drawing in the local community of believers, with the celebration of the other Sacraments acting as tributaries into that flowing river of divine grace.

The Eucharist is truly the heart of our community – the beating heart – and it is this which holds the parish and it’s people together. In a sense, I am deeply envious of those who are able to attend Mass every morning – I know what a great grace this is, and I long for the day I might share in that grace with them.

Mass each Sunday morning is the high point of my week, the moment I long for all week long. At this, Eucharist and local community come together in a beautiful way.

Asperges at the Easter Vigil 2017

The Catechism also expressively describes the local parish as “a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God himself foretold that he would be the shepherd”. And so in this sense, the parish is the gate of Heaven, the doorway we must enter to find Christ waiting within, waiting to welcome us and lead us to the Father.

Saint Bridget’s is a blessed and unusual parish in that the doors remain open all day every day. Although I am not able to attend daily morning Mass, I am able to visit the Church whenever I can, most usually after work in the afternoons. Sitting there praying in absolute silence is, for me, a very special grace and one for which I am enormously thankful. It is the place where I find the Lord, in His real and sacramental presence. It is the place where I can simply be with Him, and where all else ceases to exist for as long as I am there with Him. It is a place of great peace and deep prayer, for which I thank Him.

Of course, it is a communal place as much as a private place, and I am blessed to have gotten to known some wonderful people in the parish, and to be touched by them in various ways, and to learn from them. Several special people come to mind as I write this, one of whom I wrote about previously.

And if the parish is a sheepfold, as the Catechism says, then it needs a shepherd; and Saint Bridget’s has had a number of good shepherd’s over the past 125 years, all of whom have left their mark on the parish and it’s people.

At a special anniversary Mass tomorrow evening, a number of former Priests and Curates of the Parish will return to celebrate Mass with the Bishop. Many of the formers Priests can be found on the Centenary page of the parish website.

I thank the Merciful Lord for this beautiful Church of Saint Bridget, for the Priests and the people who make it what it is, and for the graces the Lord bestows so kindly through it, and I bring all before the Lord in my prayers as we move into the anniversary.