A Christmas Dilemma!




20th December 2020


I am never quite sure that, when a system which is intended to protect all at the inconvenience of some, is a blessing or a curse for the individual when it works against their other interests.

That is the dilemma in which I found myself from yesterday.

The system that worked was the Test, Trace & Protect arrangements which operate when the contacts of a person who is found to have tested positive for the coronavirus, are contacted by NHS Wales.

It is not so pleasing when it happens at the beginning of the second busiest ten days of the Church’s year and therefore puts me out of public priestly action for those same days with the consequent failure to be able to provide Masses at which you can participate. It is especially annoying as the number of places available at Christmas Masses this year is so dramatically reduced.

I am of course grateful to have the knowledge of the infection risk to myself and of the risk I may now present to those who come to Mass: but I am not happy that my ministry gets curtailed in this way. I can cope easily enough with the isolation; I can still pray and celebrate the Mass for the Church and the World; I can feel more compassionately for the great number of people who are always housebound or sick and vulnerable who are isolating, but it is difficult to not do that for which I was ordained - to be the shepherd with his flock, albeit for just ten days!


Please be assured I won’t be going to Barnard Castle, though there is an hamlet nearby by the name of BRIGNALL from which many centuries ago my family may have come, but I won’t be trying to find out this week!


I share with you a prayer from the Gaelic oral tradition prayer from the Hebrides:


My Christ! my Christ! my shield, my encircler,

Each day, each night, each light, each dark:

My Christ! my Christ! my shield, my encircler,

Each day, each night, each light, each dark:


Be near me, uphold me, my treasure, my triumph.

In my lying, in my standing, in my watching in my sleeping.


Jesus, Son of Mary! my helper, my encircler,

Jesus, Son of David! my strength everlasting:

Jesus, Son of Mary! my helper, my encircler,

Jesus, Son of David! my strength everlasting.


Alexander Carmichael, crofter, Barra. Carmina Gadelica (Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh 1900)


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