Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hogmanay...Aye! (Part II)

The second part of my trip is in Scotland. On the 28th of Christmas I arrived in Edinburgh by plane. Austin (Toledo) was going to meet me in Edinburgh later that day. So I had some time to explore the city. I met up with Dominican priest I had met at WYD in Madrid. At that time he was a deacon. Fr. Lawrence and I got some coffee and talked about his apostolate as a chaplain and then later in the afternoon I attended his Mass. It was pretty nice being back in an English speaking country. Just being able to read all the signs with no struggle was enough to put a smile on my face. The weather was wet and windy, which I heard was typical for this time of year. Meeting up with Austin was a bit more difficult than I had hoped. The train I was expecting him on was canceled so it ended being two hours later before he arrived in Edinburgh.

The next day we took a bus tour of the highlands. It was one of the only 'touristy' things I did, but it was well worth it. The highlands are stunning! I saw all sorts of beautiful landscapes. And there was snow! The bus driver gave us lots of history. We even got to see Loch Ness. Though we didn't get a glimpse of the monster.

After the highland tour we took a bus to Glasgow to meet up with the chaplain of the university there. I had arranged with Fr. John a guest room at his
chaplaincy. Fr. John, what a great example of a good and holy priest. We were only with him one night but he took such good care of Austin and I. First of all, he didn't have any guest rooms, instead he gave us his own room (which was a model of simplicity) and he slept some where else. He also gave us a great tour of Glasgow and showed us the museum there. After serving Mass for him in the morning, a few of the seminarians from Scotland (who I know from classes at the Angelicum) met up with us for lunch. Lunch turned into dinner as we were having so much fun together. Fr. John had also studied in Rome so he was sharing with us his experiences at the Scottish College. He even had one of my favorite professors (Fr. Murphy SJ) from the Josephinum has his professor at the Greg. Thank you to Fr. John for his witness to a true priestly life. We wish we could return the favor...

We met up with Paul, a Scottish seminarian of the diocese of Paisley. He and I are classmates at the Angelicum. He took us to his hometown. His aunt was nice enough to give us use of her vacant flat for two nights. On New Year's Eve, Paul took us around his hometown. We of course had to start the day with a traditional Scottish big breakfast, which was the best breakfast I've had since I left the U.S. Another real treat was after the noon Mass at the Cathedral the pastor invited us in for some hospitality. Again and again I'm so amazed as I meet priests around the world. There are so many heroes, so many holy men who've dedicated their lives to the service of the Church. Perhaps that is one of the greatest graces from the whole trip was listening and learning from the priests we encountered.

One of the most moving parts of the trip for me was vigil Mass at Paul's parish for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. It struck me, I hadn't been in an English speaking parish since August. I thought of my family and of my own parish back in Tawas. I especially thought of my own mom. Through the whole Mass I held my rosary, as if by holding my rosary I could hold on to Mary's hand and by holding onto Mary's hand I could hold unto my mom's hand. For me, it was a really prayerful and powerful celebration of Holy Mass.

In Scotland, New Year's eve is called Hogmanay. No one seemed to know where the word comes from. Paul's parents were kind enough to ask us to spend Hogmanay with them at their house. Paul's mum made tons of food for all of us. The Scots have some interesting traditions for Hogmanay. At midnight which they call the bells everyone crosses arms, holds hands, and sings Auld Lang Syne. Then half the family goes outside to be welcomed into the house at the bells. The 'guests' come bearing gifts; tangerines, a few pence, and holy water. Then the father sprinkles the holy water throughout the house.

The next morning, Paul's dad drove Austin and I to the airport. We flew from Glasgow to London for the third part of my journey.

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