Despite the negativity still floating around in the media this "Pilgrim" (regd Trade Mark 2010) is beginning to get quite excited. My preparations are under way. At the weekend we got some lightweight deckchairs - reduced to only £5 at Black's - and today I acquired a decent rain cape for only £6.99 at Lidl. If I can occasionally sit down, keep dry in the event of rain, and have sufficient water to drink then I think that I should be able to survive the rigours of Cofton Park.
Now a great deal of fuss is being made about the numbers involved and security and health and safety. At least these are the reasons that have been trotted out for the peculiar arrangements with everyone being bussed in and coralled. Driving past The Hawthorns- the West Bromwich Albion football ground- the other day made me wonder how the numbers involved at a big football match would compare. I did a quick check on Wikipedia and learned that the capacity of Albion's ground is 28,000. St Andrews, the Birmingham City stadium holds 30,700, while Villa Park, the home of Aston Villa holds over 42,000.
All of a sudden the projected numbers for the Beatification Mass at Cofton Park begin to look less unusual both in terms of movements of people and of the levels of policing necessary. On a Saturday with all three teams playing at home there is a potential for something like 100,000 souls converging on those grounds in an already busy urban environment. Of course comparisons begin to fail here because Catholics, unlike the gentle passive and docile football fans are well known for their boisterous, aggressive and often violent alcohol-fuelled behaviour. And their rivalries! Police will doubtless be stretched to the limits keeping Legion of Mary supporters well away from the SVP. And if the Charismatic Renewal were to clash with the Tridentinists...need I say more!
.Thankfully we will have the West Midlands Police force to sort that lot out! Their extraordinary track record of looking after Catholics - especially Irish ones- is legendary and their enthusiasm for confessions is said to far exceed that of some south coast bishops. Since we now have Extraordinary Ministers of Communion why stop there? Extraordinary Ministers of Confession next? And who better to get it off to a start?
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