Well it has been a relaxing week with a lot of sleeping. I did have some interesting liturgical experiences though.
On Tuesday I ran around and got things I needed for the trip. I mostly was in search of present for my Godson’s sister and her first communion. She is a devout and holy young lady for 6 years of age. On monday night we were discussing her upcoming first communion and she just sighed and said “I wish it could be tomorrow.” It was so clear the hunger she had for the Eucharist. It was beautiful.
So what did I get her? Well I do have some medals blessed for her by Pope John Paul II. A miraculous medal and one of Therese who is her favorite saint (sorry don’t know how to do the french accent mark here). But she is growing her hair long (she wants it down to her feet) and I suggested she learn how to braid it. She said only her aunt knew how. I remembered seeing a braiding kit for kids put out by klutz press a while back, so I went in search. It turns out that they didn’t have one so I got her this book. She liked it when I gave it to her. I can’t wait to see her in one of them. She is truly adorable.
Tuesday evening we had a good dinner at Rudy’s Texas Barbecue.
Wednesday I visited a friend who I like to talk technology with. He also is a very devout Catholic so it is a rather interesting mix of conversation. It switches between the nuances of the latest gadets and predictions of where were going to theological discussion points. I just kind of chuckle when I imagine what it might sound like to someone who would be listening to what we were saying.
We agreed to meet for mass at one of the local parishes. I showed up 1/2 hour early in order to introduce myself to the priest and ask him to allow me to concelebrate. Well, the pastor and his associate were not there and there was a visiting priest who would be saying mass. So I got to talk with the business manager and “pastoral associate”. (I will try not to rant about that title and the mess it has created for the church). But anyway they informed me that it is the Diocesen policy to require permission from the chancellor to concelebrate Mass. I said I think you must have misunderstood him. I said I was sure that was for a mass where I would be the principal celebrant. I was not preaching, my participation in no way could affect the validity of the mass etc. They said it is required for the celebration of any sacrament… baptisms, funerals etc. Now I know the funeral isn’t a sacrament, although the funeral mass would be, so I let that go. I said I wouldn’t be celebrating a sacrament because the priest celebrant would. They responded yes but the distribution of Holy Communion… At this point I was a bit stunned and maybe looking a little frazzled… and trying hard not to lose my patience. I said the distribution of Holy Communion isn’t a sacrament. You have lay people do it every week at this parish. The priest can give temporary verbal delegation to someone to do it. But to make things very simply I will just not do it. I just want to celebrate mass as a priest. Look me up in the Kennedy Directory. I offered 10 priests of their diocese they could call to vouch for me and still they weren’t comfortable (man I hate that word). I said I think I can solve this for you. I asked for their fax number. I called my chancery and had them fax a celebret over. If you read the link carefully you will see that it is wholly unnecessary for the celebration of the Mass, and certainly not for concelebration. But now I am just carrying it in my pocket in case I run into any other pastoral associates. They called their chancelor and he said it wasn’t a problem so I got to concelebrate mass. Whew.
Wednesday Night I went to one of my favorite places to eat in Austin and had dinner with a friend and a priest friend from this diocese. They have 25 cent wings. It would be a perfect place for Theology on Tap in this diocese if they ever decided to have it.
Thursday I slept quite late. I really am catching up on a lot of sleep. My friend that I am staying with took his car to work (Normally I drop him off so I can have use of the vehicle… very kind of him). So I was waiting for him to come home at lunch so I could get the car and go to Walmart and get some things I needed (Jeans and shorts etc) for our River trip. Well things got tied up and he didn’t get back until later in the day. So I dropped him off at work and went shopping for the trip. I got the food, plastic plates, etc. I got back and got it packed just in time to pick my friend up from work and head down to Concan Texas. I really love going to the Rio Frio. If I had gotten married I am sure this would have become an annual vacation for my family. We stayed at Neals Lodge and will probably do business with them for quite a while to come. It is a great place in the hill country.
We hooked up with my good buddy Fr. Patrick Serna. We ended up at the same gas station in Hondo or Castroville at the same time. We both said it was Divine providence but were not sure what it meant. Anyway I spotted a guy ahead of me wearing a t-shirt designed by Fr. Bryce Sibley. I thought I would introduce myself. When I tapped him on the shoulder it was Fr. Patrick. It was pretty funny. Fr. Patrick is a great friend and priest. I wish I could see him more often than I do, but I will take what I can get. He is a Texas Good Ole Boy who loves to Hunt. You might have run across an article by him in Catholic Men’s Quarterly.
I introduced my two friends and we headed deep into the hill country and got our cabin. We grilled burgers and stayed up late talking. It was a good evening.
Friday morning we got up and had a nice traditional Texas breakfast of breakfast tacos. Then we got suited up and headed for the river. I was very disappointed to learn that the river was very low and that much of the tubing trip would be spent walking. I love tubing and I only get one shot at it a year since I began the seminary. Unfortunately this was the first year I missed it. We decided that we would just swim in the swimming hole rather than walk our tubes for long portions of the trip. It turns out it was a great decision because the river was very low and people were saying they walked a large portion of the way. The swimming hole at Neal’s is deep and there is a rope swing etc. It was a good time. We spent about 3 or 4 hours there and then cleaned up for dinner. I had catfish at the cafe… another staple from my youth. I need to see if the VFD in my hometown still has All you can Eat Catfish and free bluegrass on friday nights. If so I will make a trip back there sometime. I love fried catfish. Friday evening we talked again and slept. We got a lot of naps and it was very relaxing. I think my lay friend thought it was funny that we slept so much. But both priests were zonked out a lot and we both said “this is what vacation is supposed to be like”. We lose a lot of sleep during the year. The night before I was supposed to leave I was called to the nursing home for someone who was passing away. I got the call at 11pm and I am pretty sure I didnt get to sleep until 3:30am only to be up at 6:30 for the regular Sunday schedule. Sleep is a welcome part of vacation.
Saturday we woke up a bit early because I had to get back for the first communion. We said our goodbyes to Fr. Patrick and headed out. They wanted me there at 4:30pm for a 5pm Mass. I needed to get cleaned up and pick up a few things at Walmart. Upon coming back into cell phone range we found that we both had a few messages on our phone. And then we found out why.. It turns out that I was scheduled to be the celebrant (not the concelebrant) at the first communion Mass and I needed to make sure I had the homily ready. Talk about an eye opener with only a few hours to go. I thought I would just show up… give first communion to Mary Rachel and head out. Well it definitely woke me up and made me a little tense. I wasn’t expecting it but since I had just done 3 first communions and had the readings in the car with me I wasn’t too worried. I mostly thought it strange that I would be giving first communion to kids I didn’t know. Anyway it went fairly well and and after a marathon of pictures… I got back to my friends house for the celebration. That was a lot of fun. Although, once again, I somehow got pegged as Darth Vader. This time was a lot more dangerous because there were about 4 homeschooling families present. That means a lot of kids. And with only 3 real lightsabers around… there were a lot of creative substitutions… some hurt worse than others. I finally was able to convince them to play hide and seek and I would come find them…. boy was it difficult to find them.. I must have sat many minutes thinking about where they might be. During that time the 2 year old who was afraid of me until today, thought it might be neat to touch the ceiling. I obliged him….. evidently once wasn’t enough… How do you say no to a two year old as cute as this. Well the whole kitten kaboodle (sp?) came around the corner to see why I hadn’t found them… and all decided that they needed to touch the ceiling as well…. At about 10:30 the kids were finally going down and I congratulated Mary Rachel again. She said I can’t believe I received Jesus… it still seems like a dream. Beautiful… and fully explains Matt 18:3. Next we went to do our Catholic duty and participate in the othercott.
Sunday is a work in progress… As you might have guessed there was some blessed sleep involved. I have mostly done some reading… Soon I will head out to Barnes and Noble for some reading and tonight a dinner with some priest friends. I am so thankful this is my vacation where I have two weekends in a row. It really makes the second week that much more relaxing because you don’t have to start ramping up in the middle of your vacation.
I will have plenty to do when I get back and will share some of that with you a bit later… until then… time to relax a bit more.