Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

When you enter the shrine at Fátima, you may pass an artifact encased in glass, a section of the Berlin Wall. We met there amid on-again, off-again rain on All Saints Day, uncomfortably near a begging man. I soon learned to keep a few euros in my pockets.

Fátima has become JPII's "place:" the portion of the Wall he's credited with toppling, an imposing monument to his Marian devotion and the keeping of the bullet.

Still, it's its own place. A new church faces the old church across the plaza. A few pilgrims walked on their knees. I didn't think anyone did that anymore. A woman in our group said she has some promises to keep to friends back home. She lit a candle here and again in Lourdes. I suspect she spent the night in the plaza on her knees for her intentions and those of her friends. Some people flip out on pilgrimage. I've seen it happen before. This lady had all the earmarks. She wasn't eating, either.

We entered the beautiful, old church. Presently, a second group came in. They lined up on the altar as if they were posing for a picture. But instead they sang a very beautiful song and their voices filled the air. I lingered to listen as the rest of our group hurried out of the sanctuary. I imagined they'd practiced and prepared for just that moment.

It was late afternoon when the local tour concluded and we had time to shower before mass and dinner. There was more than enough time for that, so I delayed and returned to the square with the local tour guide. She showed me the new church in which mass was being celebrated and the location of the perpetual adoration chapel underground, near JPII's monument. I entered on my own and said a rosary. How many Fridays before I'd thought about praying the Fátima prayer in Fátima!

After a rather long shower at the hotel, I gathered with the others in a conference room off the lobby for All Saints Day mass. We were supposed to hold mass at a chapel near the Fátima church but many pilgrims were already tired and complaining of sore knees. The rainy, slippery conditions caused Father to keep things close, but I was exceedingly disappointed about mass in a dreary hotel conference room with folding chairs, steps from a decades old church in Fátima, Portugal!

At mass, I sat in the back of the room against the wall, in the corner really, and leaned against the wall whenever I stood. Father Williams is charismatic but offered a low-key mass. Father asked for reactions to our trip so far and I shared my experience of praying the rosary, with its Fátima prayer, in the underground adoration chapel. Several asked me after mass where the adoration chapel was located. I took one woman there after dinner.

Dinner was ok. I shared a table with the most cliquish group, a trio from Spring Lake. I was not able to fit in with them and managed to avoid joining their table for the rest of the trip. Except one morning, I had breakfast with the hungover husband, a retired judge. He was mild and polite.

I got out early the next morning and snapped more pictures. The rain had finally stopped. I sampled the water from the faucets, remarkably refreshing. I hadn't expected that. I didn't keep any. Taking my seat on the bus behind Father well before anyone else was on board to leave for Santiago, I asked whether he would hear confessions.

"Of course," he said.

"Tonight, then," I said.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's a busy time of year for everyone.

I missed the ECP's Lessons and Carols last Sunday night because of the Natalie Merchant concert, which was a lesson in itself. And certainly a very good time.

Like Vacation Bible School, "Lessons and Carols" is a suitcase event, a predetermined program that just about anyone can implement. So my own parish put one on last night. In the absence of any alternative, the program is very welcome, indeed. But for the past two years the diocese has held increasingly successful Christmas Carol Festivals. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel, rather use a package deal whenever possible. But I can't understand favoring something Anglican and mainline Protestant over a very similar thing that's diocesan and even homegrown.

The St. Joseph singers had decent voices that were too few in number to fill the church. Granted, their collective sound was better than any of them solo, but another twenty would have sounded better. Three hymns appeared in full in the pamphlet under the heading "ALL," strongly suggesting these were to be sung communally. A woman seated behind me did just that and had an excellent voice. A gentleman seated ahead of me kept glancing back at her with a puzzled look, then whispered something to his companion.

I brought my Bible to the Lessons and Carols in order to follow along with the Scripture readings. Fortunately, I brought the "correct" version as I was able to follow word-for-sacred-word in the ESV I had. Some programs suggests drawing passages from various English translations but the many that stick with just one usually choose the ESV. The final reading was John's Prologue and all the lectors joined in together, so I also read along aloud. It was nice and nearly got to me.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic carnival hosted by Rann at "This That and the Other Thing."

I have two posts about cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy:
Today all the downed branches and trees were picked up from the side of the township's roads. One less reminder.

Click to join sunday_snippets

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The hurricane was followed by a nor'easter snow storm the next week1. The wet, heavy snow brought down an ornamental cherry tree that, to my surprise, had survived the hurricane.

I saw this type of tree down all through the neighborhood and across town. As of Sunday2, these trees are all fully cut down and cleared away. Jeff rented a larger chainsaw than he owns and even cut down a fifth tree that was damaged when a pine tree fell on it. While he worked the chainsaw, I hauled away branches and trunk segments in the lawn tractor's trailer. It was hard work and my arm muscles are still sore. Tree trunks are heavy for their size.

The tree in better days:

1 November 7th, 2012
2 December 2nd, 2012
Three tall pine trees were blown over by Hurricane Sandy Monday afternoon1. The next day we surveyed the damage:

The kids were shocked when they looked out the window at the top of the back staircase and saw a tree resting against it!

We began cutting down that tree because it was also resting on the garage.

And Ella did what she could.

1 October 29, 2012.