Friday, February 18, 2005

I have been rather busy here in the parish, thus the reason for being quieter, even on the comments boards, than usual. Not only have I been catching up on all that I had to postpone due to my illness, but February already had a bunch of stuff.

First there was the "surprise" Catholic Schools' Week Mass for all 1100 students in our High School. Yes, it was a surprise. We had asked the HS campus minister what was planned for Catholic Schools Week, but he never got back to us until the Friday before when he said that he had, without consulting the HS chaplain nor any of the parish priests, planned a Mass in the gym for the entire school for the following Wednesday (both the chaplain's and my day off). He said the time was non-negotiable, so if we could not do it he would just lead a prayer service. I'm not the chaplain, nor the pastor, so I will let them address the inappropriateness of treating the priests as his flunkies who will just jump whenever he calls.

The next day was St. Blaise so I had to be at all three Masses (starting at 6:25 a.m.; yes, THAT IS early), plus bless the students and staff in both schools. While it made for a very long day, I did enjoy going to the pre-school, telling them about St. Blaise, demonstrating the blessing on their teachers, and then watching the young ones come up for a blessing. Some were very excited, others were nervous but you could see them screwing up their courage. They were very cute.

The following Saturday was first Penance. Due to the number of children we had two sessions. I was the celebrant for both. The teachers and parents, and children, really enjoyed it. Yes, enjoyed it. I receive many compliments, and one letter, from parents for how well I put the kids at ease. Several kids asked afterwards if they could come back to Confession again soon. One surprising discoveries since becoming a priest is that I have a gift for working with children. As a psychologist I was not very comfortable doing therapy with children, but I do seem to be able to bring the Faith to a level that children understand, and even can get excited about. And I don't do anything silly. Only for the first Children's Mass did I use one of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses for Children. They truly are TERRIBLE! Not again! I generally do not even use the Lectionary for Masses for Children because I do not think it is necessary.

Ash Wednesday was another LONG day. Five Masses and four services. I steadfastly would NOT give ashes to people who did not come to a Mass or service, and when I preached at Mass I told them that if they left after receiving ashes, before receiving the Eucharist then they were acting just like the people Jesus criticized in the Gospel. That the ashes were merely a reminder that without God we are nothing, but that the Eucharist IS God. I even made the front page of the local paper.

I started training the new Altar Servers, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, in addition to the typical activities of a priest. I even got paid as a writer for the very first time; for an article I wrote which appeared in the February issue of Homiletics and Pastoral Review. I have been published before, but I was surprised that someone would actually pay me for something I wrote.

Sunday, after the 7 a.m. Mass I am off for some R&R. A week of no phone calls. Of relaxing and reading and sleeping. YEAH!

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