The gap from Tuesday to now tells the tale.
Tuesday was a down day -- almost. Yes, I did spend the morning drinking coffee and writing about the March for Life; but I also had to prepare for a funeral the next day, and visit the funeral home that evening. Not too bad.
Wednesday is usually my stay-home-and-write-my-homily day. This week, I had the funeral in the morning, then to the office for about an hour, then up to Maria Stein for a get-together with other priests ordained in recent years. Father Kyle Schnippel, our vocation director, was there, and he posts on this gathering here (please do go visit his blog and try to think of something nice to say).
Well, parish business finds you wherever: up in Maria Stein, Ohio, cell-phone signals are pretty rare, but one got through to me long enough to tell me about a funeral for Monday. OK.
Thursday. After the morning in Maria Stein, back to the office. Several problems awaited me, which I took a couple of hours to resolve. (You do realize, dear reader, that there are lots of things I never describe here because they involve people's lives and private business? You only get part of the story.) We had a penance service that evening for our children making their first confession, and I went over to church, with our youth minister/coordinator of religious education, to set things up. It was cold in church. We mashed buttons on the programmable thermostat (my idea to lower temp during non-usage times, to save $$$). Came back later, an hour before--it was now colder. Mashed more buttons, flipped the on-off switch, have no idea what I did that worked, but apparently I appeased the thing, so it started giving us heat. I promise never to offend the almighty thermostat again (this is why we keep the thing locked up).
Then I ran over to the other parish, where I had Mass at 6:30. The penance service started at 7. How was I going to manage this, no doubt you are asking. As follows. I had asked the parochial vicar--who isn't feeling well, as you know--if he'd be willing to lead the service. If he hadn't been, I'd have asked the retired priest to do so; but I thought the vicar would want to do it, and he said he would. Meanwhile, I went over and had Mass, but I kept things short. We normally have confessions at that parish, after Mass; I explained the situation in the homily, and said, "I'll happily hear your confessions, but I have to do it at St. Boniface." Some parishioners helped me out by putting things away, turning out lights and locking the doors. Thanks a lot!
I left my alb on, and drove back to St. Boniface. I got there just at 7, ahead of schedule; I figured on showing up a little late, and slipping in. So we all came out for the penance service. (But not before one of my many screwups came back to haunt me. A priest showed up I wasn't expecting. Turned out I'd talked to him, he agreed to come--but I'd totally forgotten to write it down. Boy, was I embarrassed! I apologized every which way, and he was nice about it, and as we really didn't need him, nor did I have a place set up for him to hear confessions, he went home.) Penance Service went fine, this year I didn't wear the cordless mic into the confessional. Unfortunately, our music director fell ill, so he couldn't provide music; our youth minister had to pinch-hit with his guitar, but he did a good job. Our children have things they call "sorry sacks" they wear, with sad faces on one side, and happy faces on the other; when they come out of the confessional, their parents turn them around. Then they go light a candle up front, and everyone gets a rosary, which the vicar blessed at the end. I provided the liturgical dance.
Haha, got you on that one, didn't I!
Here's a subtle thing for you to consider. There is one change I made from last year, in the certificate the children received. I changed the wording from, "____ received the sacrament of reconciliation" to something like, "____ participated in a celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation." Can you guess why?
I was supposed to have a Pastoral Council meeting on Thursday as well; and I very stupidly forgot to advise the president of pastoral council about the conflict until the day before. I told him I'd be willing to meet later, but he elected to cancel it.
Friday again found me running. I had Mass with the older schoolchildren at St. Mary, then immediately left there to head to Lehman High School for Mass there. Kept my alb on, which drew kidding from the priest chaplain when I walked in. I was in such a hurry, I left the vessels on the counter in the sacristy, at church, to put away when I returned, around 11 am. After putting everything away (Don't worry, I purified the vessels at the end of Mass), I met with the parishioner who is overseeing the work on the rectory at St. Mary.
Everything is going well, although it takes time. For example: they found a leak in one of the bathrooms on the second floor, and it was damaging the ceiling below, so that involves two repairs, and it slows the work below. The first floor is coming along nicely, however. What's being done is relatively straightforward: a new, full bath so that the vicar can live on the first floor, some fresh paint in most rooms, and some new carpeting in some rooms. In the front hall, we are taking up the carpet, and polishing the hardwood floor below. Other than some work in two bathrooms upstairs, again it's a matter of fresh paint; as well as some new drapes here and there.
There is also exterior work: new windows, a new roof, and tuckpointing a couple of chimneys, that sort of thing. The latter will cost serious money. But the interior work I described? We are getting it for a ridiculously low amount of money, thanks to several very generous people, who are either donating their own labor, or that of their employees, as well as donated materials.
After that I headed to the office. Realize this is now Friday afternoon, and I've been in the office a total of maybe 4 hours this week. I have stacks of messages, mail and emails. Still haven't written my homily. And I need to call the family about the funeral on Monday. I do reach them, and we agree to meet at 4 pm. So now I have about 2 hours in which to write my homily, while I do three or four other things. Well, I get a good start anyway. I help the family pick the readings for the Mass, as well as the music, and we have a good visit. Then I have a dinner appointment at 6, for which I leave late. Back home by 10 pm.
Saturday: I get to sleep late! So, naturally, I wake up at 7:30 am. The vicar had confessions; I told him I'd gladly take them for him--but he wants to be doing things. So I get to make coffee and drink it, and pray my office quietly, and do a little blogging. In a bit, I'll get cleaned up, head to the office for some appointments, try to refine my homily (it's too long; this may surprise you, but writing lots of words is easy; winnowing them down, down, down to something manageable and focused is what takes a lot of time), before hearing confessions at 3:30 pm, and Mass at 5 pm.