I'm on vacation; posting will be whimsical--i.e., if I feel like it and have a connection at the same time.
Friday night I attended the Bishop Fenwick Dinner at our seminary in Cincinnati; I stayed the night, enjoyed visiting with some of the seminarians. I had Mass at 8 am with a deacon and several seminarians assisting me in the beautifully renovated Immaculate Conception Chapel. After breakfast, I hit the road for Tennessee and Georgia.
While driving through Tennessee, I thought, there has to be confessions somewhere along I-75 between 3-5 pm; so I stopped at McDonalds for lunch, looked it up on Masstimes.com and sure enough! The web site has a very handy map application that works great for travelers: just move down the route you plan to go, and churches will show up as little flags with links to more information. I'd like to see that application for other uses, such as concert venues, historical sites, and restaurants. (Yes, I know that Yahoo does this, but I don't think it's sorting is very helpful.)
So at 3 pm I pulled off I-75, in Farragut, Tennessee--south of Knoxville--and wow, what a church! Just completed a few years ago, it is built in a classic basilical style, lots of beautiful artwork. Whoever helped design the stained glass windows--I'm not sure if they were all new, or if some were from an older church--did an outstanding job. Thanks to the presence of a nice line for confessions, I had time to contemplate them. (Hint: this is one of the main reasons for representative art in a church--it's not a frill; it aids people's prayer and faith.)
After receiving the sacrament, I got back on the highway--now clogged due to an accident--and made my way to Atlanta, where I attended a concert. No, not the Eagles concert I hoped for. Either I'd made a mistake on the day, or else the one I was sure was also on Saturday was cancelled. Either way, no Eagles! (Some parishioners got wind of my interest, and that I thought the ticket too pricey, and they gave me money for it on my birthday! So I promise, I'll use that money for concerts while I'm travelling! Thank you so much!)
Instead, I saw a concert with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and Spectrum, performing Motown songs. It was great! But I was sitting with a bunch of squares who barely moved a muscle; it wasn't till near the end of the concert that anyone really got juiced up. The two nice ladies to my left must have disliked the music; they didn't return after the intermission.
I left Atlanta about 11 pm, and drove about an hour to get close to Macon, where I planned to take part in Mass this morning.
Today I joined Father Allen McDonald and his parishioners at Saint Joseph's Parish in Macon. What a stunningly beautiful church! Father has worked hard to cultivate a sound ars celebrandi--as described on his blog, Southern Orders, and it shows. He gave a very good homily explaining very plainly the hard truths implicit in the Gospel image of our Lord as the Vine, and our relationship as either living--or dead--branches. He laid it out: when we set aside what the Church teaches, when we fail to observe the Lord's Day in participating at the Mass, we aren't good Catholics, no matter what our own opinion says; it's what Christ says. And he made clear that the ultimate peril is "damnation" (he used the word--twice!). He said that as Catholics, when we share our faith clearly and without hesitation, we help our fellow Catholics revive their faith. What if our statements give offense? They may, he said, but better to give offense than to let someone go to hell. Hoorah!
After many nice conversations after Mass, I stopped at Mickey D's for coffee--too late for breakfast!--and to post this and check some things online.
Next stop? Stay tuned...
Update: stopped for lunch, checking things: Father McDonald blogged about me on his blog, which is now linked on the side. And to all the nice folks in Macon...why do you have a Pio Nono Avenue? That is pretty cool--and pretty unexpected!