Friday began my vacation; funny how work sometimes follows.
Earlier this week, the boss (I'll let you speculate about who that might be) and I nailed down a date for a meeting--to be held not long after I get back from my vacation; so Thursday afternoon and evening, I'm shooting out emails. No problem. But I'll have to send out some more emails in the next couple of days, once I hear from the boss about who needs to be there. Hint: if you're a priest of the archdiocese, and you'll be a pastor the first time this summer, I've already got a meeting scheduled for you! But the announcements of new assignments will be made this weekend, so I'm not privy to that information.
Oh, and there's an item to be written for the "Clergy Communications" bulletin that goes out once a month. I'll get that taken care of Monday or Tuesday. But it's OK. I'm pretty relaxed already.
From Cincinnati I drove down I-71 to Louisville, then took the turnoff for I-65, which brought me to central Alabama. I'm staying a couple of days with the community of Our Lady of Angels Monastery, which was founded by Mother Angelica. The monastery offers hospitality to priests, either for a retreat or--as in my case--for someone passing through.
The monastery is situated on several hundred acres of farm- and wood-land; the center of the community is the Shrine of the Most Holy Eucharist, which you may have seen on TV. Anyone can visit. Last night, after dinner, a couple of seminarians (who are on their way back to their diocese in the southwest) and I took a walk around, and found our way down to the shrine. The building, and the piazza in front of it, have a Spanish look to it, we decided (at breakfast, I learned it was modeled after the basilica in Assisi). The chapel itself is stunning. I'll be back at Noon today for Mass, although that Mass will be in a different chapel. The Mass in the main chapel is at 7 am; I chose the "slugabed" option of the Noon Mass to concelebrate. (There is also a chapel in the monastery, where I could offer Mass privately if I wished.)
There are actually three communities here: the sisters who are cloistered, the friars, and the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, with whom I'm staying. Their mission is to support and protect the shrine. I've had a chance to talk with several of the young men who are here as postulants and aspirants--meaning they are discerning whether to take vows as a member of the community.
Just now I was out on a walk after breakfast, and I stopped to look at the horses and cows. The postulants told me they are actually steers, being raised for beef; and there are chickens about as well.
I'll be with these good fellows until tomorrow morning, when I head south--I'm headed toward the gulf coast, where I will spend a few days on the beach, despite being extremely prone to sunburn. If you are out and about along the beach, and you see a large, beached aquatic mammal with an umbrella, it may be me.