Some events from today...
Hit the office around 9 am--since I don't come in on Mondays, I had plenty waiting for me. A lot of mail to open and then direct to various folks.
I had to meet a family to prepare for a funeral--the man who died Saturday night--but I had to get some things done in the office first. I usually don't meet with the families myself, although I like doing it; but in anticipation of the day, perhaps not far away, when I will be the only priest here, I decided to recruit and train some parishioners who could do this. But this time, I did it. So I got my list of music suggestions, which I had the music director prepare some time back, and headed over the family home.
We spent about an hour, going over readings, and I explained the way the funeral would go. We went over possible music choices; the family didn't ask for too many things, I explained the meaning of the In Paradisum which is the normative hymn for the procession with the body to the cemetery, so they chose that; they also liked the idea of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin, and they chose black vestments, after I explained the meaning of the options of purple, white and black. Then I asked them to tell me about the man who died, as I didn't know him well, but I explained that the homily is mainly about our Faith, and how Christ acted in the life of the one who died.
Back to the office around Noon, I think, and back to my desk. I got a few things together for the penance service tonight, for the children receiving the sacrament the first time (in preparation for first reception of the Eucharist), and I answered various emails, took a number of calls, signed checks, and opened mail. I had a big pile on my desk and worked on it somewhat. I had a meeting at 2:30 pm with the chairman of our stewardship commission--the purpose of which is to encourage involvement and inculcate a mindset in the parishes that fosters gratitude and a sense of mission, among other things. We were planning a survey we will provide for all parishioners, we hope in February.
I left that meeting around 4:30, and was on my way to the funeral home for the prayers, and I was thinking about my homily at the penance service. I remembered the Gospel was Luke 15, about the lost sheep; and the next parable is the lost coin (and then the lost son, aka the "prodigal" son); so I had an idea for my homily, and turned around and headed to the bank, where I bought ten gold, dollar coins.
Then to the funeral home, where I talked briefly with those who would bring the gifts forward, and the reader, then prayed the prayers with the family. Then I headed home to prepare my homily; at which point, I re-discovered that the coins in Luke 15 weren't gold, but were drachmae, which were silver! Ah well, no one else would know that!
As I'm waiting in the sacristy for the other priests, the coordinator of religious education advised me our retired priest was on his way to Columbus, to visit someone very sick. Oops, I bet he won't make it--five priests scheduled, now four. I explained to the other priests how things would go, and we began the service at 7 on the dot.
Simple service, using one of those Haugen settings of the 23rd psalm--which isn't appropriate for use as the responsorial psalm because it's not a proper translation--as the opening hymn. Seems like a good use to put them to, particularly at a Penance Service. Readings, Gospel, homily. In my homily I talked about the value of the sheep, the value of a coin--about a day's wages--and the most valuable thing is what Jesus goes looking for, us. "This sacrament doesn't make sense if we've never had the experience of being lost, if we've never felt our sins put distance between us and God; but for the rest of us who have been lost, Jesus has found us, right here!" Jesus comes to us, I explained, in the person of the priest. I also recalled baptism, and--keying off Psalm 51, which was our psalm response--the joy given us in the Holy Spirit, and this is restored in this sacrament.
One of the catechists led us in an examination of conscience, then I told everyone where the priest's would be. By that point, the retired priest had shown up! Deo gratias! FYI, every child had the option of confessing anonymously, and all the adults were encouraged to come, which is why five priests was important--they might hold back otherwise.
It was about 8 when I brought things to a close, at which point I blessed the rosaries each of the children had been given, and I greeted everyone I could afterward. Back here by about 8:30 pm, had my dinner, and now I'm writing this post.