Last week ended well enough - given the circumstances - with a very quiet and peaceful Sunday evening.
I celebrated the usual two Masses that morning - which ordinarily leave me rather tired - and baptized a boy after the second the Mass. After that Mass I ate a sandwich and prepared for our second graders' First Confession.
After my homily (about the Prodigal Son) in which I encouraged the children to make this the first of many confessions throughout their lives and invited their parents to return to the Sacrament, I said someting along these lines: "If the children would please come forward to lead us in an examination of conscience." That was a mistake. Never let someone without direct experience with children say anything like that without first being coached.
At my invitation, all of the second graders - forty plus! - began to get up and make their way toward the sanctuary. One of their teachers said to me - not quite frantically, "Only the ten who are supposed to read something, Father." Oops. Somehow it was all straightened out and all went well afterwards.
Thanks to the generosity of my brother priests we had five confessors in all that afternoon and I'm told that nearly everyone present received the Sacrament. Praise God!
It was my first time presiding over a First Confession and not a bad experience, all in all.
I was quite worn down afterwards and retired to the rectory for what I hoped would be a quiet evening. It was.
Yesterday, being the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, found me quite busy teaching two classes and celebrating three Masses. My energy reserves bottomed out just before the third Mass began; it was all I could do to make it through. The end of the day came for me at 8:00. I simply could not make it any longer.
So far today I have only celebrated one Sacrament, which has helped a bit toward a recovery a strength. Unfortunately the weather has not cooperated. On the day when our governor was arrested, the temperatures reached 58 degrees and tonight they are supposed to drop into the 30s, with sleet and snow a possibility in the morning. Sunday is supposed to be in the upper fifties again. I will go to bed early again tonight.
To be on the safe side - and in hopes of recovering a bit more strength yet - I cancelled a Bible Study this evening at our mission parish. I really didn't want to cancel it but I also wasn't sure if I'd be functioning by the time it was to start.
Tomorrow will find me celebrating one Mass in the morning, followed by two hours of confessions for the gradeschool. In the afternoon I need to write a homily for a funeral on Thursday (which has pushed three hours of confession from Thursday to next Wednesday afternoon). After wrestling practice tomorrow afternoon, I am to drive to Pana, Illinois - some thirty minutes away - to help hear confessions there. We'll see how the roads are and how the weather treats my body.
As I'm finding the end of my energy reserves, my Pastor is continuing his slow recovery. If all goes as planned and his strength returns he'll be ready to begin public ministry again on Monday. No one will be happy at his return than me!
That reminds me: tomorrow I'll have to reschedule an appointment on Monday with my rhuematologist (arthritis doctor) in St. Louis for the third time now (first for two funerals and now just to be safe).
Though my body is weak and run down, my spirit is good. By God's grace and your many and welcome prayers, the sacramental ministry of the parish has continued. Naturally, this is the most important function of a priest. Please continue raising your prayers heavenward and be assured of my remembrance in prayer of you.