I can finally use a COMPUTER to do the update. This is a great luxury, one which I have grown out custom with for the past month. This will allow me to give a more extensive update.
I am actually, currently, writing you from Page, AZ, which borders with Utah. If you have never been, you really must check it out. It is majestic, spectaculour, full of splendour, etc. I am here as there are some new sisters in the Diocese of Gallup who needed to do some training before they started their work in Zuni at one of the Catholic schools. We arrived yesterday and are leaving tomorrow (Wednesday) at around noon.
Our trip here began with a stopover at the Grand Canyon. The priest we are staying with met us in Cameron and we then proceeded to the canyon. Amazing. Words cannot describe. I have some pictures I hope to eventually post online for everyone to see. I had prayed that I would have an opportunity (4 hours is really not that far of a distance) and God provided me with the opportunity. I am the chaufer as the sisters do not drive, which is why I was asked to come with them. We also had lunch overlooking the canyon. It was a great start to the day.
Follwoing that we came to Page where Fr. Tom is located. Fr. Tom is a priest who regularly celebrates Mass for the Missionaries of Charity as he is in Gallup quite often. He has a very dry, deadpan sense of humour but is very much on top of his wit. We have had some great banter back and forth. He has been very hosptible. He even has a dog! Her name is ebony but she is one of the most docile dogs I have ever met and, though nervous around her, I have survived thus far. Thanks be to God!
I woke up this morning and then, after Mass, we were off to Lake Powell. Again, just amazing. For those of you who are into tourism stuff, Powell Lake is a must see. It is a massive lake that has been created by virtue of the dam that was built. It really is worth checking out. We were gifted with lunch and a boat tour, which is no cheap feat! The boat tour would have cost us $70 per person! So we have been very blest.
Fr. Tom’s rectory has a small chapel. A retired carmelite nun (long story) lives with him as she is in need of care. She has a very large collection of relics, over 200! It is really a sight to behold!
We had back to Gallup after Mass tomorrow morning. Thursday I am on the road again as I am driving the priest who is currently staying with me at the shelter back to the airport. He has been leading a retreat for the nuns who are on their sabbatical classes. He has been kind enough to give me the handouts he gives the sisters, and they are excellent.
One of the handouts I found to be exceptionally profound in my spiritual life. It is a reflection on healing wounds and resentments. In it he had one little line that really hit me like a ton of bricks, where he suggests that we contemplate Christ’s side and to go within His pierced side to His Heart and give Him whatever it is we need healing. When I read the word “contemplate” I took it in the Ignatian sense. I thus imagined Christ crucified, with His side already pierced, lying dead on the Cross. I imagine actually reaching my hand inside, what it would feel like, look like. And then I imagined that I had reached His heart, that I had touched His most Sacred and Precious Heart with my hand. It was powerful. To touch the heart of God! That is what we are given the chance to do! We have, perhaps, lost the sense of imagination that is so vital to the spiritual life. God gave me that grace that day to use my imagination in a very powerful way. It is worth contemplating His pierced side, imagining ourselves at the foot of the Cross, imagining the sights, tastes, sounds, smells, etc. What a powerful way for one to be connected with our Lord, to feel in our hearts our love for Him. To touch His heart is one of the great privileges we have as Christians.
Otherwise things have been well. I have been continuing to learn of God’s providence. One Sunday, for example, I was feeling the isolation that is so common here in a very intense manner. I prayed to God for some relief and that evening ended up taking calls from friends and family for well over 3.5 hours!
I am getting to know the people better, as well as the routine. I am really appreciating my distance from technology as it is only training me for the greater detachment I desire in this area. I am realizing I can live without it and can actually function quite successfully without it. So I may be purging my self of certain gizmos upon my return.
I have a spiritual director now and will be meeting him again on Saturday. I am also doing a lot of driving for the sisters. I am loving the work and the time I have to read, sleep, and pray. I have said it before, this is not exactly what I expected, but I am learning how to accept it as God’s will for me and to embrace it totally. That has been very helpful in remaining joyful, especially when I find myself rather bored.
I am getting to meet some wonderful people who come through so often. Tom does some repair work for the sisters. He is a saint of a man. Then there is Mary Anne and Jack who come from Pheonix about once a month and are also a very saintly couple. There is Claire who is a young mother of three and has been here for just about one year. Then there are the priests I have and continue to meet. Not many get the opportunity to meet the people I have had the chance to meet.
The priest here right now is Fr. Cippel from the Diocese of St Petersburgh. Though retired (he has been ordained for 52 years and is nearly 80), he is still very active, especially with the Institute of Priestly Formation located in Omaha, Nebraska. He has just been named a spiritual director at the College Seminary of his diocese and doesn’t look much older than 65. Very holy man. Not as outgoing as Fr. Scott was, but I am learning so much from the wisdom of his years.
I want to say more but must go. God bless.
in Christ through Mary