It's not the first time I have had to use the title "Catching up," but I hope to have some real "catching up" time next week, after I give the morning retreat at St. Paul's in Joliet on Saturday. Part of my catching up involves actually writing one of the talks for that retreat. (Writer's block, anyone?)
Sr Irene and I spent the weekend at St. Josaphat's Basilica in Milwaukee. I gave one of my St. Paul talks to a very appreciative group (many Secular Franciscans among them) and then we had a book display for the parish Masses. Even though the parish has a gift shop, and there is another religious gift shop across the street, neither one features many books (yet), so we weren't duplicating any efforts. In between times, I kept running into the magnificent Church to take pictures (250 of them!). Honestly, their website doesn't do it justice, but I suppose that's inevitable.
Besides being recently renovated, so that the 100+ year old Church looks brand spanking new, the parish is alive in its beautiful liturgies, with a well-trained choir and great preaching, plus a number of groups, from the women's book club to social outreach in the area.
I was mostly impressed with the Conventual Franciscan community. The priests and brothers (three of the four are named Jim) are solid without being all goopy about it. They were really an uplifting example to me of a healthy religious life, lived in genuine spirituality.
St. Paul gives us his own example in today's first reading. I suppose the most impressive part of the reading, at first glance, is the fact that he survived a stoning! Did he play dead? At any rate, when the local believers gathered around him, perhaps starting to mourn, he got up. Next day he was on his way to another locale, where he told the community to expect similar hardships if they wanted to enter the kingdom of God. To me, this little line is yet another sign of how reliable the Acts of the Apostles is in its account of Paul's teachings, because in the earliest of his letters (1st Thessalonians), dated somewhere around 49 A.D., Paul refers to what he said while among them a year or two earlier: Christian discipleship would entail hardships. (Among them, trying to get caught up?)