rss feed for a newsreader
rss feed for podcasting

Pentecost XIII

Bishop’s Corner
The cool morning which greeted me upon my return from France this past Wednesday, as well as the calendar itself, call to mind the fading days of Summer, and Fall and school and the new season and year at St. Gertrude the Great which await us.

“What did you do this Summer?” In some ways, it seems to me to have been a very traditional one, with a little change for everybody, a lot of travel, many memories, some rest, and some good done, too, for our Catholics in France. In my sermons as well as my Corner, I’ll tell you about some of my Summer, but I will look forward to hearing about yours as well.

I want to thank our good crew here at Church, especially the Fathers, who covered for me in my absence. Thank you for your interest and prayers and understanding about these long trips. Be sure I prayed for you all, especially at the altar and at the great Marian shrines of La Salette – what a beautiful place, so high and hidden in the French Alps – and at the lesser-known but important shrine of Pellevoisin, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart or of Mercy.

One of the first and most important things I did in France, just after my arrival, was to give a day of recollection for six priests on First Thursday, fittingly enough. Our priests in Europe have a hard and very sacrificial life, and it was good to give them some spiritual refreshment.

I spent the week of the Assumption with the eight sisters at Clos Nazareth, as the Crezan convent is called. For them it was a kind of retreat, with sermons, adoration and conferences. For many years the sisters, who have made many sacrifices to have only a good Mass (not one offered in sacrilegious union with heretics), have not had a regular chaplain but depend on the kindness of passing priests.

We had a glorious Assumption together, with the blessing of herbs and flowers (done there for the first time) and a High Mass followed by the “Procession of Louis XIII,” in which France (this time by an American Bishop!) is traditionally reconsecrated to Our Lady. The procession is done to carry out the vow made by a French King long ago. The Assumption is the patronal feast of the “Eldest Daughter of the Church.” Later there was an elegant meal, something you can always count on in France. The day closed with Vespers and Benediction, and finally with the chant of Compline. I was especially grateful to St. Joseph for the good weather that morning, for rain had been predicted. The afternoon turned hot and humid, but it did not seem to matter after so fine a morning.

During my trip there was as well a wedding at a 12th-Century monastery church at which two “priest sons of St. Gertrude” (in different ways) assisted, Fr. Guillaume Hecquard and Fr. Thomas LeGal. There were long grueling drives to the missions for Masses, six hours or longer in the baking sun all Sunday afternoon, as well as those scary ascents and descents on narrow mountain roads.

On one such trip I visited a nonagenarian (by no means the only one I met in France!) still in good working order, one of the last of the great Catholics of the resistance to the Vatican 2 Revolution. Fr. Avril received us kindly, and even served Fr. Hecquard’s Mass. A nun of the same age is acting superior of the Sisters of the Compassion at Crezan.

This was a particularly non-stop trip, and I look forward to a little rest (maybe!) as I settle into the routine again at St. Gertrude. Enjoy your last week of August, nature’s slow transition to Fall. Some of you will be busy with school already, although our traditional school keeps the traditional post-Labor Day opening.

Do remember to finish this month with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to start September with that same Mother’s loving Heart for First Saturday.

May Our Lady of Mercy be a fount of mercy for you and your family.
–Bishop Dolan