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Pentecost XVIII

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
What a rocky ride we’ve had this past week to arrive at today’s Autumn Equinox, the start of Fall, heralded calmly by our Ember purple and penance and prayer. Last weekend’s twin feasts of the Holy Cross and the Seven Sorrows brought clear dry days, sunny under a blue heaven. Rain only teases us with a drop or two, and Summer heat and humidity come and go, afflicting us perhaps one last time.

Still, the weather was perfect for our peace procession on a blessed Friday the 13th. Fifty-three faithful joined our three Fathers, as Fr. McKenna led us in the fifteen decades, our prayers blending with the sunset to make for much beauty. Our Lady’s image was ingeniously lighted against the encroaching darkness. Peace, for a time, seemed assured.

Our parish picnic was sweet indeed on another beautiful day. The buffet groaned under a veritable abundance of creative salads and enticing desserts, making for an irresistible “two-plate picnic.” I never manage to say hello to everyone, but it seems everyone had a good time, as many came and went all afternoon. The children organized themselves into games right away, and Marlys’ unique piñata challenged them all before yielding its treasure. My sincere thanks go to Mark for all of his work, shopping and grilling, and to all of you who came and had a good time on a fine Fall afternoon.

While our parish and its many activities are for people, our little furry friends seem irresistibly drawn by them as well. The pious Puccini instinctively bounded over to join our procession to the grotto for the Nativity of Mary. Only his innate modesty and love of solitude stopped him in his paw prints from joining the crowd in honoring Our Lady.

Caravaggio regularly waits for me outside the Convento after dinner, eager to go to church for the evening visit to the Blessed Sacrament. The first squirrel I’ve ever seen here, and a baby one at that, was camped out in the vestibule the other Friday morning. The intrepid Miss Mikesell scooped up the little rodent and marched off to show her students her new prize, later to be restored to liberty and perhaps its mother.

Even a pair of rascally raccoons, returning late for their dawn curfew from the rounds of our garbage cans, strolled recently into the high grass behind the rectory at 8:00 one morning.

The groundhogs are grown up and settled in for the season now, probably awaiting their moment of glory on Candlemas. I wonder what Fr. Larrabee would have to say? We do, however, keep his erstwhile successor, Fr. McKenna, busy about many things. Luncheon preparations on the 13th yielded a clogged sink, and our junior priest morphed into a plumber for the occasion, saving us some money and restoring the life of the rickety old disposal. (Be sure to hear the whole story of our “priest cum plumber” at the Rosary Confraternity Communion Breakfast on Rosary Sunday – tickets on sale today!) Special thanks to Katie for coming down from the sacristy to the kitchen for the cleanup. You never know what the day holds for you at St. Gertrude the Great.

Fr. McGuire was under the weather last week with a virus, and I had my “September sickness.” Some years when the weather is very good, the allergies are especially bad. We are grateful for the presence and assistance of the young Fathers. Old Father Cekada is scurrying off to our almost full seminary this afternoon for his first teaching week. His weeks, with choir, organ and finances, e-mails, and speaking and writing for the Faith, tend to be rather full all year round.

There are some new names on our roster of church volunteer cooks, the Cucina Clerical. We are grateful! As well, Fr. Lehtoranta has gotten himself a cookbook and done several creditable meals so far. Fr. McKenna is always ready for the grill, Lawrence-like. The rest of us just eat, but all of us are grateful.

Grateful, too, are we to hear that Isaac Kitchen, who grew up at St. Gertrude the Great, and is now in the Navy working at the Washington Navy Yard, was spared in last Monday’s attack. These tragedies touch us all in different ways, as do the depredations of different kinds of illness. It was gratifying to see so many come to the Communion rail last week, seeking solace and healing through Our Mother of Sorrows.

The last of Our Lady’s September feasts, of Ransom or of Mercy, falls on Tuesday. Next Sunday’s Michaelmas ushers in the month of the angels. In between we honor our own North American Martyrs.

How proud we should be to be Americans, despite our country’s shameful culture and degenerate sins on a global scale. This land is soaked with the blood of priest-saints from Tampa Bay to Albany, and New Mexico to Kansas. Our Lady has claimed it for her own long before the Protestants came to pollute it. She fulfills the promise of her title Conquistadora, gently, mother-like, conquering and re-conquering this land consecrated to her Immaculate Conception.

I send a blessing with this good Mother and gracious Queen of ours.
– Bishop Dolan