Our regular morality posts will resume July 25.
As many of you know from abbreviated posts over the past few days my wife and I are not at home. We attended the wedding on Saturday of my wife's nephew up in Portsmouth, NH. And since my niece is also marrying in a few weeks up north, we decided to take a jaunt into Canada to visit the Maritimes and French Quebec.
There used to be a TV commercial for American Express cards, don't leave home without it. We have our plastic with us, but what we don't have are our passports. We were pretty far along on I-95 in Maine when we discovered this, and I decided we might do well to seek lodging in Bangor, ME, where a 24-hour express delivery might more easily find us.
Our guardian angel back home in Florida went to the trouble of getting past our security and our filing system at home, obtaining the right document, and then rushing to the express office. It appears that the precious cargo will be here before 10 AM tomorrow morning and then we will be off to Nova Scotia. I am happy to note that our guardian angel is a faithful member/reader of the Cafe, proving either (1) reading the daily posts will make you saintly, or (2) only virtuous people are readers. Wouldn't we all agree that the second option is much more likely?
So what do you do with unexpected time in Bangor? When in doubt, go to Mass. Margaret and I attended the 5:30 Mass at St. Teresa's Church in Brewer, ME, last night. St. Teresa's is one of five churches networked into one parish under the title of St. Paul. I picked up a bulletin and read that the pastor, Father Timothy Nadeau, has been reassigned, apparently as a pastor, in Lewiston, ME. (For boxing fans, Lewiston is the site of the second Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight of "phantom punch" fame in 1964, I think it was.)
I have experienced this before; last summer while on Valencia Island in Ireland, it was announced that the two Catholic Churches on the island were closing in two months. And even in Portsmouth this past weekend, the pastor who performed the wedding told us he had just come out of retirement to assume pastorates of two parishes concurrently.
Closer to my own heart, I had a chance to visit Rye Beach, New Hampshire, just south of Portsmouth, on Saturday before the wedding. Years ago the Franciscan friars of my province owned a majestic retreat house about a half block from the ocean. I gave retreats to Catholic sisters there in the summers of the 1970's, and they were among my happiest memories of my youthful ministry. You certainly couldn't argue with the environment; in the still of the evening you could hear the waves crash.
The schedule wasn't bad, either. A conference in the morning, afternoons for the beach, Mass at 5, an evening conference, then recreation, maybe even a bonfire at the beach. I remember, too, the sunrise services by the water that the young sisters enjoyed so much (though the retreat master less so.)
My last retreat there was 1978, just before I moved to Florida. The facility needed costly repairs, there were fewer Friars to staff the facility, and fewer sisters to enjoy the restorative sea air and the congeniality of the friar community. I knew that my order had divested itself of the property, but I returned Saturday with the hope that I might still see the building. I had some trouble getting oriented to the precise spot, but it appears that a very high end home was now sitting on the site. I learned later from the mother of the bride that FIVE such houses were built on the old retreat campus.
The world is changing, the Church is changing, and a lot of me yearns for the old days when you could cross into Canada with a driver's license and a wave.