last week i visited my claretian communites, some friends, and witnessed a wedding in LA.
i had the wonderful chance to catch up with another ex-claretian volunteer, eileen. she is perhaps the most organized person i’ve ever know. she has that gift since for many years she has kept the LA archdiocese chancery operating at optimal capacity. eileen updated me on now the detention ministry is going in LA. whenever i go back into ministry, i would be very interested in jail/prison ministry. just hearing about those possibilities gets my ministerial energy going!
on friday, i picked up my good buddy mark from LAX. he flew down for the wedding too. we went straight for in-n-out. the double-double animal style burger with raw onions plus animal fries and lemonade is fast food heaven to me! then we went to my favorite LA beach — venice– strolled around and a beer and had a kick back afternoon. when i lived in long beach in the 2000s, i would bring my djembe to venice on my day off and hook into the drumming circle there. i love playing percussion– more than the guitar. there is something very powerful about drumming. it is primal to our earth. ahhh, maybe i’ll join the circle again in the future sometime.
after venice, we went to LMU for the wedding rehearsal. gorgeous chapel! the jesuits recently put in a new carved wooden platform for the altar. i asked the bride christine and groom kevin if they wanted to do something fun for the homily during the wedding: in four words, describe how they are feeling sitting in front of everyone just minutes before their vows. i am glad they said yes. now they were prepped. the rehearsal dinner was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with folks i had not seen in a while and eat tacos!
the wedding on october 16th was a real celebration of love. i joked to the couple during the homily that christine would need special graces for marrying a long suffering mariners fan! for the homily, i focused on the words from the vows; suggested that kevin and christine repeat them to each other on their anniversaries. and leave their future seven kids at home!
i have known kevin, the groom, since he was born. his father jim was a dear friend of mine since childhood. jimmy and i used to play basketball when i was in grade school. as the decades flowed and we talked sports, he knew more about the sonics than i did! we called each other god-brothers. jimmy was so easy-going, laughed readily, and had a special joyful aura about him that made you feel like he was your best friend. when he died a few years ago from a brain aneurysm, it devastated so many of us– especially jimmy’s wife and three kids. i had never seen st edwards filled with so many people for his funeral mass. for those who knew him and went to kevin’s wedding, we could not help but think that jimmy was really present too. when we prayed for jimmy during the intercessions, the Spirit tugged at our hearts.
is not this one of the gifts of eucharist? we are mysteriously one in the unity that comes from Christ as our head in this Body of Christ. is this not the deeper meaning of love that is so graciously showered upon us? when we remember and pray for those who have died, is this not a way to continue to love them even though they are no longer on this earth? is not their intercession for us, their way of continuing to love us?
the wedding reception was a continuation of the celebration. i had a shot of crown royal and smiled in jimmy’s memory. the music was good too; it seems like years since i have danced! i was honored to pray the benediction and be included with kevin’s bachelor party buddies with this jersey with kevin’s blog logo from yesteryear:
for the past three years in seattle, i preside few masses on sundays. when i do preside, the words resonate in my bones in unique ways that i cannot explain. maybe someday i will better understand this time in my life– the Spirit is stirring my heart and mind in new ways. on sunday morning, i presided mass for my claretian brothers at dominguez. when i looked up from the dominguez altar, this stained glass of the immaculate heart of mary from the back of the chapel is what filled my vision:
we strive to be sons of the heart of mary!
i do know that it is during mass that i am truly thankful for the graces in my life: my nieces, josie my sister-in-law, my friends and my mother. i am ashamed of the times that i cannot be patient with her and forget that she is a different version of herself now. i shudder to think what would be happening to us if my nieces were not here to do their part in helping their grandmother and me.
i am experiencing grace in different ways now. this six day trip to LA was a providential grace for me and i am thankful from the bottom of my heart
I love this post Art. I am so glad you had a great trip. I did not know Jimmy but feel like I did. Or should.
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kathleen, thanks for reading it! the trip whetted my desire for full time ministry anew. being in seattle these past three years has seemed like a giant pause in my life. sometimes i ask myself, “who are you?” care-giving has forced me to examine my deficiencies in a new light.
and jimmy– you would have absolutely loved him. i did not write this about him: he was the most versatile and gifted liturgical pianist i have ever encountered. he could play everything and work with vocalists– concert as well as sunday mass hacks– as well as come up with spontaneous instrumentals to fill in silence if needed. jimmy was like brother to me.
I believe you have a deserving heart Fr. Art!
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thanks for the vote of confidence! i believe your observation but at times i do question my heart. maybe it is a changing heart because of my current circumstance… let’s continue to pray for each other don!