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Thursday, April 28, 2005

I'm Baa-ack!

The trip to Beaumont was incredible! We had such a great time on our road trip, though we were a bit giddy after over 19 hours on the road when we stopped for breakfast in Santa Clarita. If any of the people from the Marie Callendar's near Magic Mountain read this blog, I promise I'm not that punch drunk in real life. I had only slept about an hour, and in 10-15 minute increments.

It was a whole lot of fun, though. We ladies in the car had a great time avoiding all of the crazy California drivers and told stories, sang songs and made jokes of just about everything. When we arrived, after showering and resting a bit, we had our first session with one of our bishop's wives, and she was just a kick in the pants, as well as a blessed woman of God. She had so much to teach us, and in a way that was humorous and accessible. Archbishop Adler's wife also spoke over the weekend, and she was tons of fun as well. I have copious notes from all three sessions, from the sermon from Saturday's mass and the sermon from St. Michael's Cathedral on Sunday.

We stayed an extra night so we could attend mass at the cathedral. We thought we were about 45 minutes to an hour away at the resort, but were actually almost two hours away. A woman from St. Michael's, who didn't know any of us, let us stay at her home while she was away, left the door unlocked and a key for us, told us to use whatever we wanted and left a kind note. She had beds ready for us, and an extra mattress on the floor in her library, and we had been ready to camp out on the floor. Her home was beautiful and she displayed a generous spirit, and her home was all hospitality. She has written a couple books, search on Star Parker. Her life could easily be called tragedy, aside from her earlier difficulties, she had a daughter die at 14 within the last two years and her husband left and was defrocked, but she lives as one who triumphs. We learned a lot from her simply by her act of kindness to us (which saved us money from the hotel, gas, and the time for the drive) and how her home was decorated, the books she had to read, I copied titles down to search for when I arrived home.

The worship, both on the retreat and at St. Michael's, was glorious. It was just beautiful, and awe-inspiring, and I feel privileged to have been able to join in. What struck me the most was how many men were in the congregation at St. Michael's. With the feminization of the church in the West, it was inspiring to see so many men, young and old, single and married, worshiping and praising God. One of our priests, back home, said that it was largely because we have a church that allows men to be men, and doesn't teach that their maleness makes them bad, or less than women, from the start. I think there is some validity to this. Rich, Fr. Joseph, Fr. Jonathan and Will: Thank you for taking the time off work, and staying home with our children so we could go on this trip. Thank you for being men, the way men are supposed to be, and leading our homes as servants.

I loved all the families, and big families we met with, lots of families with five, six, seven, eight and one with eleven children (this all through c-section, she used to be in the world book of records). So many pregnant ladies, so many babies, and good husbands who loved being fathers. St. Michael's is in a not so great neighborhood, and it has cleaned up in the years since the church started there. The police have taken the time to thank the church for their presence and especially because of their statue of St. Michael casting out Satan from Heaven. It is lit with a spotlight which shines from the ground, and casts a shadow of the statue about 30 feet high on the roof of the church, and the police say that they take great comfort in it, when making their patrols, as he is the patron saint of police officers.

Anyway, within the next few days, I will post some of the pictures of our trip and Star's home, but only if you promise not to comment on what my thighs look like in them. We had a great time, and even got to shop at Velona and the Weaver's Cottage. What fun! Our trip back was also a riot, although we all took shorter turns driving, and even after leaving San Clemente late Sunday afternoon, we made it back home by 3:30 on Monday, refreshed, renewed, and ready to be with our families again. We are so ready to go again next year!

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