Every now and then, I have tangible evidence that the congregation is listening to my homilies. Sometimes the faithful remember homilies that I forget rather quickly. And I'm sure, some are more or less worthy of memory than others! Here's a few examples of your listening ears:
Two years ago - I mentioned just in passing that en route to the Twin Cities, I stop off in Abbotsford for ice cream. Honestly, I not really into sweets all that much, but this is the only place besides the Abbey kitchen on solemnities that I can find black licorice ice cream. It's out of this world!!! During these next two Saturdays, I will be in Minneapolis for pastoral obligations. You can only assume what will be the only stop to and from the cities.
Somehow, Cody Craig's sweet mom, Cindy, remembered me making a comment on the, "I break for ice cream" homiletic interlude. So, a couple of weeks ago, she purchased a quart of Kemp's licorice ice cream. She packed it up and stuffed it in a cooler and Cody took on the role of the ice cream delivery guy and brought the gift to the priory. (Although, I do not remember the obnoxious ice cream truck carnival music being cranked from his car.)
While I am very grateful for Cindy's consideration, I am not happy to report that I ate the whole thing in just one sitting. What a great way to cool off during the summer. But trust me, I'm still working it off!
Then there were the back and neck issues that have plagued me all summer long. While I wrote about it here, I did not say much about it at Mass. People noticed, nonetheless. In fact, today was the first time I raised the Book of Gospels to full stature. Thankfully, it's getting better.
But back in June, it didn't look better! The Bortel's noticed immediately. And guess what? The next week they brought to Mass a brand new pillow for me. This thing is great! It's part air, part feathers, part WATER! Yes, water! There's a little spout in part of the pillow that you pour water into so that it forms around your neck -- just like the picture above. As I toss and turn during the night, I can hear the rush of the waves as I do so. It's just like lying on the beach -- but totally different! I hope it doesn't sound strange, but I think of Gina's delightful parents each night amidst the waves of her parents' gift to me. All remembered when I needed a little TLC the most!
Other gifts have popped up as well: kohlrabies are often placed at the door (another favorite) and even Best Buy gift cards appear every now and then. Once at Lourdes, I preached a homily on a song that really moved me -- and later, the congregation as well. I mentioned flippantly that the homily cost me $17.99. The next week, several envelopes stuffed with $17.99 arrived at the Monday morning collection. ....Just think of how I could have "Advanced the Mission" with that approach! Further, I am aware that Peggy often sabotages my office in ways that reflect points made in the homily. I'm always surprised by such random acts of goodness, yet I am often embarrassed by receiving such kind pieces of so many of you.
In conclusion, I thank you all for such generosity -- I hope it never comes off as though I am begging during the homily. Subliminal advertising? Perhaps! But let's remember also how many times I have referred to Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators... ... ... Oops, there I go again!
So for all you do, but more importantly for all you are, thanks for "giving it a shepherd's care!"
Father James Baraniak, O. Praem.