Rector’s newsletter article for February, 2010

What I did on my winter vacation, and some other stuff . . .

Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul’s:

Our talented and faithful editors, Bob Kearney and Jane Pattison, are assembling this issue of the newsletter during the third week of January, for publication in early February. This year Easter is April 4th, and so we won’t have time to get the Lenten/Easter schedule and memorial envelopes out to the members in the April/May newsletter.  I proposed to the editors that, instead of including the special envelopes in this issue, I would send out a short letter and parish update along with the special envelopes sometime in March. This suggestion was graciously accepted, and I look forward to drafting an Easter message for your consideration at that time.

At present it is the short period after Epiphany. Not properly a “season” in the Church year, but rather another “ordinary time,” not unlike the long period after Pentecost. The period after Epiphany (and before Lent) is not called ordinary because it doesn’t matter. It is ordinary time because it is ordered (scheduled) as a regular period of Christian prayer and formation. The approaching season of Lent carries its own special responsibilities and concerns, but for now we are content to live in ordinary Christian fellowship and in the extraordinary hope of the Resurrection.

Last weekend Marianne and I traveled to Pennsylvania to visit our family. It has proved impossible to arrange time with our family during Christmas, and so we have taken to doing this during the period after Epiphany. I was very pleased to hear that Deacon Todaro conducted the Sunday services, and provided pastoral care, admirably in my absence. In addition to enjoying our family celebrations we had our field spaniel, Oscar (Winfarthing’s Heartsong), entered in a big spaniel show at King of Prussia, PA.

The dog show at the Valley Forge Convention Center was a crazy, loud mixture of various cultures. There was also a professional wrestling & weightlifting event going on just above the dog show, with the sound of 300 lb. barbells (and bodies too?) crashing onto the ceiling throughout.  The hundreds of dogs at the show seemed to get used to it,but I certainly did not.

The way it all worked out was interesting. Oscar went off with his handler earlier in the week. We took our other dog Babette to stay with Maxine Reed, her breeder, at Avalyde Kennel in Kingston, NY, and then we went on to PA without any dogs. At the show itself we hid from Oscar so that he would not be distracted by us.

Our son and daughter-in-law, Bill and Cheryl were able to attend, as well as our youngest grandson, Dylan. At age nine, Dylan had never attended a dog show, and was both enchanted with the dogs and fascinated with all the intense grooming and training that such an event requires. Maxine had already sent one of her best dogs, Benny (Avalyde Last of the Big Spenders), and Babette’s half brother, off with another handler.

Well, as it happened, Benny, now two and a half, won over Oscar in the open dogs class, thereby completing his Championship, Oscar came in second and then took Reserve Winners, a very good showing in such a prestigious event. Oscar did a little ‘jump & spin’ on the diagonal walk up and back, and I’m certain this did not endear him to the judge. He’s only 14 mo. old, and still somewhat puppy-like. He gets another chance to finish his Championship the third week in February at a show in Hartford, CT.

Sunday, I took my mother, Joy, to church and lunch. Joy attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Locust Street. Philadelphia. The church is a venerable old Anglo-Catholic parish. The Wanamaker Lady Chapel altar is a famous showpiece. Installed in 1909, it is solid silver, and depicts numerous scenes from the bible in bas-relief. The Sunday Mass was very elaborate, with a deacon, sub-deacon, thurifer (lots and lots of incense!), crucifer, and acolytes. Most of the service was sung, including the Gospel lesson. It was nice just being in the pew with my mom. We went out to lunch at the Monk’s Cafe where we always go to have a pot of mussels and beer.

After our lunch I drove to the show, and picked up Marianne, Benny and Oscar. We stayed overnight in Warminster, PA with our children and grandchildren. Dylan all but shared the crates with Oscar and Benny, he so loved having them visit. Oscar was NOT cordial to Benny (sore loser?), and so we had to keep them separated. The last thing we needed was for these two gorgeous show dogs to get in a fight! The next day we returned to Kingston to take Benny back to Avalyde Kennel, pick up Babette, and then home to Troy.

How’s THAT for a relaxing four day winter vacation!?!?!

Blessings, Fr. Michael


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