Friday, June 1, 2007

June 1 - One Day Until the End

Today was the penultimate day of the Chapter. There were no sessions in the Aula Magna. Instead, the concentration was on meetings of the various Regions, both independently and with the new Councillors.

The day began with our last language group liturgy. The English group had what might be called a "casual" Mass, with us sitting in our CIL Chapel with a small altar. We pretty much sat throughout the Mass, which included a shared homily. The Gospel was about the cursing of the fig tree, and the most interesting comment for me came from Br. Anton de Roeper who said that he noticed that the fig tree outside of the kitchen was producing fruit from its new branches, not from the older more established branches, as had been the case in the past. I took this as a metaphor for what was happening in the Institute, and a good commentary on the future envisioned by this Chapter.

While the various Regions were meeting, I kept working on the program for tomorrow. Lots of details involved in something like that, and although it's a chore, by now I'm sort of relaxed about the whole thing and take things in stride. This was tested about an hour ago when I found out that our celebrant had prepared his homily on the readings of Trinity Sunday. (It's deja vu all over again.) This was exactly what I had feared, and it's the reason I had asked a while back that he be contacted to make sure he had the right readings. But I was assured that he had the right readings and all was fine. Not true. And now that it's the last minutes, WE again have to change to accommodate the homily. So the last hour has been spent changing the readings at the Mass from the ones I had chosen (according to our Exodus theme, etc.) to the ones of the day, which are far less significant for the occasion. But I don't have much choice. Although I'm disappointed, I'm not really surprised.. Just sort of sad that it all happened again despite my best efforts to avoid exactly this problem. Also, the readers for the liturgy, who will be doing it in Portuguese and an African language have to hunt down the new reference in time for the Mass. It just shakes everything up and is not very comfortable. But, as I said, by this time I'm less worried about it than I would have been five weeks ago. Go with the flow seems to work - something to do with Providence.

This afternoon, Br. Gerard Rummery gave a presentation on the online Lasallian Leadership course that his District has developed and one where he's had a great amount of input and influence. It's a marvelous program, allowing Lasallians anywhere to gain credit, knowledge, and real appreciation for our heritage through an online medium. It's definitely the way to go, and I hope that it grows by leaps and bounds.

At 5 PM we had our large group pictures. Throughout the day, Br. Roch had been taking pictures of the various regional groups. This would be the large group one. He had worked hard to find somewhere other than the front steps to take the pictures. Everyone takes pictures on the front steps. They have got to be the most photographed front steps in the Lasallian world. Instead, we used the grassy area between some of the building, which made for a much better shot, especially since he took the picture from a higher elevation. When we began the process, it drizzled for a while and threatened to rain, but soon things cleared up and we had a nice overcast sky that would remove any harsh shadows that direct sunlight often causes in pictures.

This evening, the USA/Toronto Region had a dinner in one of the smaller dining rooms to honor Bill Mann as he finished as Vicar General and moved back to his District on the East Coast (Long-Island New-England District). We also honored Br. Miguel Campos, although he couldn't stay the whole evening since the Spanish Brothers were having some kind of dinner as well. Br. Alvaro joined us for the social and then left for the other celebration. At the end of dinner, there were some very fine words from VBr. Tom Johnston, the new Vicar General, about the influence that Bill has had both here and beyond. And Bill of course spoke quite eloquently and sincerely about his experiences here and looking forward to, in effect, being without a job for a while after 25 years of hard work. He said that he was happy with the fact that he did everything that he was able to do while here in Rome, and that he did it as well as he was able to do it. He had no regrets.

After the dinner I returned to my "office" to finish up my work for the day. But, the best-laid plans of mice and men... And so I've had to do those last-minute changes to the program for tomorrow. But perhaps that's all as it should be. I know that I'll live longer if I don't worry about the things that I cannot change, change the things I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference between the two (Yes, somebody else said that first).

One thing that I do know is that after tomorrow I don't want to prepare, help prepare, think about preparing, vaguely reflect about preparing, or be asked, cajoled, ordered, or persuaded to prepare another liturgy for quite a while, if not longer. I'm taking a liturgical hiatus, which will probably be good for my soul.
More pictures from today at