a wedding…

Last night I helped to officiate at my first liturgical wedding. My cousin Justin was married – the girl he married is Catholic, & wanted to get married in the church she grew up in… her CCD teacher (Deacon Bob) & I were chosen by to be the officiants, with both of us representing the ‘faith traditions’ that the blissful couple had grown up with.

About a month ago, Deacon Bob & I got together to work through the ceremony, & also for a crash course for me – so I could know what elements of the ceremony were a part of the requirement of having it in the Catholic church. Also, we needed to work through the ‘who does what part?” It fell to Deacon Bob to determine that, as there were parts that he had to do in order for the ceremony to be authorized.

We met over coffee… really good coffee… & absolutely hit it off; turns out Deacon Bob is the father of Whitey, my brother Moe’s long time friend… Plus, he had a great sense of humor, was really, really sensitive to not being offensive to me in walking me through the process; which was funny in its own right, as this is one area that I have no hyper-sensitivity to – & just wanted to make it through the ceremony. :)

It was very enjoyable – & was really glad to be able to have gone to The Abbey with TheMoses & Brother in March – a lot of what I experienced there served as great background for my plunge into the world of liturgical wedding ceremonies.

Stuff that stood out to me:

  • The vows, rings, pronouncement of the couple, & the homily had to be done by Deacon Bob, as he is authorized & recognized by the Church. Homily is a fancy word for the Speech.
  • I could do just about anything else – & did. I even was given an opportunity for Reflection – which Deacon Bob explained is a lot like the homily (speech) except is done by me. :) The irony of how the different words & calling things by different names to fit the structure was not lost on either of us. We laughed a lot.
  • Deacon Bob offered for me to wear a special robe – I thought about it for about 3 seconds & declined, remembering the travesty of the last time I wore a robe for a wedding. As if the suit isn’t uncomfortable enough…
  • Evidently, the best man had a hip flask of tequila that he may or may not have been imbibing from. All I observed was that he progressively mellowed as the evening went on…
  • I got to lead a responsive prayer – which means I read the text, then at the end of my part, lift my right hand up, palm up, to signal that everyone in the room could/should repeat the phrase, “Lord, hear our prayer.” I spent a lot of time practicing this – for many reasons.

    #1, this is a wedding, & this part of the liturgy is very meaningful to a lot of people. Even if its different for me doesn’t mean I can’t participate & see & know the presence of God in the middle of it.

    #2 – I practiced because I’m a dork, & knew that I had to in order to get past the giggles that inevitably show up at times like this. Like when me & the boys were at the Abbey, we all 3 giggled, not irreverently (at least in our eyes) to hear the cantor’s sing-song voice leading the prayers & Daily Office… And, my brother Johnny & I used to copy the Benedictine Monks chanting in Latin that we listened to & observed on TV – we didn’t know the words, so it came out like, “Hee-mo-SHAAAAAAAR-mo…” Still almost giggled yesterday – nice to share that memory with my parents, too.

    #3 – I wanted to make sure that I raised my hand at the right time – turns out I did ok, but I shouldn’t quit my day job. (Thanks Deacon Bob.)

    The wedding was happening at St. Teresa’s, a really beautiful place. It was my first time in the new building – & man – it was sweet.

    And what I didn’t know was that all of the “reflection” & “prayer” parts of the ceremony had to happen at the AMBO. Had no idea what that was… until DB pointed me to the pulpit. Hmm. Got it.

    There were songs, readings from the Bible, a homily, a reflection, prayers, & some more prayers – & it was done. Then, to the reception.

    Hung out for about 90 minutes waiting for the wedding party – they were doing pictures; we were drinking coffee & theBean was eating appetizers… by the time the bride & groom showed up, it was 8:50 p.m. & it was in Carson – so we cheered like crazy for them, then made our way out to go home. On the way out, I was told how terrible it was that I was leaving at this point. Which makes me wonder, as an aside, “How long is long enough to stay at a wedding reception?” Is it worse not to go at all, or to leave after only a ‘short’ time, regardless of the reason for it? Is it a “non-scoey” issue? I think so, but I could be wrong. I’m kinda on a role in that area

    Everything ended up nice & fun, as theBean, theWeez, & I went through McD’s for 3 double-cheeseburgers. The beauty of it is that it is on my diet. Hooray!

  • a great summer night…

    At long last… the day has arrived. Or will. Tomorrow. The Bean & I, along with our fam & some great friends, are off to Sand Harbor for the day – sand, cold water, sun, lounging. A cooler full of refreshments. A book or 10. Ahhhh.

    As if that wasn’t enough, about 5:30, we’ll meander over to the Pseudo-amphitheatre to take our seats… for the Shakespeare festival… we’re going to be seeing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The play starts around 7:30. It’s supposed to be a full-moon. We’re bringing the salami, cheese, & vino.

    Can’t wait.

    Abbey Trip, #1, @ St. Clairvaux…

    Warning – long post ahead – you’ve been warned… :)

    We’re at Starbucks in Vina (with a long “I” sound, so its VI-nah.) Found a place to boost the net for free – no paying Howard Schultz & his empire for me…

    Enjoy! I am.

    4/14 p.m.
    The drive from Reno to Vina took about 3 ½ hours, including the stop in Oroville for a Taco Bell run… walking into a Taco Bell in Oroville is like walking into a Taco Bell in any town – yay franchising…

    The access road to the monastery, actually the “Abbey of New Clairvaux” was a single lane road with a blind curve that had to be navigated at about 3 mph. To my surprise – the road around the was covered in water. When I say “covered” I mean that it was deep enough that I stopped. Couldn’t see the road under the water. Didn’t know if it would be safe to take my valiant & trusty Jetta, the car that will soon be turned out to pasture as its lease expires, through the turbulent & rushing stream.

    Turns out that the ag-creek had been rising, & the workers in the vineyard/olive/walnut grove had pumped the water to aid in their irrigation, as its been something of a dry spring… we entered the water & it got no higher than 6 inches. Fortunately for us, an obstacle navigated.

    When we arrived at the Abbey, we stopped at the “Guest Masters” quarters – more of a “Welcome Hut” or a ‘lobby’ than an actual quarters – there was no one around – no one to be seen anywhere on the grounds. So we got out of the car & walked, slowly of course (we’re at a monastery for retreat, Hello?) looking for any signs of life. About ¼ mile down the road, Ben pipes in with how this actually reminds him of a scene in a particular “Twilight Zone” episode. I know what he’s talking about, but I don’t want to go there right now – esp. to the end of that episode.

    Finally, I see a guy on a golf cart heading for a maintenance shack – I head in his direction – he heads to the shack, not really avoiding me, but definitely not making himself available. He’s a dead ringer for the Amish meets car mechanic look that I became familiar with in a trip to Philadelphia – I explained to him our situation: we just arrived. No one was in the Guest Masters qtrs to meet us, we’re looking for help. He replied: “Ok. Well go back to the Guest Masters qtrs & wait. Someone will be there eventually.” He smiled & went into his work shack.

    We all had a good laugh – of course we wait. That’s part of the point to this place with no ‘useful’ point – time functions on a different clock here, & the waiting is a part of the process. So we walked, (Slowly. Of Course) back to the Guest Master’s, & eventually we were met by a man, probably in his late 70s or early 80s who introduced himself to us as the Guest Master, Brother John. He wore tattered blue jeans & a college sweatshirt pullover – a little bit of an absent minded guy, he gave us a tour of the grounds via a map in the office, & as they came to his mind, offered up a stream-of-consciousness commentary on various topics:
    • The origin of the Abbey – came from Leland Stanford’s family
    • The building project, started in the old days by William Randolph Hearst, & picked up again by his Order (the crew he rolls with) – with a timeline of 50-75 years for completion.
    • The chapel, the meditation room – two places for retreat-ants (that’s what we’re called) to go & hang out if we need a building to do that sort of thing. He called the meditation room a “Zen sort of thing” – which means a sand pit, a couple of candles, no chairs, & a cassette player with a collection of Zamfir’s greatest hits.

    We toured the kitchen – its more of a community kitchen with no staff – the food from the Abbey kitchen, all vegetarian, is delivered a couple of times a day for all of us to eat & enjoy – lots of saltines & peanut butter to go with homemade jam. Looks like plum jam. A loaf of bread. Swiss cheese. Some tofu-based minestrone type soup. With tomatoes & mushrooms.

    We arrived at the guest rooms – two ‘wings” of about 4-6 rooms each – (Matty, we’re in the West Wing. Woohoo!) each very cozy with a cement floor, 2 ½ x 3 ½ throw rug, a single simple bed with Spartan bedclothes (don’t think “The 300” here – think we don’t need much Spartan…) a little built in desk (ala small hotel rooms everywhere,) & a small, personal bathroom. Walls made from cinder block, vaulted ceilings. And plenty of quiet to go around.

    Each of the rooms we were assigned has a placard next to its number – with a corresponding “Room Name” or “blessing” over each room – I’m in #2 – Joy. Ben’s in #3 – Peace. Moe is is #4 – Patience.

    We spent a good portion of the evening talking & laughing, & internally wrestling ourselves about the appropriateness of the room names that we were assigned to – with me desperately needing Joy. Bean & I had talked on Sunday about this very topic – & her prayer, her hope for me is that I would be joyful – & happy. And en-joy my life – because when I’m having a difficult time, when I can’t find my joy, it’s a tough one for all who get to be around me. So joy it is. That transcends circumstance – that goes beyond difficulties. That is based in contentment. That is my strength, regardless what else is going on.

    Later, we congregated in the Peace room, & talked deep talks about life & death, hopes & fears, hiding behind facades, & other joyous things like that. We headed for bed about 11 –

    I had forgotten that there are 5 prayer times a day, the Divine Office, that happen in the Abbey church – & that the call to prayer for all who want to come happens with the clanging of the church bell 5x/day. So I was woken up a few times. At these times.

    Prayer Schedule:
    • 3:30 a.m. Vigils
    • 6 a.m. Lauds & Mass
    • 8:55 a.m. Terce
    • 12:15 p.m. Sext
    • 1:55 p.m. None (prounounced Noin”)
    • 5:45 p.m. Vespers
    • 7:35 p.m Compline –

    The Compline is followed by “the Grand Silence” where all retreat-ants are asked to go along with the monks practice of being silent – or at least providing a place where the rest of the people at the Abbey grounds can be quiet if they want to. Which means that Ben, Moe & I sound like 3 jr high girls whispering & giggling on the grounds. In our room. In the field next to the “West Wing”

    4/15 a.m.
    So now it’s the morning, & I’m debating what to eat – I think it will be crackers with peanut butter & jam again. I love that, & haven’t had it since… I can’t remember. Since my kids were small & I’d eat their left overs? Perhaps?

    At noon, we have a wine tasting for the 3 of us set up in the New Clairvaux Vineyard.

    We’re back from the tasting – we had a full tour of the facilities too – very cool to see the barrels of wine, the press, the ‘crusher’, & the filling station – all of which are manned by the priests from the abbey – they do all of the work under the supervision of Amy the Vintner…

    They took one grape, a Zinfandel, & planted it in two different sections of the vineyard, the “Poor Souls” block & the “St James” block – this gives them a ‘control’ wine to be able to tell what’s happening in the soil in each block. It was amazing how different the same wines in different blocks 300 yards apart smell, taste, & feel. (No, we didn’t have a freak wine tasting accident…)

    Very enjoyable – & pasta for lunch, w/homemade pudding for dessert – fruit cocktail (by Sysco!) mixed with Vanilla Pudding (by Sysco!) Hooray!