So much for the lack of conversation with the Toulon Priests.
Monseigneur Dominique Rey, Bishop of Toulon, was the principal celebrant at Mass today. He and his priests were concluding a week-long retreat as I have mentioned. At today's Mass which concluded their retreat, he lead his priests in the traditional Holy Thursday renewal of ordination promises. It was a very moving experience for me for a couple of reasons. First, what a opportunity to share in this renewal with a local presbyterate and their bishop as I am beginning this time of personal renewal! And second, the ongoing opportunity to pray in French offers me many new and different images on which to reflect. When we renew the ordination promises in English, the Bishop asks, "Are you resolved to ....?" And the answer in English is, "I am". In French, the questions are expressed as an invitation. As the Bishop was posing the question to the priests, "How are they going to answer?" was going through my mind. It couldn't possibly be just, "Je suis" (I am). At the end of the first question I heard the response, "Oui, je le veut!" The literal translation is (Yes, I want it!) It was quite a surprise when I heard that answer spoken by all the priests. When the next question was posed to the us, I was able to answer along with them. For me it was not just a heady acknowledgement to a resolution. The answer in French is a claim. It is a desire. It exresses one's want to share in the priesthood of Christ for the good of one's soul and the good of the church.
I was seated in the last row of priests. So in the procession out of the chapel, I walked out right before the bishop. I turned to thank him and share this bit of insight I had in the renewal of promises. (Even bishops need to know they are heard.) We talked for a while. He asked about my parish at home and the kinds of things we do. The result is that I have an invitation to go to Toulon on January 30 to the Cathedral of St-Maximin where he will celebrating Mass. I will be his overnight guest at his residence. The next day, he wants me to meet with his seminarians so they can hear about hundreds of children in religious education. I'm looking forward to that.
I finally have the internet connection with the monastery. One of brothers here, Frere Thomas is the tech geek here. He understood the value of the technology for me for all the right reasons. So thank you Margaret for posting for me in the meantime. Things will happen much more regularly here. I am also keeping an electronic journal for my own spritual benefit. While this will contain information and reflections of a more personal or even confessional nature, you can be sure that this will shape my preaching for time to come.
Frere Thomas is also the director of music for the community. So he also understands the importance daily practice. He is securing a key to the hall that has a concert grand piano.
God bless you all.