It's been about 48 hours since I last posted an entry. But my last week at La Sainte-Baume looks like it will be filled with activities.
Sister Natalia asked me to give her some piano lessons. That's scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
Tomorrow morning, after petit dejeuner, I will be going hiking with Emmauel Robert, a regular visitor to the hotelerie. We have already shared several meals together and have had some very engaging conversations.
Two of the Dominicans fathers and some of the laity are travelling to the California in the spring to take with them relics of Mary Magdalene and to promote the devotion to St. Mary Magdelene. They have a devotional booklet done in English and they have asked me to review it to be sure it will be understood and accepted by Americans.
Yesterday, M. Garde came for me. I had lunch at their home to meet M. Raymond and Mme. Martine Rizzo, friends of theirs who will take me to the airport next Monday. I will spend the night at their home Sunday night. While at the Garde's home, I had the chance to view a photo album of some familiar territory - Long Pond in East Freetown. I was introduced to the Garde's before I left by Paul and Janet Mathieu who met them on a trip to France some 10 years ago. The Garde's and the Rizzo's have been guests at the Mathieu's home on Long Pond. It was a wonderful meal and a wonderufl afternoon. Keep Mme. Garde in prayers. She fell outside her home and bruised her face and injured her knee. At the same time had some scheduled skin surgery on her face which required several stitches. They are hoping that will not delay their trip to Germany to visit their daughters, sons in law and grandchildren this week.
I continue to meet interesting people in the dining room.
Petit Dejeuner this morning brought two friends of Francine, the mosaic artist who is working on the restorations on the Hotelerie. We kept the hotelerie staff late again this morning with extended discussion at the table about theology, and especially our devotions to the saints. She wanted to know why people outside of France, and particularly outside of Provence did not know much about the devotion to St. Mary Magdelene. My answer went something like this: The devotions in the Catholic Church are many and they are diverse. The tradition that we have to draw upon in vast. Because the church lives in many cultures and nations, our devotions often develop seperately among ethnic groups or national lines. But it is not a sign of division, it is a unifying element of the church. All our authentic devotions point to the same truth - Jesus Christ incarnate and risen for the forgiveness of sins and with the promise of eternal life. Each of the saints gave witness to that truth in as many different ways. They are saints precisely because they lived the gospel and were living witnesses for Jesus. That they did not all accomplish this in exactly the same way is testimony to the strength and the universal identity of the Church. If my spending a month here broadens and creates an appreciation in a new place the life of St. Mary Magdelene, then it is the church which benefits and grows. It seemed to make sense to them.
The question of Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code" came up; who claims that Mary Magdelene was in fact Jesus' wife and they had children together. I asked them if they thought everything that is published is the truth. Dan Brown's book is fiction - he said so on David Letterman. Not to mention that it is catalogued under fiction bythe publishers and the Library of Congress.
Also today I met a young man who has been here all weekend, attending Mass, participating the chanting of the office and taking meals. I had a chance to speak with him today at lunch because the only chair available was facing him at table. His name is Mathieu. He is native of Lyon and in the French Navy stationed at the base in Toulon. This is the major naval port for the French on the Mediterranean. He has a friend who is a student at SUNY Plattsburgh. There's a chance he could visit in the USA sometime. We had a great talk. And I'm running out of "business" cards to hand out.
Also at table was a Parisian man and his young son who were here to hike and to visit the Grotto. He works for Renault in the program that allows extended time visitors to France to purchase a car rather than to rent one. (Ask Bob and Inez Roy about that.) They set me on that program which saved a considerable amount of money for a car for 35 days.
It was a quiet afternoon today. I went for a walk for about half hour, practiced some piano and did some reading.
Tomorrow I begin my last week at La Sainte-Baume. I can hardly believe it.
I have actually completed the Novena to St. Mary Magdelene. I'll do the translation of the last two days tomorrow.
Good night everyone.