Sabbatical time is winding down; I’ll be “back in the saddle” Wednesday morning after Labor Day.  The break has been beneficial both in terms of additional flexibility in prayer time, in writing, and in relaxing.  But yes, it’s time to get back to the reality of living the Gospel in Mobile and at Our Savior.

          Most of my writing was done in Assisi (and some of my best prayer times—you can’t beat Mass in the basilica where Francis is buried, or Evening Prayer and Adoration in San Damiano).  Some writing was done in the beautiful grounds of St Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, IL—mostly there it was the opportunity to do wonderful outdoor praying and relaxing, admiring the families of deer all over the grounds, enjoying the views of the lake itself, chatting with the staff of the guest house/conference center.  For those interested, the writing I did was revision of my “Stations of the Cross,” expansion of my “Seven Last Words” from a Tre Ore service a number of years ago, a pastoral-theological set of mini-essays on the Sacraments, and the essay on sheep and goats that was put up on the website in this series, as well as (of course) these pieces themselves.

          These last weeks have been in the rectory of what was my Mother’s parish until she died:  Most Holy Redeemer in Evergreen Park.  Mundelein is a far north suburb; Evergreen is on the south end of the City.  So my visits to downtown literally split the difference.  Here I have concentrated more on just relaxing and enjoying time with friends and family—rounds of golf and dinners in various places.  I have had the chance to meet the new associate here, Fr Paul Guzman, who is a “later vocation” and who in former lives had been a police officer, nurse, and in the Navy reserve.  He’s a very nice fellow, but this parish has a pastor, a retired resident priest, an associate, a six-month live-in priest, and a priest for weekend help, plus 2 deacons.  No, there is no shortage of clergy at this parish!  I invited Fr Paul to consider a vocation to the “missions,” but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

          I have one last item on my “bucket list” that I will take care of:  a visit to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.  I have told myself for years and years and years that I would stop on my way to or from Chicago to do this, but I never did.  You must remember that I’m referring to the time when I was a teacher as well as after ordination.  And it’s right off I-65, my major driving route.  But I was always too much in a hurry to get either to Chicago or back to Alabama.  This time, I’m making the time!

          This will be the last of the “Home Thoughts.”  Soon enough, please God, I’ll actually be back home.  Thanks for your toleration of my break.  It’s been good for me, but I’m ready to get back to people I love and the parish where so many good things happen.