This was the most famous line in the series of presidential debates in 1980 between President Jimmy Carter and candidate Ronald Reagan.  Carter seemed so flustered; Reagan seemed so calm and collected as he delivered this line. 

          No one not in the Oval Office can possibly understand the pressures of the American presidency.  Candidates like Bill Clinton or George W Bush or Barack Obama could seem smooth and “all together” since they didn’t have that experience.  Once they got it, they changed—they aged.  While running for office they surely enjoyed Reagan’s line; once they were some years in office I’m confident they appreciated Carter’s stress-level.  After all, the Iran hostage crisis was in full swing.  And for all the other issues being faced, George W Bush faced perhaps the worst of them in 9-11.  They learned that there is real reason why “There [he goes] again.”

          That brings me to me.  I know people are often saying about me, “There he goes again,” meaning to Italy or Chicago or some other exotic locales for a junket.  [FYI, I didn’t go to my annual ecumenical officers’ conference this year, but in the past it’s been held in the “exotic locales” of Columbus, OH; Oklahoma City, OK; Charlotte, NC.  You get the picture.]  And in fact I will be heading overseas later today [Sunday] for what I refer to as my “real” retreat:  prayer time, Mass, and Eucharistic Adoration in Assisi; Rosary, Confession, and Mass in Rome.  Our priests’ retreat is good, on its own terms (and we have been blessed in these last 5-6 years with really outstanding speakers as our retreat directors).  But 2-1/2 days just doesn’t do it.  There is not enough time truly to enter into the retreat experience before it’s over.  When making the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, a 30-day experience, people are reminded that a good practice is to get into gear with about a week’s worth of adjusting to a retreat mode…

          So forgive me.  I’ll only be gone for one weekend (and that’s all the majority of the parish will miss me for, after all).  I’ll be praying for special people this time (including and especially my Mother and Father on the anniversaries of their passing to eternal life).  But at the altar I’ll be remembering everyone at Our Savior, too.

          So please pray for me as I go to pray for you and many others, in places where my heart and soul can truly sing His praises with thanksgiving.  It’ll bring me back, that much more ready to sing His praises with service, here at Our Savior.