Blessings and Bedbugs, January 8-9, 2019


My sacristy (priests’ sacristy) is below the church in the undercroft. When I enter the building, I step into the St Michael the Archangel Law Enforcement Chapel. We’ve had this chapel for, gosh, 3 years now? There is a keypad outside the door and law enforcement officers have 24/7 access to the chapel and kitchenette that we keep stocked with snacks and drinks. Most importantly, they have access to clean and safe restrooms.  A while ago, I offered St Michael pendants to any officer that wanted one. The requests have been dormant for a while, but I always check the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board. Sometime during Monday night, the 38th officer requested a St Michael pendant. I do hope they feel angelic protection as they serve. God bless them all. Especially this week, which has been particularly hard with law enforcement assignations.

After Morning Prayer and Mass (memorial of Harriet Bedell), I administered the sacrament of unction to a parishioner who was having surgery that day. A quick cup of coffee was in order, followed by the weekly staff meeting. At staff meeting we discussed the fact that we may have a bedbug issue in the parish hall as a result of our overflow homeless shelter. Yet again, bedbug removal was never covered in seminary. In fact, as I look over these blog posts, not much of what I do was! More on bedbugs later. At 11:30, I drove to a local business to bless it. Several parishioners have taken up my offer to bless their homes/businesses during Epiphany. Cotta, purple stole, holy water, book, check – all ready to go.  I don’t have a good blessing for a business, so I adapted the traditional house blessing for the business, changing “all who dwell therein” to “all who work therein.”

After the blessing, I ran home for a very quick bite to eat and an even quicker to trip to the gym during the lunch break and was back at church in an hour. I had some writing to do as the president of the Society of King Charles the Martyr and other administrative duties. At 4pm, I met with a parishioner who was interested in starting a parish nurse ministry in the parish – the ideas were all spectacular and the need is so great. I love it when the Spirit moves within folks and they bring these ideas. I love it even more when they offer to lead and support a new work. We are at our best in terms of ministry when we equip our people to share their own gifts in the service of the Lord.

The day ended with Evening Prayer and Shrine Prayers.

Wednesday was a mess.

Morning Prayer and Mass (memorial of Julia Chester Emery) with a large congregation for 8:15 (10). As soon as mass was over, I met a member of the pest control company with her dog, whose only job in life is to sniff out bedbugs. Extraordinary! Who knew? Unfortunately, the dog had sniffed out more than one bug. When I was a little boy, my mother would tuck me in the bed, and say, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!”  I assumed these were mythical creatures that mothers created because they could make a rhyme. Nope. They are real and in the words of the little girl in Poltergeist, “They’re here.” Decisions had to be made quickly. The parish dinner was clearly off. Fortunately, I had prepared for this contingency the day before. The bigger question was whether we should cancel formation, too.

I made some rapid consultation with staff and parish leaders and composed an email to the parish cancelling formation and programs for the night until we can have the parish hall treated. To my great delight, no one called or emailed in a panic. I received a couple of reasonable questions, but that was it.

Bedbugs or no bedbugs, the day must go on. Bible Study at 10:30 followed by the noon mass with unction. I was in a bit of a funk in the afternoon due to an exchange with a parishioner, but was encouraged both inwardly and outwardly to push through and move on. Good advice. There is a fine line, I think, between letting things roll off your back and having a callous and hardened heart. I strive for the former but worry about the latter.

I knew I would be gone the next day, so I had to get all of Thursday’s work done Wednesday afternoon. Sunday will be a big day – guest preacher, 3 masses, and Evensong and Benediction. There was much to write and even more to print.

Thankfully, the neighbors didn’t call the police.

Thankfully, the neighbors didn’t call the police.

At 4:45, we said Evening Prayer, Shrine Prayers, and ended the day with the rosary. I was worried many would still come to dinner and formation because a) not everyone gets our emails and b) those who do don’t always ready them. I donned my saturno and cloak and waited for anyone to arrive and share the news about the cancellation. I may be accused of loving ancient and esoteric things, and I do, but these items are perfect for warmth.