This line makes me think of a set up for a Dick Van Dyke episode. You want everything to be perfect – you want to impress “the boss” – the only thing you need is for the whole world to cooperate.
In a similar vein, our bishop, Bishop Lennon, was coming over for dinner on Friday. We were having confirmation and we invited him early to break bread with us. I thought I was handling it rather well - I thought I was smiling and trying put on a façade of taking it all rather drolly, but a friend told me he was staying away from me because he could tell I had taken on “a mood.” I didn’t know it. Well, I take that back. I knew it. I didn’t think anybody else knew it.
We spent the day getting the parish ready for confirmation. The church, besides being straightened up, had to be turned over from somber lent purple to celebratory Holy Spirit red. Extra chairs and materials set out, places reserved, all the objects used for the Mass set out. In the mean time a crew of two to six people have been working for two days on a fabulous meal. It was a challenge because it was a Friday in lent and I wouldn’t let a thirsty fish into the house for a glass of water. Fr. P took a year’s worth of accumulated stacks of paper and deposited them in the trash increasing the space in his office by 23%. The secretaries were working diligently to make sure all of the parish records were 100% up to snuff in case the bishop wanted to review them. I was taking care of last minute details – putting up parking signs, cleaning a guest room in case the bishop had need, (he never does) writing checks, and drugging the dog so that he would be well behaved when the bishop came.
Of course there are those things that cannot be helped – specters that hang over the day that could be a cause for the ruination of the evening. Less than 48 hours prior news spread about the reopening of parishes in the diocese by order of the Vatican (whatever that may eventually mean.) So we had a meeting. Do we talk about it or not? And with the swiftness of gavel strike we rendered the giant elephant invisible unless his Excellency wished to make it visible.
While trying to make it seem like everything was just flowing along effortlessly, Fr. P and I were quietly trying to manage three large groups of people. There were those to be confirmed who had to go to the hall to get their pictures taken and then come to the church meeting room to meet with the bishop before the Mass began (and then back to the hall after for a reception.) There were those at the dinner who had to finish eating just as it was time to get dressed and meet the young folk. Then there was everybody else, sponsors, parents, family, friends, who were gathering in the church. I would whisper to Fr. P., “Go see if they are ready for us,” and he come back and solemnly nod and then, as if were just meant to be we would announce, “Bishop, if you are ready, I believe the confirmandi are ready to see you now.”
By and large the night was a success. The confirmandi were vigilant and responsive, the bishop prayed a great Mass, the ceremony went well, there was a nice reception afterwards, the bishop was just swell, Sebastian was a gentleman largely due to his allergy medication, and I slept the sleep of a wet, rotting log in the forest.