Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo got back late this afternoon from Middle Gel’s Parents’ Weekend festivities.  (The Gel looks splendid, by the bye, and a good time was had by all.)  So it behooved me to find myself a local parish at which to attend Mass this morning and, having found one, actually to get my person up and out to do so.  (When away from my home parish over a weekend, my research is always thorough, my execution sometimes faulty.)

Happily, Ol’ Robbo made the grade today.  A glass of wine with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Newport News, Virginny! The padre who presided was of Southeast Asian origin and I couldn’t understand half of what he said, but the Mass was reasonably dignified and the congregation one of the more enthusiastic body of hymn-singers Ol’ Robbo has encountered since swimming the Tiber.  (Most Catholics seem to do no more than mumble, which is hard cheese for a person brought up in the Anglican tradition.)  I’ve no qualms at all about revisiting this parish whenever we go down to see Middle Gel in future.  (And it’s only about ten or fifteen minutes from the hotel where we stay!)

A mere half hour after we returned to Port Swiller Manor this afternoon, we scooped in Daisy the Special-Needs Dog and repaired to Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church, there to take part in the annual “Blessing of the Animals” in honor of the Feast of St. Francis (which was actually last Thursday, October 4).

Ol’ Robbo has never been particularly fond of this notion of St. Francis as “Friend of the Animals”.  It always conjures up in my mind an image of the Saint as a kumbaya hippie with a couple of Disney bluebirds flying about his head smiling and trilling, while Thumper the Rabbit sits nearby, rolling up his eyes in adoration.  Not that I’m a real Franciscan to begin with (I’m more Benedictine in temperament), but if we’re to have him, I’d much rather go with the rich-kid-who-throws-all-his-clothes-away-for-Lady-Poverty, lives-in-filth, tries-to-sell-himself-to-Muslim-slavers-to-redeem-someone-else guy.   I still think it a bit extreme (as did the Muslim slavers), but at least it isn’t sentimental and Hallmark-ish.  Besides, I think this animal-blessing biznay – which my own parish does, too – is just a gimmick to try and keep people “engaged”.

Anyhoo, I went.  Mrs. Robbo wanted me too, and Youngest gave the Old Testament reading.  (She did very well, too, keeping her head despite several outbursts of conflict among some of the pooches present.)  It was an all-dog “congregation” this year (every now and again in the past somebody has brought a cat and I heard one year somebody brought a horse), and it was amusing to see the various reactions to getting sprinkled with water.  Some of them evidently loved it and wanted to go round again.  Others, not so much.  Our own dear dog, already out of her depth, seemed mostly confused, and after a short time started pulling me towards a car, any car, if it meant taking her home.

But I confess I’m glad we did it.

All in all, a good day.

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