The humorous, yet shrewd advice of a wise old Franciscan came to mind to-day: he said, "Never confess to a pious priest - whatever you tell him, he'll be horrified, and berate you, and make you do the Stations of the Cross with a Rosary between each Station... No, confess to an experienced, down-to-earth priest who's heard it all before, and whatever you tell him, he'll just say, 'Say three Hail Mary's!'"
We all laughed when he told us this, on a retreat some years ago, but the more I think about it, the more I realize the wisdom in these cheeky words, which I think I've already blogged on, but no matter, truth bears repeating.
That said, having gone to Saturday Confession as per usual, all I got was an Our Father!
(Some Anglo-Catholic friends of mine - now gone Russian Orthodox - rather sniffily told me many years back that this R.C. business of being allotted a penance of "five Hail Mary's," or "three Our Father's," was strange to them, for when they confessed to their priest, he would always suggest an apposite psalm to pray, given their particular condition and troubles. Dear soon-to-be-no-longer-separated brethren, any comments?)
This week I have rather broken both my Advent resolves, about praying the Breviary and hearing daily Mass, but have now clambered back on the wagon... while I find Matins of Friday and Saturday especially wearisome, I forced myself to the Hours yesterday, and found reading the Church's Morning Office (Matins and Lauds) in church after confessing very good. No pain, no gain.
After the sacred, the secular duties of this day: a rather pestilent business of doing Christmas shopping, including seeing over $80 spent on the obligatory ham and turkey!
At least it's all done now bar the shouting: the pudding's been collected from the Deanery (the good Catholics of New Norfolk raise much money by boiling up Chrissie puds each year in bulk, then selling them off through Tasmania's parishes), the materials for the punch have been assembled, the Christmas fruitcake is all ready for consumption, the wreath's about to go on the front door... all that remains is to soon to gather up the remaining necessities (fresh peas in the pod, brandy custard and other comestibles) for the gargantuan traditional yuletide feast that the family maintains as indispensable.
Mum once asked my sister and I, would we like to have anything different for our family Christmas dinner (when we all gather together around the long dining room table, whatever the weather)? Absolutely not, we said in unison. All change is pernicious.
While in Tasmania it is certainly easier to do than on the Mainland, I think it every Australian's duty to have a proper old-fashioned Christmas dinner, without any concession whatsoever to climate or lifestyle: arguably, it is all the more meritorious to suffer it during a scorching heatwave. One can always go lie groaning on the sofa after lunch...
To have some sort of seafood barbecue on the beach for Christmas - however nice to do so any other time of year - is an abomination.