Musings from some former inhabitants of the sprawling metropolis that is Prudhomme City

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Priestly Dining

by Cajun Kate

So last night Ted and I went out to Grand Coteau to have dinner with some friends of ours from our high school know, back in the Bronze Age. It just so happens that the friend who set up our little supper club, Mark, is a Jesuit priest. He was recently transferred...uh, been stationed...uh, WHATEVER! He works in Grand Coteau now, OKAY?!? He's in charge of a bunch of Jesuit novitiates. Well, nine exactly. I'm guessing in terms of rounding up possible priests, that's a goodly number. Novitiates means guys who are still in their first or second year in the process of becoming a Jesuit priest...I think. I'm pretty sure. Okay, just believe me for now because listening to Mark that's what I deduced but it's all very involved, and I am way too lazy to go look it up and make sure I am correct. Anyway, it takes a really, really long time to get to the point of taking your vows as a Jesuit priest. Like eight years or something. Like the equivalent of getting a medical or law degree. I tend to think of the Jesuits as the rocket scientists of the priesthood. The other friend who attended, Mitchell, is also a priest. Not a Jesuit, though. He's a... um, regular priest? Ugh, I don't know what his freakin' order or whatever is, ALRIGHT?!? Listen, let's all just go ahead and label me a bad Catholic and move on.

Ted and I arrived a little early for supper, so we walked around the grounds of Saint Charles, the Jesuits' joint out there. Grand Coteau is a very pretty area, kind of hilly or know, not the awe-inspriing flatness of the rest of south Louisiana. The grounds of St. Charles' itself are just amazing. It is so incredibly peaceful there, but in a way that I can't really describe or put into words. I brought along my camera and tried with all my might to capture some photographic evidence that relays the feeling this place produces in me, but they didn't end up doing it any justice. I've included a few at the end of this post anyway.

The supper itself was delicious. Mark had made a spicy dip and guacamole which we consumed with ice cold Abita beer. For the meal, he kicked out a great green salad, yummy potato salad, and delectable chicken sauce piquante. But it was the company that really made the evening special. Mark has traveled all over the world in his twenty years with the Jesuits, and he has the most amazing stories. He's also very, very funny and incredibly smart. Mitchell is the pastor of the church in Gueydan, and he also had some very funny stories to tell. Between the two of them, I could have stayed there all night just talking. We also spent a lot of time talking about growing up in Acadia Parish and how we spent every spare moment outside and how our parents never worried for a moment about our whereabouts or safety. I cracked up when Mark told us about riding his bike directly behind the the mosquito truck, a vehicle that traveled around belching out a spray of pesticides. Mark recalled riding in the direct line of carcinogens in the heat of summer, and thinking, "Ah! It feels so nice and cool!" Ah yes, the refreshing spray of potential cancer! Of course, we didn't know that then. But I think the top story of the night was one Mark told about randomly meeting Patch Adams (you know, the guy from the movie?) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He said it was absolutely one of the most surreal moments of his life.

All in all, it was fantastic evening. Something we definitely need to do again and again and should be able to do now that Mark is in a fairly, by Jesuit standards, stable position. (He'll be in Grand Coteau for the next ten years.) Before we left, Mark took us on a brief tour of the building, which is ninety-nine years old and just gorgeous. Soaring ceilings and magnificent wood floors, etc., etc.

As we were leaving, Mark gave Ted and I copies of his books. He has written two, both about prayer. One is The Armchair Mystic: Easing Into Contemplative Prayer, which I had a copy of but gave to Ted who never returned it, so Mark gave me a new one. He gave both of us a copy of his second book (he's working on a third right now) titled God, I Have Issues: 50 Ways to Pray No matter How You Feel. When I got home, I sat down with it and randomly flipped it open. It landed on the section titled "God, I'm Procrastinating!" Yeah, one of my most enduring and troubling character traits. Just the latest reminder from the Big Guy/Gal that I am under constant surveillance. I like to think of this latest sign as being akin to a post-it note, if you will, from God reading, "Hey, lazy *ss! I see you wasting your precious time! Whaddya think yer gonna live forever or what?" To which I reply, "Sorry, God (for the nine millionth one hundred and eighth time)! I'll put down the Ding-Dongs now and get to work."
Sigh. That God. What a slave driver!

Have a great weekend, peeps, and keep on, keepin' on! Pics from the grounds of Saint Charles in Grand Coteau below.

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