Over the weekend we went to Jacksonville for their Eucharistic Congress and had a great time. I will admit I was cranky when we hit the road and had to work hard to not snap at kids and Joshua. I could feel the devil attacking me, trying to get me to destroy the early morning peace. I also get this way when facing unknown situations and crowds. I worked hard and managed to only make a few snips at my family.Â
When we arrived in Jax, our GPS sent us the wrong way twice (that didn’t do much for my nerves) and we finally arrived. The parking attended was badgering me to move when I was trying to get Benedict out of the van, and I snapped at the guy. Calm down, dude. Then we locked our keys in the van. I knew then that it was going to be a great conference and it was.
If you live anywhere near Jacksonville, Florida make an effort to go next year. We drove over two hours to go and it was totally worth it. God willing we will go next year as well. The morning started with a procession of all the parishes in the diocese followed by a Keynote address by Cardinal DiNardo. He was outstanding. I “live” tweeted it and I’m glad I did because now I can look back and read the parts that really stuck out to me. Â He said lots of great things, but the part that stuck out the most was when he said the Liturgy in Heaven will be perfect. No more saying “What was up with the music?” or “Why did the deacon do that?”. He had on more example, but it was speaking right to me because most Sundays, I’m walking out of Mass thinking that.Â
Mass was celebrated after the address then we had lunch. We packed our own but there was a downpour for about two hours and we were too far from the van to even attempt a run to eat (you couldn’t bring food into the convention center). We went with a purchased lunch. Note for next year: Bring an umbrella and get there earlier to park closer.
After lunch we dropped the older three off at the “Children’s Track” and Benedict off at the childcare room. This was really a great treat for the parents, it really gave us the chance to hear the talks, visit the vendors, and talk with people we knew without having to keep eyes on the kids.
The afternoon talks were wonderful as well. What a blessing we have with the Eucharist! What a blessing we have to be Catholic!
When we picked the kids up from their area, we got to hear what a great time they had! “Mama, a man came in and sang ‘Lord, I Need You!’, I sang along quietly!” and “The bishop came to talk to us!” and “They brought Jesus to us and we knelt and prayed!” Benedict didn’t have much to report because he slept most of the time.
When the Congress was over, we went to the house of some friends we had met last year at the ordination of Fr. John Paul in Birmingham. It’s always great to get to know better fellow Catholics who are very like minded (and grind their own wheat;)). We went to Mass with them in the morning at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Downtown Jax. Just beautiful!Â
We headed back to their house for brunch, our kids played, and we went to the backyard and checked out the bees. Oh, yeah, I’m definitely now thinking about keeping bees. Joshua can take care of them though ;). Then we packed up and hit the beach. It was Scholastica’s first time at the beach (on her BAPTISM DAY!) and she slept though most of it. The kids all played in the somewhat cold water and I stood in it, letting the waves soak the bottom of my skirt.
While standing on the beach talking, I noticed a group of men walking down the beach, one older man on the arms of two younger men and another man walking just off to the side holding a phone. When they got closer, I saw the older man was holding a rosary and the younger man was reading the prayers off his phone. What a beautiful site to see.
We then decided it was time to hit the road and head back home. First we had dinner at Chipotle, then stopped for a milkshake (it was Laetare Sunday and Scholastica’s baptism day after all, then home.
Thanks for the great weekend, Jacksonville, we’ll be back!