Jeez Louise

March 14, 2010

When I first joined the Vincentians, I was given a prayer card to read off, for the Opening and Closing Prayers of the meetings, which were recited rather fast and bring the lyrics of June Carter Cash’s song “No Swallerin’ Place” to mind.

But darn, this song it’s a pretty good song

Only one thing wrong with a pretty good song

‘Cause a pretty good song goes a long and a long

And a long and a long and a long and a long

And a long and a long and a long and a long

Like a doggone marathon race

‘Cause it ain’t got no swallerin’ place.

Finding a good swallerin’ place when reciting the Vincentian prayers was a challenge when trying to keep up with the clipping pace the others set,  that they are long in the habit of using.  After attending a few meetings, I asked what the rush was with reciting the prayers.  Could we not take it slower rather than race through them as though they are an unpleasantness to be dealt with as quickly as possible? 

My point was discussed, welcomed and taken – the prayer pace has slowed and there are plenty of swallerin’ places now. 

In the last couple of weeks, three members of this Vincentian conference have independently contacted me, expressing their gratitude for the ‘freshness of opinion’ and thoughful and thought-provoking questions I ask during the meetings.  Questions which have prompted them to dig deeper into their own perceptions and relationship with their faith and how they are walking their talk.

The Vincentians meet in the Parish Centre of St Joseph’s and back in August 2006, a fire ripped through the church leaving behind some signs which gave the community pause for thought. 

COULD God be living in Chelsea?

That’s the question the locals are asking after a fire ripped through St Joseph’s Catholic church, leaving behind some bizarre symbols.

Firefighters and demolition workers were shocked to find images of four crosses on the wall behind the church’s altar.

The crosses — two each side of the crucifix — have many wondering whether it’s a strange coincidence or an act of God.

Some parishioners are already referring to them as the “Chelsea miracle”.

The blaze broke out early on Wednesday and demolition supervisor Mark Barrett first noticed the crosses later that day.

“It’s a little bit freaky,” he said. “I just noticed on the wall there were four metal plaques and around the plaques there were crosses surrounding them.

“It’s heat deflection, I have no doubt about that, but there are other plaques around the church and there’s nothing around them.”

CFA fire officer Ken Evans, of Patterson River fire brigade, was also shocked when he inspected the church yesterday.

“It’s very weird and spooky,” he said.

Mr Evans said firefighters had commented they had never seen anything like it.

“For the smoke to form in definite shapes is very unusual,” he said. “It’s supernatural or something. Someone’s trying to tell us something.”

(Source: The Herald-Sun, 20 August 2006)

I moved to Chelsea at the end of May in 2006 and during the week of 14-18  August had taken a much-needed break from work.  One of my favourite stories from the Bible is that of Moses and the burning bush, so a burning church which left behind interestingly shaped shadows really got my attention. 

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of Saint Louise de Marillac, one of the saints we beseech to pray for us in the closing prayers.  Her story is interesting, and for me, more relevant than the teachings from the Gospels we discuss – and more recent – plus what we know about Saint Louise was contemporaneously recorded during her lifetime; not decades or centuries later after her death.  

When I was 15 and attending an Anglican church, the Vicar rejected my application to become a Server, his reason being that I “didn’t believe the same way”.  The rejection deeply stung me and the next time I stepped inside a church, All Saints, was on my wedding day, thirteen years later.

When Louise de Marillac applied to join the Capuchins in Paris, she was refused admission, the reasons are not clear, yet her spiritual director’s prophetic response was that God had ‘other designs’ for her.  She went on to co-found the Daughters of Charity with  Saint Vincent de Paul and in her life was a wife, mother, teacher, nurse and social worker.

An amazing woman, an amazing Grace.


One comment

  1. A post chock-full of interesting information! I’m glad your contribution to the Vincentian meetings are being acknowledged!

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