Mar 9, 2009

Episkopos

UPDATE: I added a picture of me with the bishop!


Last Sunday (first Sunday of Lent) I met Bishop Slattery at "The (Combined) Celebration of the Rite of Election of Catechumens and the Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates Who are Preparing for Confirmation and/or Eucharist or Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church." Catholics are nothing if not explicit. Basically, all the catechumens (un-baptized) and candidates (baptized) in the diocese who are intending to receive Confirmation this Easter go down to the Cathedral to receive prayers and blessings from the Bishop, and then, at least in our diocese, we all meet the Bishop.

So it's all going great - Laura and I have a great view of everything because our parish, Saint Benedict, is sitting in the transept. The 3pm sun is coming thru the stain-glass windows, the cathedral is completely packed with a huge diversity of people from all across eastern Oklahoma, the prayers and responses are soaking with meaning and purpose. Then it's our turn to go up to meet the Bishop.

You might recall that one of my early experiences pulling me into the Catholic Church was a Theology on Tap session. That night was actually the night that Bishop Slattery came to talk to the group. I've told some people that, after he was done speaking, he sat down at the table right across from me. As he was sitting down, I took a drink and my hand slipped - spilling beer onto my shirt and in my lap. I didn't actually get to speak to him that night (it was one of those long tables and we were sitting at the head/foot ends).

Back to the cathedral. The way it works is kinda like Eucharist procession - each parish goes up pew-by-pew so there's a long continuous line of people shaking hands with His Excellency. So Laura introduces me, we shake hands. As I'm letting go, Eddie (we tight yo) says, "I've seen you before."

Now here's a weird moment. I'm already halfway stepping away from him when he says this. Do I stop, and so risk bumping into the people behind us, or do I pretend not to hear, and so risk shunning the Bishop?! In the end, I sorta meekly look at him and mutter something like, "Yeah, we've met before" and then scurry off back to my seat. Yeah, I'm a dork.

But, after the ceremony, Laura and I head down to the reception and I take a chance to talk to him again. This time I remind him that we saw each other briefly at Theology on Tap. I didn't remind him I spilled beer on myself, and he didn't mention it either. But I'm almost positive that's how he recognized me. Heh.

It was cool to meet him and find out he's a pretty regular guy. I think when I was Protestant I had presumed that bishops, or even priests for that matter, must have been arrogant or something. But every Catholic clergyman I've met so far has been really humble - usually making me feel like I'm the proud one. I'm working on that.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

It's interesting to me how we hold certain offices and people to an image we have of them. I worked with a Priest in Oklahoma City on a project who was so kind and very funny. For some reason, it amazed me. He changed the way I viewed priests from stoic and arrogant to human and feeling.

It must have been divine providence for you to spill your beer.