This week at Madonna House was an odd mixture of comedy and tragedy, with a great deal of ordinary life mixed in between. The week started with an influx of guests, about five or six, who all arrived at the same time because of their respective university reading weeks (we don’t call it Spring Break in Canada, for obvious reasons). It’s always nice to have an infusion of new blood at this point in the winter, when the long Canadian cold is starting to wear on all of us just a tad.
They arrived in time for the ‘comedy’ part of the week. Like everyone else in Canada, we’ve all been following the Sochi Olympics closely (Go Canada!). This past weekend was a long weekend, the rather fresh-minted Family Day holiday coming this past Monday. So we decided to hold the MH ‘So-cheap Olympics’, starting Sunday evening complete with an opening ceremony and a torch, and continuing Monday, as we knocked off work mid-afternoon for fun and frivolity (in that order).
There were men’s and women’s hockey games, an effort at curling (which is much harder than it looks), a ‘luge run’ (OK, so it was one of those flat toboggan thingys going down a snow berm), and a biathlon course (snowshoe race with water pistols). There were smores and other goodys and a general atmosphere of festivity.
So, that happened. MH is a Very Serious Community much of the time, but we do have our abundantly silly side, and it’s always great to let it rip once in a while.
The ‘tragedy’ side of the week came in relation to our week of prayer and study around the issue of human trafficking and slavery, which I mentioned last week. The US bishops had asked for people to pray for and educate themselves on this issue and the terrible evil it is in our world. Several of our members put together a powerful presentation one evening using the testimonies of survivors of various forms of human trafficking-a child soldier from Africa, an Eastern European woman snared by a sex trafficking ring, a migrant worker exploited by his employers, a domestic slave abused by her ‘owner’.
It was extraordinarily well done, and truly did make present the suffering and scandal of this modern day human rights crisis (there are currently estimated 27 million people caught in some form of slavery). There was a chance for discussion and feedback at supper last night and a holy hour in the evening.
Beyond the comedy and the tragedy, it was another pretty ordinary week. A lot of work accompanied the first real thaw of the winter – while we welcomed the mild temperatures mid-week, they do bring with them risk of flooding and slipping on ice, and so great work went into drainage and sanding of paths.
Our directors general—the three people who oversee the work of the apostolate as a whole—returned from their visitation of our house in Winslow, Arizona. Since I am the assistant to the DG of priests, and cover for him when he’s away, I’m always a bit relieved to see him return from these trips (he’s a nice guy, and I enjoy his company, too!).
One ongoing bit of ‘ordinary’ that I didn’t mention last week is the Wednesday classes. We have four young men here from October-Easter for our Spiritual Formation Program for men considering the priesthood. This has run at MH for over 30 years. So on Wednesdays they have classes. In the morning all of the guests have class—in the fall, it is on the Fundamentals of Spiritual Life, in the winter, it is the Catechism. In the afternoon, the four men in the program have a class. Right now, I am teaching them Scripture—at other points in the program they have classes on the priesthood, liturgy, and Mary.
So that’s pretty much it for this week in MH. A pretty standard-issue week, all things considered. Know that as we go about the ordinary tragicomic business of life, you are all in our prayers, and we hope you keep us in yours.