Hello from Austin. Melanie and I arrived here on Saturday afternoon from Dallas. It was a very interesting ride through central Texas, getting appreciate the lay of the land. Now I know why they call it “big sky” country. I can imagine what it was like to ride across it 125 years ago.
Yesterday, we went to Mass at Melanie’s family parish, St. Louis. If you want to know what a Novus Ordo High Mass looks like, you could do no better than their 9:30 Mass. There were a dozen altar servers, all in cassock, surplice, cape, and white gloves, as well as 2 acolytes, a con-celebrant, and a choir. The church itself was decorated beautifully for Christmas and the furnishings were lovely, from the ambo to the candlesticks to the various altar items. The music was beautiful and traditional for the Feast of the Epiphany and there was lots of incense and bells and chanting and so on.
The parish itself is huge. They have a K-8 school, a gift shop, a library, a food pantry, and more I didn’t see. It was all very nice and if I lived in Austin I think this would be my parish.
Melanie’s family has a very nice custom involving Epiphany. They don’t give gifts to each other on Christmas (or they give very small stocking stuffers), but wait until Epiphany to give them to each other, which is the traditional day for gift-giring in many countries. Yes, technically Epiphany is on January 6, but in the US it’s on the Sunday between January 2 and 8 and so we have to live with that. Still, it’s a very nice custom and her family gave me some nice gifts, including a boxed set of the Star Wars DVDs. (Melanie’s mom looked at my Amazon wish list.)
Melanie got me a “cowboy up” t-shirt with a Bible verse and some cowboys on it. For those of you who remember the Red Sox 2003 campaign, you may remember that “cowboy up” was their motto during the playoffs. Very appropriate. She’s also buying me a real cowboy hat, but had to wait until I was here so she could make sure it fit on the enormous melon we call my head. I promise a picture.
I’ve been promised authentic Texas BBQ and some wonderful Tex-Mex over the next couple of days, so I’m looking forward to that. Oh yeah, and it’s in the 70s, although a bit cloudy, but that’s fine with me because it’s a lot better than the weather back home.