February 20th, 2009

lindisfarne gospels

A minor pilgrimage

I took my confirmation class (some of them, anyway) plus a couple of guests to St. Meinrad Archabbey today. Brother Maurus gave us the Cook's Tour: monastery, abbey church, several chapels, classrooms, chapter room, and whatnot. We attended noon prayer with the monks. We ate at the guesthouse/retreat center, then repaired to the Abbey Press gift shop. At the gift shop, we fiddled with knicknacks and the odd casket (they sell caskets and urns these days -- by request).

The kids were pretty alert to what was going on, and asked intelligent questions (sometimes). They noted that of all the various holy places we passed through, Brother Maurus acted differently in only one. In all the places we visited he acted as tour guide, except in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Before entering, he told us what to expect; once within, he knelt in prayer (so did I). The kids and my other adult sat respectfully around the bench running along the apse of the church where the chapel was. Nobody said anything. When Brother Maurus was finished praying, he got up and left without indicating anything to us of his intention. I gestured to our group and we joined him in the hallway and continued the tour.

Later on, we talked about this. I pointed out that the reserved sacrament within the golden tabernacle was considered by Catholics to be the actual, physical presence of Christ Himself; therefore, while other places of worship could be considered "vacant" at times -- and the subject of tours -- within his presence, mere chitchat would be considered inappropriate. This is why Brother Maurus spoke to us before and after our visit to the Blessed Sacrament chapel, but within had words only for Christ.

Below the cut are a few pictures of our trip. Collapse )
very angry

This is why I don't like to call the Conference office

Today is the deadline for the electronic submission of annual reports to the Conference ("Check Day"). I finally have all the numbers ready to plug in, and I go to my computer to enter them. But first, I need to be reminded of something.

I call the District Secretary at the Conference Office. No answer. I call the Conference Office directly to speak to the person in charge of Check Day reports. Not in today. I ask to speak to a secretary whose name is given in a secondary character for this task. I get her voice mail.

My question is: Why is there never anybody there to simply respond to your query? The first time? Today?

This is a fundamental question of customer service. I don't want to talk to a voice mail recorder. I want to talk a real human being. I want my question answered within five minutes. That's the standard. I understand about not being able to get hold of busy professionals (I am one, myself). But we're not talking complicated stuff. This is not a matter of open-ended conversations about program design or something. I just want my question answered.

Why can't every person working there know enough to handle routine questions, especially about the e-mail and electronic reports we all have to deal with?

EDIT: I finally got hold of the appropriate person and got a quick, painless answer to my question. Turns out a lot of folks have had the same problem this year. So, all is well -- after the fourth try.