Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Heavenly Lunch and a Spirtual Journey

ChrisMac and I took a streetcar into the Garden District to eat at The Commander's Palace, one of the finest restaurants in New Orleans. This five star restaurant, established by Emile Commander in 1880 captures the charm of old New Orleans. We arrived for lunch unannounced, which was a mistake as The Commander's Palace is one of the area's most popular restaurants, so reservations are required. We were promised that a table would be available for us within an hour, so ChrisMac and I spent some time exploring Lafayette Cemetery across the street. I had been there two years ago and had a bit of an adventure, so it was nice to see that one of the employees I had met was still there.

Lunch at the Commander's Palace was amazing. I had a traditional three course creole meal starting out with a shrimp and sausage gumbo, a seared gulf fish for main course and the most amazing bread pudding I had ever had for dessert. Chris went with the pork loin for for his entree. The Commander's Palace makes some excellent drinks including a great sidecar and some truly wonderful 25 cent martinis.

After lunch, we walked down to St. Mary's Assumption Catholic Church which is the home to the shrine to Blessed Father Seelos. Francis Xavier Seelos was a German born priest who emigrated to the United States in 1843. In 1866, he was assigned to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans. His ministry in New Orleans was brief. That September, exhausted from visiting and caring for the victims of the New Orleans yellow fever epidemic, Seelos contracted the disease himself. He passed several weeks later on October 4, 1867 at the age of 48.

We arrived at the shrine a few minutes before three o'clock, just as the Seelos Welcome Center was closing. I had briefly visited the shine last year in order to purchase a relic for an acquaintance of mine who suffered from cancer, but did not have time to tour the entire facility.

Father Seelos has been beatified which means that the Catholic church officially attributes a miracle to his spirit. One more miracle and he is eligible for sainthood. Obviously, the folks who run the Seelos shrine would like to see that happen and encourage people to purchase relics of Seelos to that end. The belief is that using a relic may entreat the potential saint to intervene with God on behalf of the person who is praying. It obviously didn't work in the case of the person I gave the relic to.

I told the staff my story regarding the relic. They were very sympathetic. We were allowed in and were given a personal tour of both the shrine and the church by the staff. Before we left, one of the staff members took me aside and said "There's a reason why you were called to come back here. I want you to think about that. And when you find that reason, act on it."

I'm pretty sure I was just there to take pictures.

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