The following is reprinted with permission from Our Lady of the Valley and St. Raphael parishes, who share the same pastor, Holy Cross Father Ed Kaminski, and his beloved pup, Raphie. It was published in the March 25 bulletin to mark the beginning of Holy Week.

Practice makes perfect

Fr. Ed Kaminski and his dog, Raphie, enjoy a moment together during a Blessing of the Animals in this 2008 file photo. (Catholic Sun file photo)

Hello, church! It’s Raphie again. It has been a while since we last chatted, but with this being the beginning of Holy Week, my dad is super busy with all the neat church stuff that is about to take place this week. Being the good pastor’s pup that I am, I figured I would take a little pressure off my dad and write this week’s column.

Dad says this is a real special week, the most important week in the whole church year. I know it must be very important because dad is out almost every evening this week.

In the first part of the week he had rehearsals and practices for the three days of special services in the second half of the week. It must all be very special because otherwise my dad wouldn’t leave me home all alone for so many nights.

My dad and me, we love to spend our time together in the evenings, especially after he has been at work all day. The best part of those nights together is I get treats and tummy rubs; I love treats and tummy rubs. Even after being out late at church, I know dad will give me my treats before lights out and beddie-bye time.

I know when this special time of year is coming because the cold dark nights grow warmer and days get lighter. I also know when these days come around because daddy is tenser and more tired at the end of the day. He tells me why these days are so important every year so I understand why he has to be at church with all of you for so long. These are the days daddy says that we remember how much Jesus loves us. “He loves us this much,” my dad says, as he stretches his arms wide like Jesus did on the cross, “even to the point of death, death on the cross.” Wow, I think in my little puppy head, that is a whole lot of love.

I know there are a lot of rituals and practices to these days; it is not like taking walks or getting treats, because dad makes sure I get walks and treats every day.

Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday dad says we remember the Last Supper when Jesus said he would be with us through the bread and wine that is our Holy Communion. It scared me at first when daddy said it was the last supper, because I like supper a lot and can’t imagine there being no more suppers. But dad calmed my fears when he told me that Jesus’ last supper on earth becomes the unending supper we recall every time the Mass is celebrated. That means we will never be hungry again! Neath, huh?

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted washes the feet of parishioners during Holy Thursday Mass in this 2017 file photo. (Catholic Sun file photo)

My dad told me that on Holy Thursday we remember the example Jesus gave us of how to serve when he washed the feet of his disciples. Just like Jesus, he washes the feet of people form both of our parishes. I know that is very important to him because he practices on me every day. Each morning, rain or whine, when we return from our walk daddy gets down on his knees, grabs a towel hanging on a hook nearby and carefully wipes my four feet. Often the grass in the park is wet from early morning dew or from the sprinklers. Sometimes, being the furry little creature that I am, dad says I pick up debris form the park like lint is attracted to Velcro.

I love our little morning ritual, especially as dad puts his forehead on the top of my head as he wipes first my front paws and then the back. When he gets to my back paws, I nestle real close to him. I think daddy likes it when I cuddle close to him because after he wipes my feet, he gently uses the towel to give me tummy rubs. I like tummy rubs almost as much as I like treats! I know when our little ritual is over because daddy always kisses me on the top of the head before I scamper away.

Of course, I don’t go too far because when my dad gets back up, it is time for my first treat of the day and breakfast. It sure takes a lot longer than it used to for dad to get up off the floor and back upon his feet, but he says it is good practice for Holy Thursday, and practice makes perfect. I wonder how that works at church when he has to get up and down to wash a whole lot more feet.

Daddy also tells me about the foot washing when we watch TV in the evening. Sometimes when he is sitting on the sofa I will come up and lick his bare feet; I think daddy really likes that. I must do a good job because when I finish dad says, “Raphie, I should take you to church with me on Holy Thursday; you can wash and I’ll dry.” It would be so neat to help dad at church; I wonder if this will be the year.

Raphie, Fr. Ed Kaminski’s dog, can’t help but wonder if she’ll get to see inside church this Holy Week like the dogs during this Oct. 1, 2017 at St. Pierre D’Arene Church in Nice, France did. The animals and their owners celebrated the Oct. 4 feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. (CNS photo/Eric Gaillard, Reuters)
Final thoughts

Dad tells me about a lot of other neat things we only do during these special days. I know my dad would want me to encourage all of you to come to church for these special days of prayer that leads all the way up to the best day of the year, Easter Sunday!

It had been great talking with all you church people again, but this ole pup feels a nap coming on I am sending you all a lot of puppy prayers for a wonderful Holy Week and a beautiful Easter.

The Pastor’s Pup