Sunday, February 14, 2010

How much is too much?

What can I say? That was entirely too much. Too much snow, too much weather, too much everything. The capital of the free world was shut down like a one-horse town at sundown. Twice.

Everyone figured that we should be shut down, too. We, Saint Bernadette Church, that is. But, well – no. That’s not the way it works. Oh, sure, we closed the school, and the rectory staff did not come in. But the church was open, up and running, so to speak, the whole time.

There for a while (about 20 hours) we lost power last weekend. That meant not only that we had dinner by candlelight, as did plenty of you, but on Saturday evening we had Mass by candlelight as well. It began just as that blizzard was ending, and a small number of intrepid souls walked up for Mass. One of whom, upon leaving, commented, “That was beautiful. I wanted to take out my phone and call people, and tell them to come up here!”

The crowds steadily grew (and the power came back on) on Sunday morning. Every Mass had servers and lectors. The eleven o’clock even had music! Everyone was in a great mood.

Even during the second blizzard this week, in the dark cold windy wee hours of the morning, we offered our weekday Masses on time and on schedule. Not so many folks came, but God was praised, and the intentions which had been requested for those Masses were prayed for, as promised.

This is why we exist, you know. We, diocesan priests, that is. We exist to be here, to provide you with the Holy Sacraments, when and where you need them. We live next to the church, so that we are able to do what we’re supposed to do for you, in your church, no matter what happens. Religious orders have particular charisms and missions and specialties and projects. We parish priests direct our lives toward, well, parishes. And that’s you.

So I hope you know that you can count on us to make it our first priority to provide you the Sacraments you need. If you can make it to the church, we’ll have Mass, ready and waiting.

Some people called during the snow and asked if we were having Mass, and when I said Absolutely, they asked whether the archbishop had said whether they have to go or not. I wonder how many folks think that they have to go to Mass because someone said so? Our obligation to attend Mass is more like our obligation to call our mother on her birthday, kiss our spouses when we come home after an absence, or watch when our children tell us, Hey, look what I can do! We do it because it is at the core of who we are, and it sustains the relationships that sustain us and give us our identity in the world.

If we cannot safely do any of these things because of dangerous conditions, or if we are too sick, or if we are caring for someone who cannot be left alone, then, of course we aren’t shirking our obligations. But we’ll miss them. The same with Jesus, at Mass. Because He’ll be here, for us. It’s that simple. And what He asks is never too much.

Monsignor Smith

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