We took it off the bulletin, but we couldn’t take it off the menu. What am I talking about? Snow, of course. We changed from our winter bulletin cover last weekend, after a number of people, not limited to the rectory staff, began to cry out to God and to me for deliverance from even photographs of snow. So our steeple and rosy sky, plus the portrait of our Patroness, returned to herald spring, or at least express our hope for it.
Then, wham. The snowfall exceeded predictions, and we all reverted to our accustomed responses as schools and offices closed, and another Monday fell to the weather axe. Father McCabe has one professor he hasn’t seen in over a month because that class meets only once a week, and those days not lost to (so-called) Spring Break have fallen before the recurring frozen juggernaut. Fr. McDonell has similarly lost weeks of certain classes.
I was reading just this morning that the severity and duration of this winter have combined to kill off a number of plants that had been thriving locally for years. That explains why my rosemary, usually a perennial in my herb garden, looked so, well, dead when I stopped to look at it last week. It was on the list of things that usually survive, but this year have not. Other victims will be identified when they fail to report for duty as the spring summons comes to their spot on the roster. My one consolation is that this winter is supposed to have killed just as many bad bugs as it did good plants.
Through it all, our church has kept up operations, not flagging from our duty of giving glory to God under all circumstances. (Frost and chill, bless the Lord. Ice and snow, bless the Lord! Daniel 3) We have not missed a Mass or confessions yet. The lot and sidewalk have been clear for anyone who could reach us, and the interior has been cozy and warm (with the exception of that two-week period in the third through eighth grade classrooms).
Including the St. Patrick’s Day snow, we have spent $29,057.50 on snow removal, almost exactly twice our budget. We’ve had excellent snow removal service at a good price, just a lot of snow. We are still gauging the extent to which our utility bills have reached new heights driven by our demand for warmth.
So next weekend, 29 – 30 March, we will have a second collection to cover winter expenses in the parish. I would respectfully request that you offer at least what a normal Sunday offering would be for your family. I know this winter has brought expenses to your household too. My hope is that there was also a reduction in spending in some categories, because the weather was just too bad to go out and buy or spend. But I am grateful for your willingness.
As we have begun Lent and the practice of penance, I find myself counseling people in the confessional that their difficulty in maintaining charity and cheer in the relationships that surround them does not reflect a lack in themselves, much less in the grace God gives. Rather, our irritability, and the evident defects of those we spend our days with, has been increased to near unmanageable levels by the combination of enforced enclosure together, and the reality that everyone’s fuse is short and visage is grim as we all wait for deliverance.
But unlike last month, now it’s Lent, so there is something we can do with it: offer it up! And next week when the basket comes around a second time for help with our parish’s winter expenses, the same response is called for: offer it up!