Saturday, March 25, 2017

Out from under

Already I had made sure that Carol was going to change the cover of our bulletin from the winter “snow” cover to the spring cover, as usual making the switch on the weekend after daylight savings time starts.
But no sooner had an hour of daylight moved, to the chagrin of the 6:30 AM Mass crowd, from morning to evening, than the customary apocalyptic prophecies began and a winter storm (Stella?  Really?) bore down on Silver Spring.
You know how I am about snow: ever since the winter of 2009–10, when Snowmageddon  cost us a fortune and ruined many plans, I’ve had an allergy to snow at any time and in any quantity.  Bah.  But this snow, this year?   This was different.  As I suspected, our amounts were not that big, and therefore not that expensive.  The Monday into Tuesday timeline meant that it would not affect Sunday Mass.  Though we cancelled Tuesday evening’s practice, Wednesday’s Confirmation went on as planned– and beautifully too.  So for one day, everything was cancelled, and everybody curled up and was quiet.  It was just what we needed; it was the Snow Day from Jesus. 
Of course I had the 6:30 Mass.  The only folks stirring on the property besides me were the snow removal guys.  But I lit the candles and went up to the altar of God at the appointed time, and by the time I got to the Offertory I had two congregants.  Afterward, I had the church to myself for an hour of quiet prayer.  I think Fr. Gallaugher had eight at 8:15.
Then I got around to the rightful business of a snow day: cooking.  I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast.   Then on to lamb ragu, a recipe I begged from Fr. McCabe before he left.  I served it to my housemates for lunch on a pasta type called strozzaprete (priest stranglers); they appreciated the irony.  Simultaneously I made a big batch of chili and left it to cook for the rest of the day.  We ate a little for dinner, but oddly were not very hungry!  Fortunately, I could refrigerate it the enormous pot on the back porch overnight, and share it with the whole staff for lunch the next day.  I would have made chocolate chip cookies, but it’s Lent.
Cleaning up after my outburst of activity, I got to that enormous pot I used for the chili.  It’s a good one that’s been in the rectory for decades.  I use it all the time, and it shows, so I decided it was time to figure out how to get rid of some of the stains.  Following all the online instruction I could find, I improved it, but hardly returned it to its initial pristine whiteness. 
Which got me to thinking – if only I could do for this pot what I can do for souls!  The power to absolve people of their sins is one of the greatest gifts I have, and I don’t even need to roll up my sleeves for it.  We are in the season when our kids make their first Confessions, and the joy it brings them is a delight.  Traffic has been thin, however, among their parents and others who are older.  Come on, people – it’s time to get serious!
Martin Luther posited that God’s mercy covers our sinful nature like snow covers a dung heap.  As with other things, he was wrong about that: God purifies us of our sins by the Precious Blood He pours out in sacrifice for us.  He is eager, not to cover or hide, but to restore and reveal the glory of every human soul.  We are not dung heaps, but rather : The glory of God is the living man. (St. Irenaeus) 
So, stop hiding under a blanket, and go to confession!  I grudgingly admit that snow can (on rare occasion) be a blessing from God, but it cannot and will not cover the proverbial multitude of sins.  Nor will it any longer cover our bulletin.    

Monsignor Smith

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