Saturday, February 08, 2014

Play now, pay later

This morning, fully expecting to learn that a two-hour delay had been declared to the start of the school day, I got up and checked the web site of Montgomery County Public Schools, whose weather-based decisions our own schools follow.  Much to my shock, I saw that school had been cancelled for the entire day.
Of course I was not entirely displeased, as a school closing often heralds a quieter day in the offices here at Saint Bernadette Central.  Sometimes, it indicates that even the staff will be unable to report for work, which means our house stays a home instead making its daily transformation into a hybrid between office space and a commuter railway platform. 
This day, however, the bad weather must have been up-county, as all the staff reported on time, and the phones and doorbell rang at least as much as they do any other Wednesday.  Morning Mass attendance was lower, of course, but hearty souls still arrived for their daily Bread of Angels.  At the 8:15, I even had two valiant lads report to serve at the altar!
Standing ready and waiting for the Mass to begin, the boys were circumspect.  They were pleased to have the day off school – who wouldn’t be?  But they were aware of a creeping consequence to their unearned liberty: soon each day won now for sleeping in and goofing off because of weather real and perceived will have to be repaid months hence with a day forfeited to desks and tasks, while the green fields of summer beckon. 
One of the boys half-heartedly assured me that he would rather have the day free now, and face the consequences later; but the other was less sure.  I was only just beginning to realize this future cost to my own present pleasure, and admit that I am unhappy at the prospect of extra school days in the spring. 
Our own Father Nick issued an internet plea this week: To whomever among you has been praying for snow:  Please stop!  But of course none of us can influence the weather, or even the decisions of the Montgomery County School Deciders. 
Still, it forces the question to be asked, how much are any of us willing to grab some good thing we crave now at the cost of some future sacrifice or suffering?  Heck, it’s a constant challenge simply at the table or refrigerator; how much more so as those decisions grow in import and consequence?
Jesus puts before us this weekend the joyful reminder that everything we have been given is ours so that we may do with it what is good.  Without referring directly to the eventual cost of selfishness, he encourages us to avoid satisfying our present pleasure but rather seek the good beyond our own.  In that light, we have to ask ourselves about far more than just snow days.
Speaking of cancellations, I regret to tell you that I have had to cancel the special Mass I had announced for this Tuesday, 11 February, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  Logistics difficulties forced me to call it off; please do not, however, neglect to do something festive and faithful to celebrate the 156th anniversary of the first time Our Lady appeared in the grotto outside Lourdes to our gentle young Patroness, Saint Bernadette Soubirous.  May they both bless you with their loving intercession!

Monsignor Smith