THE SNOW LAY ON THE GROUND
Brothers and Sisters,
During the past month, I have cancelled a number of daily Mass and other parish events because of the snow and extreme cold that we have been experiencing. It’s tough for more than one reason. One of those reasons is that, as you know, the driving conditions in one of our communities can be very different from one location to the next. Another reason is that it is challenging to communicate cancellations to everyone. Further, the cancellation of a liturgical event is just not something that I like to do – I avoid cancelling Mass as much as I can. Fortunately, we have not needed to cancel a weekend Mass during my time here as of yet.
I bring this up for two reasons. First, I recognize that for many it is difficult or perhaps even dangerous to be outside during the extreme cold and that at times the road and driving conditions are dangerous for all of us. I want to remind everyone that when road and weather conditions make it dangerous to drive, I always recommend safety instead.
The second reason is that there is an analogous situation happening in the Diocese of Utrecht which is in the Netherlands. The Cathedral of that diocese one of those ancient beautiful designs, however, not surprisingly it has a significant maintenance cost due to its substantial age. The real problem over there, however, is resulted from their troubled history.
The cathedral for Utrecht was originally a friary for Carmelite monks and built in the 15th and 16th centuries. During the Protestant Reformation, it was seized by others but was eventually given back to the Catholic Diocese in the mid-19th century. While for many this might seem like water-under-the bridge or water-over-the-dam, the effect of the multi-century lack of Mass there still takes its toll on the current scenario. The Diocese of Utrecht is still recovering from the years of not having Mass in the heart of the city. This is a major part of why the diocese is considering selling their beloved Cathedral.
For us, we similarly empty ourselves by our absence from daily prayer, our unattendance at the weekend Mass, and our cavalier lack of good works. It always seems to be no big deal at the time (ie: what harm is there is missing just this one time?). Yet, those are the cracks from-which come the floodgates of secularization. If prayer, Mass, and good works are no big deal this weekend, then why would they be important any other weekend, one might ask. Lent is not her yet, but let’s correct as much of our shortcomings now so we can have a stronger Lent.
God be near,