Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Snow days are a disaster! I hear from teachers at Holy Cross and other area schools, the kids are all mixed up. Days on, days off, no rhythm or rhyme to the process. Class work is disjointed, not following easily from day to day. As much as some of us might not like to admit it, we are people of routine. If we fall out of the habit it is hard to get back on track.
Masses here at church have been the same. Broadcast threats of storms that never quite materialized kept a lot people home, preferring not to go out and take a chance. One weekend attendance was less than half the normal attendance and the weather never really materialized, the roads were clear, it was our doorsteps or driveways that were slick. On the other hand, on another weekend we did have a lot of weather.
There is a truism that goes like this: “It is not wise to do something foolish.” But sometimes it is foolish to be so controlled by others, particularly media who sell a lot of advertising if they can prove that a lot of people tune into their scary weather predictions. It has reached the level of foolishness, I think, how we have lost our nerve, or our courage to try. One lady told me she stayed home last weekend because she heard on the radio that there were icy patches, only realizing later that they were talking about the mountains in West Virginia.
It is also hard on a parish when Masses are not even near half-full. And I’m not talking financially (though these weekends do represent a huge hit). I’m talking about the momentum we have built spiritually, gathering for prayer, building ourselves up as a community, growing in our penance and special practices as a parish family, praying together. It seems that, out of the forty days of Lent, we’ve already had a lot of holidays. Two of the first three Sundays of Lent were very light. People stayed home from Forty Hours and our parish mission. What may have been progress early on in the season of Lent may stalled: what can be done?
Like kids in school, we are easily distracted and it takes a lot of energy to get back on track, but we still have a couple of weeks left: take the time you need to save Lent, if you need to. When I need to pay closer attention to work that isn’t getting done, I rely on a daily list. (People harass me for the way I use lists all the time; I have lists of lists.) But sometimes the physical action of writing it down will help to assure that it gets done.
Add prayer to your Outlook calendar. Ask your wife or husband or kids to help you to get it done. Express a priority for these things with those you love and ask them to complete them with you. Mass, and prayer, service, almsgiving for the poor, fasting, little sacrifices here and there—these are all things that we can do with one another to strengthen our resolve and improve our focus, and refocus. They will help us to be prepared for that moment when we recommit ourselves to the promises of baptism that we made years ago, or were made for us, that we must own again at Easter to move forward.
Here is a quick list of some ideas, they are called the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Our confirmation candidates should be well aware of these by now. Here’s a checklist—mark all the ones you can realistically complete before Holy Week and check your progress before you go to bed at night. You might be surprised how natural these are to who you are!
Spiritual Works of Mercy Corporal Works of Mercy
¤ To instruct the ignorant. ¤ To feed the hungry.
¤ To counsel the doubtful. ¤ To give drink to the thirsty.
¤ To admonish sinners. ¤ To clothe the naked.
¤ To bear wrongs patiently. ¤ To shelter the homeless.
¤ To forgive offences willingly. ¤ To visit the sick.
¤ To comfort the afflicted. ¤ To visit the imprisoned.
¤ To pray for the living and the dead. ¤ To bury the dead.
All seven of the first group are possible, practically on a moment-to-moment basis of our daily life. The second group requires some preparation and homework. Still, all of these are close to home and our parish does these things everyday. Maybe you could get involved in any number of ways that allow us to complete these commands.
God bless you.