I lived through Snowmaggedon. I know, you are shocked that those of us on the East Coast weren’t flash frozen where we stood, in a kind of cold-weather Pompeii. From all the hype, I figured I was going to wake up to something out of The Day After Tomorrow, with only the tip of Lady Liberty’s torch peeking out from under the massive drifts.
But no. Just snow. A lot of snow, but not the end of the world. (Good, I’m really not ready for the real Armageddon.)
We didn’t have a dispensation from Mass here, just an admonition from the Archdiocese to “exercise prudent judgement” regarding Sunday travel. Since I will happily drive in any weather, and my judgement really isn’t ever prudent, I
couldn’t come up with didn’t have an excuse for not getting myself to Mass. (We live in a culture where a cantankerous socialist and a crass bombast are a stone’s throw from the White House and there is an assumption of “prudent judgement”? But I digress.)
I love the pared-down simplicity of the daily Mass, and this Sunday had that feel. No music, no formal entrance, just a community of maybe 30 people worshiping together in a way that felt eternal. At the Eucharistic Prayer, Father Mark called us to stand around the altar, creating an intimacy to the sacrament that brought to mind the worship of the first Christians. We weren’t dressed up, many of us had boots and hats on. We had made an effort to get to church and there we were, standing with our small community celebrating the same eternal sacrifice.
Yes, it was worth going out in the snow.
From my sunny sixty degree perch in Houston, I had great fun watching all of the Facebook frenzy of our East Coast friends and The Snow. That panda? Forget about it! Now that you mention it, many of the pre-storm posts were unwittingly Eucharistic since they were about stocking up on bread and wine to get through the storm (see Campbell’s soup commercial). I’m guessing for many domestic churches this weekend, wine consumption was more than sacramental.
Is it weird to be a little jealous? I never thought I would say I miss snow days but I do miss the sense that time is suspended. Sounds are muffled. Activities are pared down to the essentials. We are forced to slow down. It mirrors your experience of the Mass this weekend, pared down to just the essentials.
I am always blown away that this ritual has been fairly consistent from early Christianity to present day. Your experience reminded me that many of the prayers and responses we take for granted in Mass are the exact words spoken at the meetings of the early Christians. How cool is that?
Believe it or not, we had snow and Mass this weekend, too. My kiddos got to experience manufactured frozen fun at our neighborhood Snow Day, including the life-altering realities of a frozen slush ball in the face. At Mass, we struggled to get through the readings, lots of songs, lots of crayons, lots of fights and lots of distractions – just a long service.
Although the ritual of the Mass is universal, the experience is not. We often miss a sense of connection and the real presence of Jesus can get lost in the shuffle. I would love the kids to have your snow day Mass, where it is pared down to just the essentials: community, bread and wine. A simple shared experience, where real time is suspended. Then they might understand how the strength of the Eucharist can draw people together and why people WANT to go to Mass.
And what about other essentials? Sorry, for milk and toilet paper, you’re on your own.
Wishing you minimal slush, black ice, a quick thaw and love,