Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A (winter) day in a pastor's life...

I'm cooling my heels (almost literally) this morning as the latest snowstorm blows over. Seems like a good time to give you another peek into how things are for a pastor.

The big project these days is snow. Everyone got hit last Friday and Saturday, then again yesterday, and more today. Here in Piqua, the mounds are pretty high. The job of clearing snow in such situations is more than any one person can do; whether you are out and about, or staying home, say a prayer for all those who are clearing snow in these storms.

That included me this time. I am a little chagrined to admit it, but until recently, I haven't been all that familiar with how a snow blower operates. Before I entered the seminary, I always used a shovel to remove snow, and so I did since. A few times, here in Piqua, I've asked someone to show me how to use a snow blower, but it didn't happen. Well, last night I finally got a tutorial, and managed not to mow down a bush or run into anything; but I can't say that I was all that efficient.

We had a funeral this morning--with a priest scheduled to come up from Cincinnati, at the request of the family. About 8:15 pm last night, the four of us who were cleaning up the snow all around St. Mary Church and the school--pretty much a full city block--we're looking with satisfaction at every walk cleared, the lot cleared, and all the walks and steps salted.

Then this morning, I didn't even look that closely right away...but when I did, oops! So we got out and cleared things up again. The other folks did most of it, I did a little, because I was also checking in with the family that arrived around 9 am, along with the funeral home, for a visitation in church before the Mass. I didn't look very priestly, I'm afraid, because I'd put on work clothes that were going to get soggy while working in the snow. After doing a bit with the snow, I came back, cleaned up and dressed appropriately, and went over to see if the visiting priest had made it. If not, I was there to offer the Mass.

But he had made it, as had two of the four servers. The Mass was to be in Spanish, which I cannot do; I can manage a few words, that's all. I chatted with him, making sure all was in order, then left him to take care of things.

Meanwhile, I'm making calls around to folks. We have a 24-hour chapel, that usually never closes, but when we have bad weather like this, we do close it. I called the retired priest who was scheduled for Mass this evening, and suggested I take the Mass, since I will have to be out and about, and that way he doesn't take any chances.

The question comes up, what about cancelling Mass? My answer is, if the priest can get there, we'll have Mass; what is the alternative? If I don't show up, someone else, who didn't get word Mass was cancelled, may still show up. So even if I put it on TV and radio...I still have to be there, "just in case." Besides, the Mass must be offered for the intention designated--if not that time, then on another occasion. So as I say, it comes back to, if the priest can get there, Mass will happen. In my situation, St. Mary is a few steps away, St. Boniface is a half-mile away. It would have to be very bad for me not to be able to walk that distance.

In a moment, I'm going to write my column for the bulletin; meanwhile, I'm fielding calls about this and that, but not going anywhere till the storm settles down. The city crews are out on the roads, and they don't need me getting in their way, and besides, everything is cancelled. The vicar and I are here, deciding who is going to handle the burial for the funeral this morning (the visiting priest cannot go), and who will take care of a visit to a nursing home that needs to happen sometime later today.

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