November 17, 201905/19/2021
“God does great things beyond our knowing; wonders past our searching out. For he says to the snow, ‘Fall to the earth’; likewise to his heavy, drenching rain. He shuts up all mankind indoors; the wild beasts take cover and remain quietly in their dens” (Job 37:58).
Though winter doesn’t officially start for another month, winter weather has officially arrived. With our first snow storm of the season under our belt, it is that time again to shift gears in preparation for winter: time to get the winter clothes out of the back of the closet; time to switch over to winter tires; time to hook the plow or snowblower to the front of the tractor and to put the snow shovel in the back of the car; and time to think about how winter weather affects our attendance at Sunday Mass.
The Sunday Eucharistic liturgy is the beating heart of our lives as Catholics. It is when we regularly come together as a community of faith and strengthen our bonds of communion with Christ and each other, when we are nourished by God’s Word and sacrament, and when we are renewed in our mission to go out and invite others into that same saving relationship with God. Sunday Mass is absolutely vital to our faith life, which is why regular attendance at Sunday Mass is a precept of the Church and a serious moral obligation.
That said, God does not expect more from us than we can give, and he has given us the gift of reason to determine what the limits of our giving are. If we lived in a country where the Church is persecuted and we could be arrested and put to death for attending Mass, God might call us to offer the heroic witness of martyrdom and to risk our lives by attending Mass nonetheless. We do not live in such a country, at least not yet, and I do not believe that dying in a car accident on the way to Mass because of bad weather qualifies as martyrdom, nor do I believe that God wants us to do that. That is where exercising our gift of reason and good judgment comes into play.
If, in your best judgment, you determine that the weather and road conditions are such that you cannot safely drive to the church for Mass on a given Sunday, please stay home. Find another way to keep the Lord’s day holy, such as watching Mass on TV. Sunday Mass is available for viewing through the CW network at 10:00 AM and through cable or satellite on EWTN at 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM. You might also read and reflect on the Scripture readings for that Sunday’s Mass, which can be found for free at usccb.org or through the Word Among Us booklets available in the gathering space. You could also pray a rosary, alone or as a family. For those unfamiliar with the rosary, resources are again available at usccb.org, and we have plenty of rosaries and rosary guides available for free in the gathering space. Whatever you decide, the important thing is that you keep Sunday holy, and, when, in your best judgment, you cannot do so safely by coming to Mass, find another meaningful way for you and your family to spend some time with the Lord, regardless of how much snow is piling up outside.
Fr Marc Stockton