The Effects of Snow in Church
Published: December 17, 2017
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Well, since my last column for The Carpenter our area experienced a remarkable snowfall on December 8. Maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call it “The Great Baton Rouge Blizzard of 2017,” but the amount of snow that fell and how long it lasted pretty much thrilled us all, didn’t it? I hope you got to go outside and play in it, or even better, go outside, have some hot chocolate and watch some children play in it!
The snowfall did decrease worship for the holy day of the Immaculate Conception, though. Bishop Muench dispensed the faithful of the diocese from the obligation to go to church, and most took him up on the offer! Here at the Cathedral we had only a few handfuls of people at our two Masses.
But the small numbers allowed us to be a bit creative. I brought everyone up into the sanctuary to be seated there around the altar, turned my chair around, and added a lectern facing them. I and the bishop celebrated our Masses facing the small congregation.
Both Masses were wonderful, intimate liturgies, something that’s hard to get here in our cavernous Cathedral building. Everyone who attended was so appreciative for the chance to be so close, and see what was really transpiring on the altar! And a couple of folks said they even liked being able to see my face “up close” too!
Bishop Muench said he also found our smaller experience of community gathered around the altar to be quite inspiring. The thing that I found so unexpectedly grace-filled was being able to look up in prayer at the altar and see the great Meštrović crucifix looking back down directly at me. I suspect the bishop thought the same. It’s a profound sight.
I hope your Advent continues to be full of moments of profound grace and gratitude. These won’t happen accidentally, of course, but if you keep your eyes and heart open, you will not be disappointed, since God never ignores us!
I’ll repeat here the whole Cathedral Christmas schedule (it’s also on our website, and in this issue of The Carpenter). Saturday, December 23, we’ll hold the usual Vigil Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent, and on Sunday morning, our 8 & 10 am Masses will be Advent Masses too. We won’t have a 12 noon Mass on December 24. Our celebration of Christmas begins on December 24 with the Christmas Vigil Mass at 4, and our “Christmas Mass in the Night” at 9 pm. (A musical program of baroque music and some caroling will precede beginning at 8:15 pm.) Christmas Day Masses on December 25 will be at 8 & 10 am.
Although possibly an inconvenience, remember that the Church asks us to attend Mass two times over the Christmas weekend, once for the Advent Sunday and once for Christmas. While if it’s absolutely impossible for you and your family to attend two Masses, there’s no sin, since no one is bound to the impossible. The clergy of the Diocese of Baton Rouge also can dispense from the obligation to attend Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation, and are always eager to be benevolent in such situations. But to live out our faith in the best way possible will entail two Eucharistic celebrations. Thanks for understanding.
Sincerely yours in the coming Christ,