Sunday, January 23, 2005

Well New Jersey got hit with its first real snow of the winter. And it kind of shows how interesting people can be. Now, it was not only the 12+ inches of snow (I've lived in the Midwest, so I know that's not huge), but it was the high winds, up to 50 mph gusts, which made things very dangerous. The Governor of NJ issued a Snow Emergency, which basically means, "only emergency vehicles and plows are allowed on the road, so if we see anyone else we will give you a big fine." Just as he issued it last night the hospital called saying that they had someone who was dying and the family wanted them anointed. Yours truly was on duty. There was no way I was going to drive in the mess (I have a puny Hyundai Accent, but even with my big bulk, I feared it would be blown all over the road), so I started to dress up like Commodore Perry to walk the 6 blocks to the hospital, hoping I could get there and back in time to celebrate the 7:30 pm Mass (it really does not pay, at least not in an urban parish, to cancel Mass because there will always be a few people who will come anyway and then complain, "well we made it. You priests live right next door, so come say the Mass."). My pastor told me, "No way." He suggested that I get our maintenance guy, who was ploughing our parking lot in his 4x4 to drive me, but then he said we would not make any more hospital runs because of the weather. As I was walking into the hospital the beeper went off again, with another call (this was more irksome because the hospital had given the beeper number to a family member in FL, so they could plead with Father to go anoint their father despite the blizzard. Giving the beeper number away is a BIG NO-NO). So I did both and rushed back to say Mass. Eight people showed up. For the first four Masses this morning we had less than 50 people combined. This was really low, given we are a parish of 4000 families. However, given the horrendous weather, it was most understandable. One lady, who came into my 10:45am Mass right at the beginning of the Our Father, stopped me after Mass to explain that it took her (and her 9 year-old daughter) longer to walk to church then she expected, and wanted to know if it would still count for their Sunday obligation. I told her that in normal circumstances it wouldn't, but given the most unusually weather I thought it would because their intention was good. I told her to take a Missalette home and read the Readings to her daughter and talk about them if she was really worried about it, but to get home safe and enjoy some hot chocolate. See, another sign that I am not the heartless, rubricist that some accuse me of being.

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