Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Wednesday morning the weather was horrible! The schools were closed (again) and driving was treacherous. The people who plow parking lots were so far behind that the great lots of the Church of Saint Clare had not even been touched.

From my window I looked down to the front drive to see an older lady battling the ice and wind to make it to the early mass. Walking around the back of the Church there was a man with an oxygen tank navigating the piles of snow in order to get into the Church. Inside there were people there who even when the weather is good you almost wish they would stay home for safety sake. Yet who are the one who are always there even in a snowstorm? Who are the only ones who do not complain about having to kneel?

Back in the big storms of the 1970’s my mother looked outside one morning to find the city pretty much shut down. She woke me up, Dad put cross-country skies on my feet and I was given orders to get up to the Church and help Fr. Ozimek say mass. A number of times in that freezing winter I was thusly sent up there (which I took to enjoying as people laughed or cheered while they did their best to dig themselves out from under feet of the white stuff.)

Yet there was more the Fr. Ozimek and I there. Mrs. Baily, the organist in her 70’s was also there unfailingly. When big burly men in their youth with big trucks sat at home watching T.V. for having been spared going to work because the roads were un-navigable, this woman in her 70’s puttered up to Sacred Heart Church and sat down at the organ bench as if it were any other day.

I used to wonder what motivated these people. Why do they above everyone else show up at mass even when the priests think it ridiculous for them to be there?

Someone answered this question for me the other day. “Father,” he said, “When every day you have to push just to get through the day, when everything is a trial, then you don’t stop. You just push on like you always do. It’s just another day.”


That puts me in mind of the faith of Mother Theresa and the public’s concern that she experienced dark moments in her life – or Padre Pio’s bouts with spiritual dryness – or any other number of saints. These people did not carry on with the faith because it was easy but because it was The Faith. They pushed on. None of them, not one, sat around and wondered, “Why?” “Why me God?” Why does this have to happen?” “Why can’t I be better?” Rather they ask the question, “Now what?” (I think Rob suggested this months back.) Instead of licking their own wounds and staring at their own navels (a little of that goes a long way) they determine their resources and lavishly spend what they have left on God like the woman in 1 Kings 17 who says, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” Yet she did as Elija asked.

A person without serious faith would have called her stupid or at least not very far sighted. But to those of faith she was pushing forward giving to God what she had just like those who crawl into mass not matter what.

You push on.

There’s a certain amount of glory in that.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you. I SO needed this today.

Odysseus said...

-I think Rob suggested this months back.-

If it was truly wise, then I certainly said it.

If it was foolish, someone else said it.

Anonymous said...

I recall the oldest man on the planet aching away in the pew in front of me and a fellow fruit loop one crazy morn. How'd he even GET here?? I watched him begin to massage the part of his back where it began to twist decades ago, but he stopped himself. Then I noticed that he didn't dare scratch his paper-thin ear, but rubbed what itched there; he must've known it would tear open otherwise. His standing from a sitting position began to make me hold my breath each time--I could almost hear the dry bones within getting ready to break. His response to pain at Mass: he made himself stand even straighter! OW!!

He must've been 109, but at the end of Mass, he put on his cap with both hands, turned around, put his hands on his hips and said, "So, girls.. is everything under control?"

We 3 fell about the place, rocking with laughter at this ageless and very courageous imp. It put me in mind of how Paul said in the Kingdom there was no more male or female, servant or free.. Ha, there was no more younger or older, either. Oh, God love those dinosaurs of the Mass. Seriously, my heroes.

Anonymous said...

PS.. something tells me that the-altar-boy-who-would-be-priest was given an even heartier-than-usual breakfast after he ski'd back home on those mornings.

Unknown said...

Your pop sounds like one tough apple - a man's man. I can't imagine a lot of Cleveland youth in the 1970s being given marching (er, "skiing") orders by their old man to get to Mass when the world was mid-blizzard.

His discipline and dedication seems to have paid off in spades.

(TO ROB: Rob, do you SEE what the noble character of our good Ohio people begets? Hmmm? It is a special gift by the Grace of God to be an Ohioan!)

Anonymous said...

The more I learn about Ohio and the people who inhabit the state, the more I want to live there.

Do you think Ohio could handle a MN transplant like myself?

You all are so...NICE! And genuine!

Unknown said...

Of course you would do well here, Adoro! But my advice is to stay in the North of the state - the snowbelt. Snow purifies people and makes them sensible!

Today's post shows just that!

Odysseus said...

Simple Sinner,

So it comes to this! Carrying our regional dispute to a priest's personal blog. Now the gloves come off!

Anonymous said...

Ohio is rather flat, tho'. I would walk funny there.. as a matter of fact, I did walk funny there. I was following people into a huge school for daughter's Crim. Justice grad somewhere between Akron, Toledo and the park where Old Ned is buried, and everyone was walking slowly, talking, laughing.. not the least bit frantic to get a good seat! It was like being a New England ball in a pinball machine from heck -- there were kind, cordial bumpers everywhere. I was scared.

Unknown said...

Rob I hadn't been aware that there was any dispute about my region's greatness!

You may wish to leave your gloves on... it may be snowing again here soon!

...supposes its possible a boy from Arizona who grew up to become a priest has a story of walking to Mass in the heat....

Odysseus said...

And your little dog, too!

Anonymous said...

Wow. All I said was that people in Ohio are genuinely nice and suddenly the gloves are off and it's snowing and war has been declared between north and south!

Maybe I'll just stay in Minnesota...where the gloves stay ON all year round.

Anonymous said...

Just Me - Ohio is rather flat...yes, if you go south of Medina. Cleveland has the ledges in the Emerald Necklace. A great way to hike about!

Adoro - come on down anytime! You're always welcome. LM

Anonymous said...

Last Weds when we were off school cause of massive amounts of snow I went to mass at my parish which is 25 mins away. Yesterday when we were off cause of ice I went to mass at a parish closer to home. Now I am a winter person and skier so the snow doesn't bother me but ice does. I have been called stupid by my pastor for travelling in bad weather but there is something about worshipping with those you have become a family with in your own parish.

Fr. V said...

Now, now guys. Play nice. Truth is hard to accept sometimes.

THis would be easy to settle you know. You should all come to town for the Vatican exhibit and see Ohio for yourself.

Adoro said...

I'd be perfectly willing to come to Ohio, in spite of all the infighting. After all, I'm Catholic...I'm used to it!

But I need a plane ticket, (or gas money), somewhere to stay, and a tour guide. Because all you I wanna visit are all over the state!

Fr. arrange it and pray for it, I'll come visit...if you could find me a "home" for a few days. :-)

You know everyone....I need a job in July because I'm unemployed then. If you know of anyplace that needs a speaker so badly they are willing to pay for a plane ticket and hotel...or arrange a family to stay with, etc. Well...I'm game.


I'm just sayin'...

Unknown said...

This served as my inspiration to shovel my way out and make a 45 minute trip to my parish 8 miles away Sunday...

When I got there I remembered the feast - the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste - who were martyred by hypothermia being forced to stand on a frozen lake when they refused to make an offering of a grain of incense before an idol of the emperor...

With that in mind, driving very slowly on the ice, did not seem so bad. I am glad I went.

Thank you for the inspiration!