Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Grotto-goers: Did you know....

This is something that affects all parishes, I'm sure. Collections go down in the summer as people vacation. Collections in resort towns go up during peak vacation periods.

I only learned recently that summer is when our parish builds some funds to go towards the very expensive winter heating bills. Inasmuch as our own utility bills have gone up, imagine how much more for a place like Grotto with stories-high empty spaces to heat.

In addition to vacation, some Grotto-goers escape the heat by opting for air-conditioned churches near their homes. Health conditions suffered by some mandate this - such as asthma and heart problems, especially for those unaccustomed to the heat. The rest of us I hope are considering the great opportunity for mortification - to offer up our suffering united with Christ's (Col 1:24) for some good cause, like those without homes, or the poor souls in purgatory.

I thought about escaping to a parish near me in the summer when I discovered just how hot an old church can get without air-conditioning. What changed my mind that day in 2005 (the summer I first discovered Grotto) and had me choose sweat over comfort was a little speech given by our pastor, Fr. Perrone, on the very day I jokingly whispered into my cousin's ear that I would be spending the rest of summer in my old parish. It was late June and it had been over 90 for several days. As I sat there thinking about how many times I actually went to "St. Suburbia" in shorts over the years, with air-conditioning, I noticed when Fr. Perrone walked by at the start of Mass that he was wound tightly up the neck in what I would later learn is called an amice. I mean, not a thread of his daily clerical garb or collar were showing, nor should it according to the GIRM (336). My first thought was, "Wow! How hot is he in all of those vestments".

Throughout the Mass, Father, altar boys and lector were all stoic. If the heat was bothering them as it was me, you could barely see them whipe any sweat off their brow, and all had additional layers of clothing on for the Mass.

As he completed his homily that day, Father matter-of-factly turned to the congregation and said something along these lines:

"Summer is obviously here. I know there will be a temptation to come here in shorts and tank-tops. This is not a fashion show, it is the sacrifice of the Mass."

Lifting his arms into the air to show his wardrobe he said, "I would ask you to consider if there is anything you could wear that is appropriate for Mass that could be hotter than what I am wearing right now."

Needless to say, I sheepishly crouched in my pew at how I was considering abandoning my new found parish for a cushy seat in an air-conditioned parish for the summer. It was at that point I silently told God that if my pastor and priests were committed to celebrating holy Mass in all those vestments, and even providing us with weekly Eucharistic Processions in the heat, then I should give them the courtesy of my attendance at Assumption Grotto for Mass.

The priests lead by example, offering up their suffering through the same heat we must endure, but with much more clothing.

Fr. John during Corpus Christi 2006, which was exceptionally hot. The priest doesn't put on shorts or cut back on vestments at Grotto, no matter the tempterature or conditions.

Back to collections, if you really can't be there, you may want to consider a way to keep a steady flow of money going in to our parish even when you cannot be there. Current bills still have to be paid on time and money needs to be saved for winter bills.

Consider dropping your envelope in the mail while you are away, or in my case, I'm going to take advantage of my online banking and just set something up weekly for the year. Anything else that comes up, I can always put in aside from that weekly amount.

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