Seeing Snowfall, Beholding the Mass

The first snowfall has officially happened in Collegeville and I honestly couldn’t be happier. In the Seattle/Portland area we didn’t often get snow, and when we did everyone went absolutely crazy. It is a very different experience hearing of the possibility of overnight snowfall here and not having people as excited as I was. Minnesotans are just used to it.

I look outside and think about how beautiful it all is. The way the snow falls on the ground so silently and peacefully and the way it makes everything just look that much more beautiful takes my breath away. How can anyone not be excited for this to happen every year? How can people become so used to something so beautiful that it doesn’t mean that much to them anymore?

Then I think about what things I have become numb to – specifically, the liturgy. The Eucharist is the source and summit of my faith, yet there are so many times I just breeze by it during Mass. The beauty of the liturgy at times loses its meaning to me just because it has become something so familiar, something that I see and experience so often. Like snow losing its beauty to my Midwestern friends, I don’t always see the liturgy as the mysterium tremendum et fascinans as frequently as I used to when I first became Catholic.

Though our familiarity with the liturgy can be a wonderful thing, it can also be a curse at times, making us become so used to its beauty that it is no longer special. As we prepare the coming Lord’s Day, it might be helpful to keep the beauty of the snow in mind to help us see the beauty of the liturgy in front of us.


  1. There can be a temptation to indulge an instinct – especially in American culture – that this experience is something that can be *relieved* by other means (by doing A, B, C,…Q, et cet. to/with the liturgy) rather than *penetrated*. A certain spiritual dryness (even dark nights of the soul and senses) seems to be a *typical* part of the maturation of Christian discipleship. Dryness, like pain, is among other things a form of information: particularly, of unfulfilled yearning/desire. Of Incompletion. And that, in the Ignatian sensibility, can actually be a sign of the presence of God. It doesn’t mean we should seek to stay in that dry place, but as Abraham and Sarah journeyed through the Syrian and other deserts, it’s an opportunity for us to retrain ourselves to align how we see/sense things with the way God does.

    However, one wouldn’t know how ordinary this is from listening to preachers and liturgical ministers. That’s not their/our fault: we are prone to be captured by our culture, because we are just human. Mentioning this can cause folks to break out in hives. But it would be a relief if we could move past that reaction.

    So, when you don’t feel or sense anything in particular, and maybe that’s irritating you somehow you can’t quite put into words: pay attention.

    How do we engage and be with what seems to be missing or absent in our lives?

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