Sunday, April 8, 2018

2nd Sunday of Easter

2nd Sunday of Easter 
Acts 4:32-35
Ps 118
1 Jn 5:1-6
Jn 20:19-31

When preaching on this Second Sunday of Easter it is tempting to focus on Thomas, or Doubting Thomas, as he is colloquially known.  However, focusing on Thomas--to say nothing of his putative doubt--would miss deeper meanings found in today's readings. The Gospel is not about doubt.  It is about faith, as are the other readings.    

Faith is not the opposite of doubt. Faith and doubt are complementary.  Faith and doubt are interdependent.  Neither could exist without the other.  Mature faith must always contend with a degree of doubt, sometimes more and sometimes not so much.  But faith, as it matures, must struggle with or pass through, periods of doubt if not angry denial. 

Many of the first readings in the Easter Season are from Acts of the Apostles, a book written by Luke the Evangelist.  While lacking the magnificent prayers of his Gospel, Acts describes the earliest days of the Church, the first gatherings of the faithful, and the first ministries of the apostles.  Acts of the Apostles is our history as a Church and as a people.  It is our spiritual genealogy.  

In the first reading we hear how "the community of believers was of one heart and mind," living in a manner that sounds almost idyllic and marked by sharing of resources. As the days go by we will learn that the ideal did not continue without problems, conflict, anger, disagreement, disaffection, and desertion. One would expect nothing else as the Church, then and now, is made up exclusively of imperfect human beings who are nonetheless loved by God.  A short term for the phenomenon is sinners.  Once we become too convinced of our fundamental goodness or rightness we are on a slippery slope to conflict.  Quite a bit of conflict marked the early Church.  At times that conflict was necessary to her development, growth, and maturation.  

The reading from the First letter of John and John's Gospel are about faith.  The second reading presents the problem that each verse could be the basis for a homily on faith.  "And the victory that conquers the world is our faith."  So it does. 

We must ask ourselves if our faith depends on signs and wonders, miracles, and prayers granted in the way we want them granted. Does our faith exist only in good times?  This of course brings up the fundamental question. What is faith? 

The Letter to the Hebrews gives a definition of faith that is unsurpassed for brevity and accuracy: “Now faith is the conviction of things not seen.”  In his Letter to the Romans Paul reminds us that “Faith comes from what is heard and what is heard comes by the preaching of Jesus Christ.”  That preaching of Jesus Christ does not come to us only in oral form, as it did during the Sermon on the Mount, the discourses in John’s Gospel, or Jesus' private discussions with the Twelve.  Jesus’ preaching comes to us in scripture, it comes through the tradition of the Church. It is manifest most perfectly in the Eucharist and the prayers of the Mass.  

The apostles and other disciples did not grasp the reality of Jesus’ resurrection immediately afterwards despite Jesus having foretold all that would happen.  Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus at the empty tomb. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were clueless about the man who joined them during their sad walk, recognizing Jesus only in the breaking of the bread.  Today's Gospel tempts us to use Thomas as an exampleagainst whom to compare ourselves in a self-righteous manner, as in, "Well, I never would have doubted." 

This particular Gospel passage ends with Jesus asking a question--“Have you believed because you have seen me?"--and pronouncing a blessing--"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  It is for the latter group, those who have not seen and yet believe, it is for us, that the Gospel was written.  

The gospels were not meant to be--and most decidedly are not-- albums of verbal snapshots. They were not meant to depict and record every episode from Jesus' life.  There are not video clips anywhere.  The gospels are not a log-book that traces Jesus daily movements nor are they a diary of Jesus’ day-to-day thoughts.  The gospels are definitely not history in the modern understanding of the word.   Any attempt to read the gospels through the lens of modern historiography, any attempt to limn the "historical Jesus," is doomed to failure.  We can never interpret the gospels in the light of the modern concept of journalism--whatever journalism means today--without frustration and ultimate faithlessness.  The less said about "Historical Biblical Novels" such as The DaVinci Code the better.  One learns little about Jesus from these sad self-aggrandizing attempts but a great deal about the writer.  The current embarrassing and appalling so-called theologian at the College of the Holy Cross is a useful illustration. 

The last sentences of today's Gospel puts all the fatuous attempts to reconstruct some sort of historical Jesus according to modern norms and desires into perspective. “Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name.” 

The Gospel proclaims one essential truth: that Jesus of Nazareth of whom it speaks is the Lord. Thus, the complete fullness of Easter joy is contained in Thomas’ startled, doubt-free, faith-filled, and ultimately joyous proclamation:  "My Lord and My God." 

That one essential truth is why we too can gaze upon the Body and Blood of Christ present on this altar and say, “My Lord and My God.”  

"Give thanks to the Lord, 
for He is good, 
His love is everlasting."
 _______________________________________

Some photos from Holy Week at the Abbey.  Was staying in a different house than usual along with another priest.  Great house with many photographic opportunities.  Built sometime in the 1800s but I don't know when.   This is the kind of setting made for black and white conversion.  One of the great things with digital photography is the ability to shoot in color and convert into black and white.  As I shoot almost exclusively in RAW, resulting in very large files and no loss of data, all the photos are in color.  However, upon clicking the black and white option in processing and then playing with light, shadow, and filters, the results are very good.  I love black and white photography and looking and black and white photos.  Without the distraction of color one can focus on other characteristics such as the interplay of light and shadow, shape, texture, and other attributes of the photo.  Another advantage is that in certain conditions, and this house had them, it is easier to work with black and white than color.  Any manipulations to the color versions results in some unnatural looks to the furniture.  The various lighting sources play a major role.  

The time at the Abbey was deeply consoling though also physically exhausting.  I celebrated Palm Sunday and the Triduum, and concelebrated the other Masses.  The traffic home was not too bad but was getting very heavy.  Having given up alcohol for Lent I drove directly to the Jesuit residence, grabbed a sandwich and two beers.  I needed nothing more for the afternoon.  

The main room of the house.  The floors are wide-plank.  There is a fireplace.  As I don't do fires on the hearth it stayed cold and I wore an extra sweatshirt of two.  

Shot this through the music stand of the piano. 

Who of my generation could look at the guts of a piano and not be reminded of the classic Tom and Jerry cartoon featuring Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2? 

A very comfortable chair for morning and evening meditation. 

The interplay of light, shadow, shape and texture drew me to this.  It is also the kind of photo that a non-photographer companion might find inexplicable as in "Why in the hell are you taking a dozen pictures of THAT?"

The entrance to the farmhouse.  I posted this on a photography site.  At least two members who responded named it the freezer door.  It is the back door to the house. 

 Two studies of light.  The first is the paschal candle, all fifteen pounds of it, in the sacristy at the church awaiting the blessing and lighting at the Saturday vigil.  The second is three sources of light in the house: the small clip-on halogen nightlight seen only in its light, the candle and the kerosene lamp.  


The sheer curtains in my bathroom.  It had a free-standing claw-foot tub.  I've seen people go nuts over claw-foot tubs, screeching how badly one is needed for the master bath.  Don't.  Getting out of them when wet and the bottom is soapy is not easy. 

Outdoors by the car and pond.  Looking straight up.  Am still trying to learn the new camera, particularly metering.  It is coming along.  Took multiple shots of this in an attempt to see what worked best.  

Have a Blessed Easter Season. 
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

Monday, April 2, 2018

Homily for the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday

All Seven Old Testament readings
Rom 6:3-11
Mk 16:1-7 
Liturgy speaks for itself if we listen carefully. This is particularly true of the Sacred Triduum that is celebrated so magnificently in all its fullness in this monastery. The liturgy speaks for itself at all times and in all places, from the hidden Masses of the Carthusians, to the splendor of this Abbey Church ringing with the ancient chants, to the parish noon Mass on the fourth Thursday in ordinary time. The prayers, readings, and actions are polyvalent. But they lead to, proclaim, and illuminate the same truth, the only truth. . . Jesus, Risen from the Dead
"Hæc nox est,
in qua, destrúctis vínculis mortis,
Christus ab ínferis victor ascéndit." 
"This is the night
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld."
God's first words in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, the beginning of history as we know it, are: “Let there be light.” And so we heard, 
"Hæc nox est,
de qua scriptum est:
Et nox sicut dies illuminábitur:
et nox illuminátio mea in delíciis meis."
"This is the night
that is as bright as day,
dazzling is the night
and full of gladness"
The paschal candle was carried into the church with the words: 
"Lumen Christi"
"Christ our Light." 
Each of us held that light as it spread from taper to taper filling this exquisite space with new light from the Paschal Candle.
"Hæc ígitur nox est,
quæ peccatórum ténebras
colúmnæ illuminatióne purgávit."
"This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
the darkness of sin was banished."
We will hold those candles again during the blessing of the water as we recall the parted waters of the Red Sea that gave the people, led by the column of fire, life and hope. We will renew our baptismal promises and recall the saving waters that gave us life.
Mark’s Gospel, the Good News of the Resurrection, is cinematically detailed. We know dawn was just breaking. We know what the women were carrying. We know their concerns about the size of the stone. Imagine the astonished looks when they saw that the stone had been rolled away and their chagrin when told, "He is not here." Place yourself in that scene. Stand there in amazement, confusion, and fear. What do you feel? What are you thinking? What do you want to say? 
"O vere beáta nox,
in qua terrénis cæléstia,
humánis divína iungúntur!"
"O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven
are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human."
With the final blessing a liturgy of fifty hours will end. We will go forth to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ our Lord. Listen again to the words from the blessing of the paschal candle. They tell us everything we need to know.
"Christ
yesterday and today
the beginning and the end.
Alpha and Omega;
all time belongs to him,
and all the ages;
to him be glory and power,
through every age forever." 
We can only add: 
Deo Gratias
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

___________________
I meant to post this after the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday.  Foolish idea.  The Mass began at 8 PM and ended at 11 PM.  By the time we got back to the house it was close to midnight.  I'm not certain I could remember my computer password by then.  Celebrating the entire Triduum at the abbey is a great privilege.  It is also physically grueling
.  The candle in the photo below is 15 pounds.  The priest is the only one to carry it.  

It took about five minutes to get a taper lit from the paschal fire before the Paschal Candle could be lit.  The wind was shipping in multiple directions.  Rather than chanting the first Lumen Christi on the small porch outside the monastic church we took it inside the vestibule where there was no wind.  It stayed lit the entire time.  

Drove home yesterday immediately after the morning Mass.  I made the mistake of remaining for lunch several years ago resulting in an extra hour on the the normally 2 1/2 drive from CT to Boston.  By the time I got off the Mass Pike traffic was getting quite heavy.  

The photo shows the paschal candle that had just been brought into the sacristy wrapped in a wool blanket.  The tray contains the stylus needed to inscribe the candle, the grains of incense, and the nails that are inserted over the grains of incense.  The Abbey makes  its own candles.  This one was made three years ago so as to allow it to cure.  


Have a most Blessed Easter
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

Friday, March 30, 2018

Homily on Good Friday

St. John Passion

"Ibi ergo propter parasceven Judaeorum quia juxta erat monumentum, posuerunt Jesum."

"So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by."

The drama had ended. Everything seemed to have ended. We now enter deeper into the silence of the Triduum. We enter into the silence of the tomb. We try to comprehend the incomprehensible.

The second reading in the breviary tomorrow begins with the haunting words. "Something strange is happening. There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep."

In this profound silence of Good Friday, a silence that continues into the oddness of Holy Saturday, we are placed in the tomb with Christ. We meditate on that which we cannot grasp. We contemplate how Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, chose to become vulnerable. We are mute as we consider how He who is infinite, the Alpha and the Omega, accepted the humiliation of the cross, a death reserved for the lowest of the low. We stand in awe at Jesus' ultimate act of self-emptying love. 

They laid the King there for the tomb was close by.
Silence covered the earth.

We adore thee oh Christ
and we bless thee,
because by Thy holy cross
Thou hast redeemed the world.
_____________________________________
The photo was taken while on the long retreat during tertianship in Sevenhill, South Australia. We made the retreat during Lent, ending just before Palm Sunday and then returning to Sydney for the Triduum. The crucifix was in the choir loft of the church in preparation for the veneration of the cross on Good Friday. Just finished the Good Friday liturgy about an hour ago.


Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A reading from the Gospel According to Matthew (27:3-10)

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”  They said, “What is that to us?  See to it yourself.”

And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple he departed; and he went and hanged himself.  But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.”  So they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore, that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the son’s of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
_________________________________

Imagine the scene in the chambers of the officials. Place yourself there.  Become a bystander or a servant. Perhaps you are one of the elders or the doorkeeper.  Place yourself in that room and observe the scene. Are the officials passing out cigars?  Are they slapping each other on the back because they got the conviction they wanted?  Are they relieved because this trouble-maker, this “King” of the Jews, will no longer be a force to contend with?  And then the door slams into the wall.  Judas Iscariot pushes his way past the doorkeeper and through the crowd. What does his face look like?  How does his voice sound as he blurts out, “I have sinned.”?

What do you feel as you observe the scene?  Are you annoyed?  Are you confused?  What’s going on?  Suddenly, the thirty pieces of silver hit the floor, clanking as they scatter. Judas flees. He looks stricken. Impulsively you follow him out.   You want to say something—anything.

You follow him but he is moving fast. You try to catch up but you have to rest and get your breath.  You start to move again. He can only go in one direction. You try to pick up your pace.  You must catch up with him but your legs are like lead.

And then in the distance you see his silhouette.

He is mounting a tree stump.

The rope is looped over the tree.

He loops the noose around his neck and tightens it. 

You try to scream . . . DON’T!

Before the scream can form he leans forward and the stump tumbles to the ground.

It is over.  

The sun is setting.  The breeze is picking up. You draw your cloak more tightly to your body as a defense against the chill wind.  Judas’ body swings in the breeze.  You begin to retrace your steps, walking slowly back toward town.

The pathos is more than Judas betraying Jesus.  Peter also betrayed Jesus.  The pathos is that, unlike Peter, Judas could not imagine being forgiven by the one against whom he had sinned.

We’ll never know what drove Judas to betray Jesus. But we can wonder. Some scholars suggest that Judas betrayed Jesus because he had become disillusioned with Him. Like many others, even today, Judas was expecting and wanting a political Messiah.  He wanted a Messiah who would lead the Jewish people out from the Roman occupation. By turning him over to the authorities Judas may have been trying to force Jesus to act like the revolutionary leader he wanted him to be.

No matter what Judas’ motives were, these verses from Matthew’s Gospel following his act of betrayal describe one of the great tragedies in scripture, the tragedy of Judas' despair.  The tragedy, too common in the lives of many today, the tragedy of ceasing to believe in God.  Judas betrayed Jesus.  Judas was, in his turn, betrayed by those who used him to get to Jesus.

Did Judas kill himself from despair over having betrayed Jesus?  Or did he kill himself because he was angry that he himself was betrayed?   Did he take his own life because he was played like a cheap guitar?   “What is that to us?  See to it yourself.”  Harsh words. In the end at least two things drove Judas to suicide:  anger at being a fool and despair upon thinking he could never be forgiven by one whom he had betrayed.

A few years ago, I was sorting the belongings of a just deceased Jesuit.  On his bookshelfI found a battered book of daily meditations written by an anonymous Jesuit. The original was very old having been translated from French into English in 1868.  A meditation based on this Gospel passage gives sound advice even for today. It reads in part:  "Never let us count on help, sympathy, or respect, from those whom we have served against our own conscience and against the law of God."  In short: Never trust the untrustworthy.

A bit later the writer gets to the heart of Judas’ sin, his belief “that his crime was unpardonable was disbelief in God . . .”  When Judas believed his sin could not be forgiven he stopped believing in God. It was then that despair spiraled down and drove him to violent suicide.

Standard dictionaries define despair as loss of hope, hopelessness, to give up, to be without hope.  In this narrative, however, despair has a more complex meaning. One theological source defines despair as the voluntary and complete abandonment of all hope of saving one’s soul.  The voluntary abandonment of hope in salvation. The intentional denial of the meaning of Jesus’ saving act, that saving act we recall today.

Despair is not passive, it is a conscious choice.  The sin of despair is an act of the will. It is an act that chooses to give up any hope of eternal life.  Despair whispers in our ear that God will not pardon our sins.  And we believe that whispered message just as Judas believed that God would not pardon his sin. 

We can only pray that that kind of despair never controls us, no matter what, no matter when, no matter why.  Yes, we are sinners.  But we are sinners loved by God.  We are sinners loved by God who pardons our sins when we acknowledge them, when we confess them, and when we seek pardon, while resolving to amend our lives. 

As we ponder Judas' action, as we stand speechless over his ultimate act of violence that grew out of despair, we recall Jesus’ words on the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Judas was included in that forgiveness.  Or could have been included in that forgiveness.  But, it was too late.  He ceased believing he could know God’s forgiveness and love.  He rejected the possibility and condemned himself to a death from which he could not be saved.
 _____________________________________
Spy Wednesday.  The plans hatched for Jesus' betrayal by Judas.  Obviously more of a tradition that something one can know for sure.  This morning's gospel was from the chapter of Matthew preceding this one.  This particular homily was one I wrote several years ago when asked to preach at the service of the Seven Last Words at the Welsh Baptist Church back home in Plymouth, PA.  Rev. Anita Ambrose, recently retired long time pastor, invited me to preach there for several years in a row.  It is too far to make the trip now and there are no longer many reasons to go to Plymouth.  This year I am celebrating the Triduum at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, an abbey of cloistered Benedictine nuns.  






 +Fr. Jack, SJ, MD


Monday, March 26, 2018

Homily for Palm Sunday

Dag Hammarskjöld wrote:
"On Christmas Eve
Good Friday was foretold them
In a trumpet fanfare." 
Despite Hammarskjöld's insight, nothing of our celebration three months ago today prepared us for the narrative just proclaimed. The festivity that marked Jesus' entry into Jerusalem turned quickly to fury. The hosannas and palm branches became the sarcastic 'Hail, King of the Jews' and blows to his head. The community of the Passover Supper dispersed leaving Jesus alone. The cacophony of the parade in Jerusalem devolved into the silence surrounding death. 
Today we begin our own journeys to Jerusalem, journeys that each of us must experience in a unique solitude. 
On Holy Thursday we will recall the institution of the Eucharist, the True Body and Blood of Our Lord. On Good Friday we will silently venerate the cross, the instrument of our salvation. After dark, the odd emptiness of Holy Saturday will finally be filled with light. 
And so we say of the one who came to save us from sin and death, "Blessed is He, who comes in the name of the Lord." 

Monday, March 5, 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent

Ex 20:1-17
Ps 19
I Cor 1:22-25
Jn 2:13-25

The readings today are rich.  Each could be the basis for a very long homily. It is a temptation I will resist.  God as revealed in the first reading is not a God of relativism, accommodation, negotiation, or adaptation to social trends. The same is true of the Jesus we encounter in John's Gospel.

The Ten Commandments are short and to the point.  Among the 'thou shalt nots' are prohibitions against killing, stealing, adultery, and lying.  Among the 'thou shalts' we find honoring God's name, keeping holy the sabbath, and honoring one's parents.

"Thou shalt not kill" does not make an exception for abortion because it is called delivery of women’s health care. 

“Honor thy father and mother" does make permit asking to have mom or dad, grandma or grandpa put down through what is now called, "physician guided death,' a euphemism I would label hilarious were it not so frightening. 

While the prohibition against adultery should be self-evident, it doesn't take long wading in the moral swamp of modern American life to get the idea that it is frequently ignored.  The first three commandments lead into the gospel.

"Have no false gods . . . "
This includes the false gods of commerce, sports, and ME.

"Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain . . . " 
This includes using Jesus' name as punctuation, a punch line, or a filler for the inarticulate.

"Keep holy the Sabbath . . . ."  This nicely covers the scene described in today's Gospel.

The second chapter of John‘s Gospel is 25 verses long. In the space between the end of verse 12, the Wedding at Cana, and the beginning of today's reading with verse 13, there is a massive change in tone. This particular gospel reading forces us to confront our ideas of who Jesus is and how He acts.  It is not a warm and fuzzy scene.  There is no warm, huggy, and smiling Jesus here.  For those for whom zeal for God’s house or observance of the commandments is a sometimes thing, for those whose faith and observance shifts with current social trends, the meeting with Jesus here is uncomfortable. 

As already mentioned the Jesus of the gospels is not a Jesus of accommodation to current social mores.  He is not one to adapt to what people want, to what everyone is doing. "Oh, c'mon Jesus, get with it, everybody is selling animals in the Temple these days."  "Keep your religion out of my life." "My body, Myself."  "I am the only one who can determine what is moral for me." 

The Jesus of the gospels challenged political authorities.  He challenged society at large in condemning adultery, divorce and extortion, among others.  The Jesus of the gospels called a spade a spade.  He did not cave into secular society.  He would not tolerate desecration of His Father’s house.   We do well to remember that. The scene of Jesus overturning tables in the Temple while driving the money changers out with a whip, bothers many. They are bothered because Jesus is not gentle, affirming, or negotiating. There is no way to manipulate his words to be anything than what they are.

The late Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow, made an insightful comment on this gospel passage in his commentary on John's Gospel.  “One puzzling aspect of the narrative is how generation after generation can hear this account and persist in clinging to their cherished image of Jesus. . . so 'gentle and mild' as to be incapable of overthrowing anything, (including) the reader’s smugness. . . . The Jesus in this, or any other gospel, is not a standard-bearer for bleeding hearts. The aim of the Gospel is not to provide us with the biography of an inspiring hero, who fits . . . our ambitions, conforms to our ideals, or meets our conceptions of what constitutes greatness.”

Perhaps Stanley might have included that Jesus was not a standard bearer for political correctness or the politics of either the left of the right.  Without zeal for God’s house the Church cannot survive.  Without that zeal we might as well stay in bed on Sunday and watch the shopping channel, football reruns, or 'The View.'  Only zeal for God's house, only time spent in prayer and contemplation, will allow us to understand the basic truth heard in the psalm.

“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart,
the command of the lord is clear,
enlightening the eye."

The Lord truly has the words to everlasting life.

If we are willing to hear them.
___________________________________________________________


The photo was taken at the National Shrine of the Immaculate conception in D.C. several years ago. It is of the altar rail gate at the main altar. Any man age 65 and up who was an altar boy in grade school has those words seared into his memory. They were the first words after the sign of the cross at the foot of the altar. Father intoned these words and we responded, ad Dei qui laetificat juventutam meam. Translation: "I will go unto the altar of God." "The God who gives joy to my youth." 
Homily late being posted. The weekend did not go according to plan. Originally was to be in D.C. yesterday to celebrate the monthly Slovenian Mass at the chapel of our Lady of Brezje at the National Shrine. Left Boston Thursday about 10 AM. Nice easy drive down. Was raining as I pulled into my cousin's house in the Poconos (the very edge). Rain just beginning. Rain quite hard a few hours later. The snow began at 6 AM. The wind shortly afterwards. The power went out at 11 AM. Fortunately restored at 8 PM or so. When all was said and done 8 inches of snow with much more in some surrounding areas. 
Saturday was not good. Roads locally a mess. Had no plan to take 81 to Baltimore (I avoid 81 unless it is warm, sunny, and no foul weather predicted in the next two weeks. Too many nightmare drives.) Got back yesterday afternoon. Crashed after supper. Once on 81 N and 84 E the trip was OK. Many fewer 18-wheelers than usual on a Sunday. No significant snow along 84 after Port Jervis. Matamoras was a different story.  
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD