Winter in Milwaukee


So we’ve been having a bit of cold spell of late. In fact, this has been the coldest winter in Milwaukee in thirty years, as temperatures have plummeted to below-zero levels on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, we’re tough folk and can tolerate pretty much anything the elements throw at us. After all, we’ve got half-dressed football fans who are famous for spending hours in the frigid Wisconsin weather to cheer on the Packers to victory at Lambeau Field. We’ve got guys and girls who, every January 1, take the Polar Plunge en masse in Lake Michigan’s icy waters, just for the sake of freezing, and proving that they’re totally fearless of Old-Man Winter. We’ve got little kids donning snow pants, mittens and moon boots who walk to school. And of course, there are our deer hunters, who make an annual pilgrimage to the silent, vast forests of Wisconsin, and endure hours in the cold. And hey, even if they don’t bring home that prize-winning buck, they never regret going. Basically, you get the idea. We can take it.

With that in mind, I’ve got a little anecdote to share with you all. Just a while back, during our first arctic assault, I headed out into the elements one Sunday evening to attend Mass at Saints Peter and Paul. As I approached the church, I noticed a small sign affixed to the door that read, “Due to the cold weather, Mass has been cancelled.” What? Are you kidding me? Just across the street, shirtless, jubilant UWM college students were celebrating the Packer game in the streets . They sure handled the cold pretty well.  And at Saints Peter and Paul, Mass was cancelled, due to…the cold. As I was reading the sign, six people simultaneously approached the door, all were as incredulous as I at the sign’s message.

We Catholics come from a long line of rugged souls who, in order to attend Mass, endured far worse than cold weather. I’m thinking of persecutions and the like. What would these people (wearing whatever insulation their paltry income could afford) think if they knew that Mass inside a heated, comfortable church was cancelled due to the cold? I would be embarrassed, how about you? Barring any extraordinary conditions (and no, cold weather doesn’t count) there is no excuse for such a cancellation. The problem is, some of us have become soft. What was once considered a sacred duty is seen by some as an expendable “service” that can be abrogated on the fly.