Much of the nation is in the grips of a tremendously bitter cold spell, some with snow and ice, others with frigid Arctic cold and wind chill factors well below 0 degrees. I don't want to speak too soon, but we in our area of South Western Pennsylvania have been spared the worst (so far). But it is still "cold as hell!" That is a strange phrase, since hell is often depicted as fire and purification, but actually hell would be also be cold - in the sense of devoid of love and companionship and support and human and divine warmth. Anyway, so cold that we cancelled our Mass for the morning tomorrow because of wind chill factors predicted at being -20 to - 40 degrees. We don't cancel often.
Our weekday Masses in this week between the Feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord have their own prayers. This morning I prayed the wrong Collect Prayer (the one before the Solemnity rather than the one for after the Feast). I realized the fact too late to change, but in fact I like the prayer before better.
That prayer asks the Lord to grant his people "unshakable strength in faith" that we may be "freed from present trials and given a place in abiding gladness." In a world that constantly seeks to belittle or undermine faith in God and the exercise of that faith, we truly need renewed strength and determination to remain on course. And in a world filled with trials of every magnitude we need freedom and peace, comfort and "abiding gladness". In that way we may stand as witnesses of Gospel Truth and heralds of moral standards, and may be a beacon of hope to a fallen world.
I have heard of the death of my former Seminary Rector, scripture professor and a priest of the Sacred Heart Province of the Third Order Regular Franciscans in Loretto, Pa - Father Roland Faley, T.O.R. When I receive his obit, I will share the info. May he rest in peace.