Mice in the Church

As your pastor I have to let you know that there are mice in the church.  I am just warning you.  I want you to be aware of this so that you are not startled as I was. I don’t want you to step on them or fall over them.  At the end of each Mass, and after everyone has left the church, I go around to make sure that everything is somewhat in order. You would be amazed at what I find in church:  keys, phones, Kleenex, hats, books, watches, cameras, Starbucks,  glasses, dentures, pocketbooks, wallets, and on and on.  And now mice! Recently while going around in the quiet of the church I have spotted mice.  There are a number of them. They sneak up on you when you are not expecting them and then they scurry away.

We have a great cleaning crew here in the parish.  In fact during the week a lady by the name of Lucille came in to light a candle.  She stopped me to let me know that she visits a lot of churches, but our church is the cleanest church she has ever seen.  I was glad to hear that.  But the mice gave me a real startle the other day.  I don’t get to see them very clearly because they move so fast.  When I try to catch them they run away or out the door before I can do anything.  It is a bit frustrating.  I am determined to find out where they have come from.  If you know, please let me know.

Finally, after many efforts I was finally able to catch one of the mice before he could get away.  It took effort on my part but I was able to find out how he got into the church.  It seems he came from across the street.  During the cold months it is common for mice to come into a warm building like the church.  After speaking with the maintenance men I determined that he came from across the street; from the school building.  From the second floor.  From the 5th grade classroom.  His name is Sean Cannon.  His proud mother was helping him.   He and his friends scurry around the church after Mass to clean up.  He is the only one I have been able to catch, but there are more that get away before I can thank them.  They are “church mice.”  They go around unseen and very quietly do the simple task of fixing up the church after everyone has left.  They do what no one else wants to do.  They crawl beneath the seats and pick up things.  They put back the missalettes, prayer  booklets and hymnals.  They put the kneelers up.  They throw away any trash.  And then they leave.   They never say a word.  You never see them.  You never catch them because they are too fast.  They don’t want to get caught.  They just want to do what they do and then get away.

And without a word they inspire me because they do exactly what God asks of each of us: to do the mundane and simple, sometimes unpleasant, but always without seeking praise or thanks.  They go about serving God very humbly by doing what others might not wish to do.  They do it without anyone ever knowing about it. They do it without being asked.  There are a lot of church mice out there. There are a lot of people out there who go about their lives very unassumingly.  You might be one of them.  Every day you do the commonplace and mundane, sometimes unpleasant, but you do it with great love and devotion for God and for your family.  And that changes what might be unpleasant into a great gift for God.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was bathing a dying leper.  Horrified, a man approached her: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.”  She responded “Neither would I.  I do it for God.”

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– Fr. Gerard Gordon