Ezra’s Wooden Platform from the Book of Nehemiah and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Snow Altar


Hundreds of Catholic Faithful stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike attend an outdoor Mass with an altar made out of snow. (IMAGE: KENNEDEYMAE)

By now I’m sure many of you have heard about the Pennsylvania Turnpike Mass celebrated in the snow with hundreds of Catholic Faithful who were stranded while on their way home from the March For Life in Washington, D.C.  For more information about the Mass and the details of how it unfolded visit: https://churchpop.com/2016/01/23/photos-of-the-historic-turnpike-mass-of-2016/ or https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/many-busloads-of-pro-life-marchers-stranded-on-pennsylvania-turnpike-since.


While listening to today’s First Reading from the Book of Nehemiah (NEH 8:2-4A, 5-6, 8-10), I was contemplating the Mass on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that took place on Saturday afternoon.

The reason I thought of this correlation between the Mass on the Turnpike and the First Reading at today’s Mass was that the author of Nehemiah makes reference to the wooden platform Ezra the Priest used to proclaim the Law of Moses to the Isrealites, who recently returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, was made specifically for that occasion.  This made me think that the snow altar was made specifically by a few stranded Catholics for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be celebrated for hundreds of other stranded Catholics.  The snow altar was used to proclaim the Word of God and to offer the unbloody Sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary.

“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”—
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:9-11)


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