Ice Mass: Celebrating the Eucharist Outside on Campus
Mass in the snow has been a winter tradition for St. Albert the Great Catholic University Parish in Houghton at Michigan Technological University.
Outdoor Masses with young people in attendance are a common sight at World Youth Days.
But in the Wolverine State, Catholic young people take the concept to a whole other level by celebrating Mass in a chapel made of snow.
Each winter, Michigan Catholic students build, with the aid of local community members, an ice chapel during Michigan Technological University’s Winter Carnival.
The first ice chapel was built in January 2016 — and Mass in the snow has been a winter tradition on campus ever since for St. Albert the Great Catholic University Parish in Houghton within the Diocese of Marquette.
This week, college students and locals came in droves for the annual Ice Masses.
The ice altar is constructed using slabs of ice, weighing hundreds of pounds, from Lake Superior.
Students shovel and pack snow to build the chapel, bolstered by wood, by hand.
Complete with colorful “stained glass,” it’s a unique setting to celebrate the Eucharist. The chapel is, appropriately, named Our Lady of the Snows.
The scholar-builders create the bright “windows” with dye and hand-painting — including a Divine Mercy image this year.
There’s also a carved-out confessional and side altars, as well as a pulpit tower and Marian grotto.
The faithful attended the 5:30 and 10pm (candlelight) Masses on Friday. Saturday morning Mass was celebrated in the ice chapel, too — and today, Monday, there’s an evening Mass scheduled.
Concelebrating priests donned hats and gloves during the 5:30pm Friday Mass that started the series of outdoor Masses.
“A warm welcome” was met with laughs as pastor Father Ben Hasse commented that this was “one of the warmer” Ice Masses.
His homily began by focusing on “lack of communion with God,” building off of the daily reading from Genesis: 3:1- 8.
“Hiding from God is a rather silly proposition … but it speaks to what happens in our hearts when our communion, our friendship with the Lord is broken.”
“It is not good to hide from God,” he emphasized, going on to highlight what Jesus’ healing of the man who was hearing impaired and had a speech impediment in the Gospel of day (Mark 7: 31-37) means in full: “It restores this man to communion.”
“He’s drawn back into relationship,” the priest said, adding, “The Lord wants to restore us.”
Speaking of the chapel, the pastor continued: “Our desire is that it be a moment when we’re drawn back to the Lord” and its presence for Mass is an “occasion of communion with God and others.”
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