Death of a Church Mouse...

It is the custom for some at St. Elias to bring the Prosphora (the bread to be used in the Divine Liturgy) on Saturday evening and place it on a table in the sanctuary in anticipation of Sunday morning. In the past two weeks this has been the case and each Sunday morning as I came early to church to prepare the bread I have discovered the presence of our church mouse.

Apparently in the evening after Vespers is done and the church is quiet he (or she, who knows?) emerges from his home in our temple, climbs up the table and partakes in a single loaf of bread, eating his fill and then retiring for the night. On Sunday morning I arrive early to discover a small hole in a loaf with the evidence of mouse-like mastication. But this time I was prepared.

For those not from these parts you'll need to know that as the weather cools the local population of mice seek shelter, some finding it in outdoor burrows but many coming to reside in any building they can find. For the most part they're pretty quiet about things, running in the walls and shadows looking for scraps of food and pretty much staying to themselves. They do,however, leave little shall we say, "calling cards" wherever they live and being mice have the ability to settle in, adapt quickly, and respond to it all by having a family, a very large family. So I knew they had to go.

The truth is I'm not crazy about killing anything. Yes I know the chicken at the restaurant didn't commit suicide but I see the taking of any kind of life as something that's necessary but not part of the orginal plan if you get my drift. So when I have to I try to make it quick, painless, and never wanton. For mice that means what I call a "snappy trap".

There are sticky glue traps out there that snare a mouse and then hold him fast while he struggles to death. There are live traps that capture a mouse but then what do you do with it? Unless you have a fair plot of woods around any mouse you release just becomes someone else's problem and not many people consider giving a live mouse a definition of "loving your neighbor as yourself." The old fashion snap trap solves much in one fell swoop. No suffering on the part of the mouse and no wondering what to do with a live one. Just a swift second, a "snap" and then everything is done.

So before liturgy this morning I set the traps in the area where I thought our church mouse might be and since he had already developed a taste for holy bread I took a bit of it from the loaf he had already sampled and placed it in the trap. I didn't have to wait long.

About a half hour after everything was done and the upstairs of our little church went silent our devout mouse scampered out from wherever he was living and lured by the scent of prosphora stepped on to the trap. A quick inspection on my part of the traps just before leaving filled out the details. Now a new question emerges. How many mice are still with us? Being socialable critters the answer is probably more than we know. For even as our little church mouse may be, in his own unsuspecting way, devout he is no hermit.

Only time, it seems, and the two other traps laden with prosphora, will tell.

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