Dear Friends in Christ,
If you have tried to e-mail me lately, you will have received an automated response informing you that my inbox is full and overflowing. Many of our parishioners have been very generous in sharing their concerns, opinions and advice with me. I am thankful that so many wish to communicate with me, however for every person who advocates one thing, there is another person advocating the exact opposite. Back in March when activities and liturgies were suspended, there were a lot of e-mails, letters and such and then it decreased a little, but it never stopped. In the last couple of weeks however, the number of e-mails, etc. has increased again in a dramatic fashion. While many of those communicating are upset about one thing or another, they are upset in contradicting ways. ‘We should open up faster!’, ‘We are opening too fast!’, “Why are you following the government’s regulations?’, ‘Why are you not following the government’s regulations?’, ‘Why are you keeping us away from church?’ ‘Don’t you know it is dangerous to have the church open?’ To be honest with you, it can be exhausting. Just so you know, not everyone who communicates is upset. I have also received many kind and supportive cards and e-mails for which I am greatly appreciative. There was a parade of more than 300 cars one Sunday afternoon in April. Hundreds of families drove by to express their love and support of the priests and our parish during this trying time. That was wonderful and I believe far more representative of the great, positive spirit of our parishioners!!!!
We have discussed among the staff and the parish leadership that this is a very difficult time. Many people are angry and afraid. As a consequence, emotions and frustrations are running pretty high. First, there was the CVOID-19 pandemic, then the stay at home order, the energy industry crisis, massive job layoffs and now there is the civil unrest that is impacting our country. It is a lot for anyone to take in. When we encounter situations that are outside our control, it is only natural that there is an emotional response (fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, confusion, frustration). Emotions are emotions. We have to acknowledge them and then deal with them appropriately and in a healthy fashion. Doing so will probably not fix the underlying problem but it will help us in coping and dealing with situations that are beyond our control. It will keep us balanced. What do we need to do to cope emotionally? First, pray! Give your concerns and worries to the Lord. Give them to Him and then let go of them. If you have trouble letting go, ask the Lord for help to let go of whatever it is that is bothering you. Ask for patience and greater trust. Practice patience, forgiveness and mercy. Come to Eucharistic Adoration. Pray your rosary. Go to confession. Acknowledge and count your blessings. Thank God for the many good things in your life. Coping also requires taking care of our mind and body. Take a walk. Turn off the TV. Limit time on the computer or electronic devices. Get enough sleep. Watch your diet and alcohol consumption. Listen to the birds. Watch a sunrise or sunset. Get some exercise. Sing! Listen to some beautiful music. Smile. Talk to someone you trust and share your feelings. Be positive. Look for the good. Do something for someone else. Read a good book. Pray some more.
Keeping perspective is also helpful. Presidents, governors, county judges, mayors, bishops and pastors cannot control viruses or instantly solve centuries of racial tension and inequality. It is important to realize that the world is not going to end over any of this. There have always been problems and we will no doubt face many more problems in the future. Getting angry about things we cannot control does not make us or anyone else happier. Becoming self-righteous does not make anyone righteous or right! So what can we do? As people of faith, we are called to believe! We are called to put our faith into practice every day. We are called to a Living Faith. We trust in God and His infinite love for us when things are going well and when times are tough. Our faith is alive within us as individuals, families and as a community of faith. As Catholics, we live according to that faith! To believe is not to live in fear but to live in the freedom of God’s children, filled with faith and hope. We know that God is with us and protects us. Always. As Catholics, we know that Jesus has died for us and has saved us. The cross of Jesus is our only hope! Ave Crux Spes Unica! Our redemption and salvation are not in any political party or in any vaccine. Political parties are good, science and medicine are fantastic, but none, absolutely none, zero, not a one, can ultimately save us! Only in God is our salvation! (Ps 62). Putting our faith in anything other than God (politics, science, money, power or ourselves) will always lead us to disappointment. As followers of Jesus, we know that He is in control of our lives and our destiny. When we forget this, we are left to live our lives in fear, desperation and dread. That is not God’s plan for us. Jesus tells us that His desire for us is that we may share His glory and that His joy may be ours and that our joy may be complete! (Jn 15.11)
Live in the peace and joy of Jesus!
In pace Christi,