My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are entering the holiest days of the year. While concern for each other due to the coronavirus is keeping us apart and from celebrating the liturgies together, it cannot keep us from praying and keeping these days holy. I ask that every family observe these holy days with a reverence and seriousness as you perhaps have not done before. Not being able to come together is indeed a great sadness and wound to our hearts. There are some who fear that many will lose their faith during this time or their faith may be weakened by the absence of the sacraments and their participation at the liturgy. While this concern cannot be dismissed out of hand, we must also live in hope and in faith.
The suspension of public masses here at St. John Vianney and indeed throughout the world is a test of faith. However, our inability to celebrate the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum together can also serve as an opportunity for all of us:
- to strengthen our faith
- to increase our desire for God
- to deepen our understanding of what we celebrate
- to cherish even more the sacraments that we receive
- to grow in our appreciation of the gift of being part of God’s Church
As we observe these holy days, I beg you to stop and pray. Come together as a family and spiritually unite yourself with all of our parishioners and with the Church throughout the world as we commemorate the events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.
Take time on Thursday night to recall the institution of the Eucharist. Think of what the Eucharist means to you. Thank Jesus for this gift of himself. Ask Jesus again to forgive you for all the times that you missed Mass out of laziness, by putting other things before him or for no reason whatsoever. Ask forgiveness for all of the times that you received Communion unworthily. Express your sorrow to our Lord for all the times you took the great gift of Our Lord in the Eucharist for granted. Read again the discourse of the Last Supper in John’s Gospel and of course, John Chapter 6!!! In your charity, please pray for me, Frs. Chuck and Richard and for all priests on this night of the institution of the priesthood. Make a Spiritual Communion and if you can, spend one hour in silent prayer as with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
On Good Friday, I ask that we spend this day in somber reflection. Unplug devices – TV’s, radios, phones and computers. Observe in your own home from 12:00 noon until 3:00 a Grand Silence if you can, ceasing all ordinary activity in commemoration of the three hours Jesus spent dying on the Cross. Together read in your bibles the Passion of Jesus. Take some time, reflect and meditate on the crucifixion of Jesus. Think of his pain and suffering but even more his immense love for us. Unite your sufferings and your love to Jesus on the cross. Pray the Stations of the Cross. On this day, we remember to pray for Pope Francis, the bishops and all the faithful, our Jewish brothers and sisters as they celebrate Passover, our government leaders, the sick and the suffering. We also pray for all those who do not know God and for all who are troubled.
Let Holy Saturday be a time of preparation for Easter, not just for the Easter brunch or the egg hunt, but also spiritually. Keep a vigil in your home. Spend some time uniting yourself with Jesus. Read some of the readings of the Solemn Vigil. Pray especially for all those who because of this pandemic cannot be received into the church through Baptism and Profession of Faith this night. Pray for those whose faith has grown cold not just during this crisis but even long before. Pray for all of us that this may not be just a time of deliverance from COVID-19, but a time of renewal in our faith and love of God.
On Easter Sunday, rejoice! We are still an Easter people and Alleluia remains our song!
Jesus is truly risen and we cannot forget to lift up our hearts in prayer and in praise. Let your joy and praise be known. Post on your Facebook, send a tweet or put a sign outside your door or on your lawn. Jesus lives! Alleluia! He is Risen from the dead! Praise God! But most of all pray in thanksgiving for so wonderful a savior. Pray the Liturgy of the Word and make a Spiritual Communion. This Easter, please remember to pray for all of those in the world who are suffering. Pray for our country and city. Pray that God will continue to help us meet the challenges that we face during this time. Pray for the protection of, and in thanksgiving for, all of those who are serving us during this pandemic; our healthcare professionals and those performing essential services. Pray for those who are out of work or who are facing financial problems. In your great charity, pray for your fellow parishioners that all of us may be strengthened and renewed in our faith in the Risen Lord this Easter like no other.
In Pace Christi,