16 March AD 2020
My dear people,
On Ash Wednesday I challenged us as a spiritual home to simplify and unify for Lent. Three weeks into Lent, and a significant part of the world is watching and waiting for COVID-19 to pass us by. I know many of you are seized by anxiety about what this means, and what the future will be like on the other end of this crisis. But St John reminds us, Perfect love casts out all fear. Maybe the Lord has permitted this scourge so we can all simplify and unify. Staying at home and avoiding the world is forcing us all into the interior of our domestic churches. We are all being detached from much in this world that is not Love. At the same though, compassion and kindness haven’t been cancelled, and we can be powerful forces to unify others by perfecting our love and dispelling fear.
I can’t tell you how saddened I am by the closure of our churches from public worship. I know that the Mass is still the perfect form of worship no matter how many are there for you. At least for the foreseeable future, your guardian angels are going to be taking your places in the pews as I ascend Calvary each day to offer the Sacrifice of Redemption. You will be worshiping at the altar of your domestic church, but you will still be united with me at the altar of your parish church. Last Sunday, I preached, “Jesus is not going to bring you to it, if he’s not going to bring you through it.” He is inviting us to a Eucharistic Fast in the midst of a Lenten desert. We haven’t chosen this, but if Providence is guiding us to this extraordinary moment, He knows what it is about. Trust Him!
The Church has been living through a particularly dark period. Confusion over faith and morals, persecution of Christians, the abuse crisis. There is much darkness in our world and our Church. But this is a time for us to be heroic in our abandonment to the task at hand, which is to watch, wait and pray. Let us not lose this opportunity by frittering it away, but seize every moment of this unique Lent to expand our hearts in love and offer this time as a sacrifice in reparation for the sins of the world.
I don’t know whether we will be celebrating Easter together as a parish family or not, that remains yet to be determined. But I do know one thing. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.7). We may not be having public Mass or confessions in the church, but our loving Father God is not bound to those hallowed walls. He is with you and me, and is particularly close now that our hope must be in Him!
If there is a medical emergency and danger of death for you or a loved one, please call the Emergency Line at 866.456.2956. If you, or someone you love, just need to talk and have a word of encouragement, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a phone number to call and I will reach out. Keep up with our social media because I will hopefully be able to stream Mass and other opportunities for prayer, and we can unite simply together in a different way. I can’t wait to join all of you together around the altar again. Until then, let us keep calm and carry on. Pray for those who are sick and for those who care for them, and for those who maintain all those essential services that are so important. We are all links in a chain of glorious humanity, redeemed in Christ. May this retreat into a Eucharistic Fast this very different Lent till the soil of our hearts for the showers of blessing the Risen Son will bestow upon us soon, and very soon!
Love and prayers,
Father Christopher Smith, STD