March 20, 2020
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
In this second address I would like to focus on ways all of us can stay active in our faith even while seeming inactive regarding Church participation and gathering due to regulations / recommendations which call us to be at a distance from one another. By this time in the “new normal” we are all feeling somewhat inhibited in that what was so familiar and second nature for us: being around each other. Lifestyle-altering but temporary suspensions enacted across the globe have two purposes that we should keep in mind: to save lives and to minimize the suffering of community spread. As a Church that professes the dignity and sanctity of human life and promotes safe environment for all, especially the vulnerable among us, we have a duty to be a model in society. The Church’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic has been heroic and selfless but real pain of separation is being experienced by all of us! It is almost an oxymoron in that our doors are closed temporarily in order to secure life indefinitely.
That being said, we are challenged to rely on the basics of faith awareness that I alluded to in my first communication on Monday. Our doors may be closed but the work of the Church is still in full operation! Each one of us, by virtue of our Baptism, is called to be a shining example of Christ and His Church in the world. All of us are called to engage creativity in reaching out to our own loved ones, fellow parishioners, neighbors and share our faith in meaningful ways. Our mission as members of the community of the baptized carries on, perhaps now more than ever, all of us need to be Christ’s loving presence to those around us.
As I stated in Monday’s communication, more praying is the first line of business. My humble recommendation: less news time and more prayer time for all of us. It is important to stay well informed but repetition in the media’s coverage of the current pandemic can be overwhelming at times and even cause us to be more anxious. On the other hand, prayer, in all its expressions, has a calming effect and keeps us grounded in God’s love and mercy. Praying together as a family should not be limited to mealtime or bedtime. I would encourage all to pray with the readings of the Mass of the day, prepare daily petitions (as we do in the Universal Prayer of the Mass), be innovative in leading the family with the Lenten devotion of the Stations of the Cross and recite the Rosary (or even a decade a day) together. Many of you have access to televised daily Mass on a variety of channels. As well, our diocesan website live streams Mass from the Cathedral in Wheeling at 12:05p Monday through Friday and 6p on Saturday. I am happy to report some tech savvy parishioners are working on having Mass live streamed from St. Francis de Sales! Hopefully we will have it in operation for next Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
These are times to step up in offering real signs of love for our own and all those around us! We are all challenged in demonstrating our support for others because of social distancing. I realize, too, that patience, respect, forgiveness, and understanding are precious commodities when two or more live under the same roof in these days of self-isolation. Side note: don’t forget to appreciate the recommended six feet apart from one another.