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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

Dear sisters and brothers,

Experts say it takes 40 days to make a habit. We have been in lock down, since - more or less - March 15th. So, we have passed the 40 day mark. Who’s counting?! In the first few days and weeks of our new temporary reality, things were topsy-turvy like those tea-cup rides down the shore that make me mildly seasick. Do not get on one of those rides having recently consumed a bag of popcorn and a snowcone. Interesting memory!

We are also approaching the holy Ascension, 40 days after the Resurrection, Jesus ascends to our Father to take his seat at the right hand in glory. Normally, we keep the Ascension on Thursday. Many dioceses around the country have transferred the Solemnity to the following Sunday. This year, in the light of the pandemic, we are doing the same. So next Sunday, May 24th will be Ascension Thursday. A Sunday becomes a Thursday…. Ha! Only in liturgical time.

As we prepare for the great feast of Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit to renew the Church and the face of the world, now it is really time to take stock of our spiritual lives. We can do what many have been doing with their basements and attics: sorting through and sorting out! So, what -- from our new found life - should stay and what should go?

Recreation by Foot: A whole world of simple beauty lives right around the block. The tulips have just about finished and the irises are on the way. Dogwoods and redbuds are bursting forth. I love taking a walk around the Shade. More people have been out walking or jogging than I have seen in a long time. When I take a bike ride, I see more and more people taking advantage of the natural beauty, for example strolling around Strawbridge Lake. With gyms closed and “nowhere to go” many have taken to going around the block. Take a stroll. Breathe in the pollen! The air has smelled beautiful with fewer cars on the road. When we return to some reality that could be “the new normal” - I give a hearty endorsement for more walking, and more porch sitting. Why not commit to a daily 20 minute walk? Or even better - slow down on Sundays and walk to Church whenever possible. Walk to town and take a reusable bag or two. These are new ways of being that can continue well past Corona.

Renewed Focus on Presence: We can be in the same house with each other without really being present one to another. In regular times, activities fill our radar and our distraction often goes unperceived as we hurry about from one activity to the next. We are doing “things” together. We are tending to the needs and business of family life. Now that many of our activities outside the home are suspended, postponed or virtualized, many more hours are spent at home with our loved ones. (Since I live alone, a canine friend has become a steady urge but I have not taken the leap.) Still, we may reflect and acknowledge that even with our time at home, we may not be spending too much time in family. Our attention may not be consistently focused on each other, but rather some piece of technology or screen. In the weeks and months ahead, how about a weekly “family game night” or a period of dedicated time (Sunday or an evening) of no technology, just being together.

Family Prayer: My heart earnestly yearns for the day we can return to our beautiful church to pray as a parish family. Until then, we must pray as family in the home. Our home and our family becomes more the “domestic church” than perhaps we have acknowledged in the past. One local radio station  is dedicated to the Domestic Church, to building up the family in our neck of the woods. We have all been encouraged to pray in the home, to join virtually in the holy Mass, offer the Rosary in family. These practices are beautiful, and I hope our parish families can continue to consecrate (to make sacred) both time and space in our homes well after the pandemic is in the rearview. Pope John Paul II made it one of his earnest endeavors to remind us that our families are in fact churches in miniature. See a great Knight of Columbus article here. One of the great 20th century Catholic figures in America, Fr. Patrick Peyton, was fond of saying: “A family who prays together, stays together.” Great advice then as now.

In what new ways is the Holy Spirit inviting us to take advantage of these times, to begin again a whole existence forged around Christ at the center of our hearts and families?

God bless you!
Fr. Joel Wilson