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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

Our Saint this week is Padre Pio, a beautiful example of the priesthood as we honor Christ the King of the Universe. Padre Pio is a saint for our times. He endured so much and never lost hope. We may have asked ourselves if God is punishing us with the pandemic. This crisis seems not so much a direct castigation, as an opportunity for reform and renewal. We are surely being shaken up, or resisting that turmoil. But resistance to the restrictive social guidelines only serves to prolong their duration.

Regarding trials, Padre Pio was an expert. He once said, “Thank and sweetly kiss the hand of God that strikes you, because it is always the hand of a Father who strikes you because he loves you.” These words from a man who bore the wounds of Christ in his body for 50 years! He was deeply united to Christ, making his advice uniquely powerful. Pio invites us to receive this world-wide contagion as from the hand of God who is Love.

Padre Pio’s life was deeply sacramental. Continually pouring out his blood through the wounds, he strove to unite himself deeply to each daily Mass, rising in the middle of the night to prepare to offer the early sacrifice. Then he would spend several hours in the confessional. This routine was in effect except when illness or the scrutiny of Roman authorities (who were investigating his stigmata) prevented it. He lived united with Christ on the cross in the posture of continual self-offering.

The Son of God was crucified for love of us, so it makes sense that as adopted children of God something cruciform belongs at the heart of every Christian life. This capacity for self-offering forms an archetypal pattern impressed on the heart of each Christian, whether or not she receives the gift of the stigmata. But those wounds may be the surest sign of union with Christ priest and victim. Invoking the need to unite ourselves to Christ in trial, the good friar said, “When you are exposed to any trial, be it physical or moral, bodily or spiritual, the best remedy is the thought of him who is our life, and not think of the one without joining to it the thought of the other.” In other words, join our sufferings to Christ the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep. Live a cruciform existence. I fear our flock may be losing this central axis of Christian existence as they become so infrequently united with Christ crucified and risen in the holy Eucharist.

It was so hard for me to close the church this Spring, and especially to have Easter in an empty building. Padre Pio captures the underappreciated truth: “It would be easier for the world to exist without the sun than without the Holy Mass.” During these days, a concern has grown that not enough of us see the Mass as essential, as the source of supernatural radiance that warms and illuminates our spirits. I know of many healthy low-risk folks who have not returned to eucharistic worship, and that troubles me. Often when a good is absent from our lives for a time, we supplant it with other competing goods. Or worse still, we adopt new habits that are not good for us.

To this end, there are also some practical matters to share. Our total weekend numbers continue to hover around 300 people / weekend, with each of our four Masses between 60 and 100 people. We can accommodate up to 200 by current regulations so there is plenty of room. We appreciate the need to choose outings and interactions wisely. Hence, the recommendation to come monthly or every other weekend for now. But come. And when conscientiously discerning not to attend in person, set aside Sunday morning for worship and prayer. Read the Scriptures. Share the Gospel. Offer up our own prayers of the faithful, as the domestic church united in family. The whole of Sunday is set aside by God for worship and renewal. Although we are not obliged to attend Sunday Mass, we have always been obligated to keep Sunday holy.

On this the last Sunday of the year, may we renew our sense of the sacred and our willingness to unite ourselves to the sacrifices of Christ our King and Lord. Padre Pio, pray for us!

Fr. Wilson