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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

My dear spiritual family,

A full year has passed since we returned to public Masses. June 8th, 2020 public Mass returned to OLPH and to most of the parishes in the Trenton Diocese. In a rare use of ecclesial law, the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey gave a special dispensation. Now almost a year to the day later, they are removing that dispensation. This unique occasion offers a rich backdrop for understanding better the nature of sin and our motivation.

Henceforth, missing Mass on Sunday without serious reason (grave illness, homebound, unavoidable work as essential medical, police and fire personnel) is a grave matter. All grave matter should be confessed and absolution sought in the Sacrament of Confession before returning to the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. Furthermore, should one commit a grave sin, with full knowledge and full consent of the will, then the conditions are met for mortal sin, meaning one has cut oneself off spiritually from God. See here in our Catechism for further explanation.

As a priest, I prefer to speak of grace much more than sin. Sin is boring; grace is exciting. Sins can be limited to about seven ways that our concupiscence and disordered inclinations and habits, along with temptations by demons, cause us to fall from grace. Sins are the commonplace ways we who are called to a life of grace, fail to heed that calling by choosing the lesser goods or even evils. Sin holds us down so we cannot pursue true human flourishing. Sin is a ruse, a lie, a deception, but it has real consequences since it causes a loss of charity in our souls and the privation of sanctifying grace. Yes, when we sin mortally we cut ourselves off from God and his love is extinguished in our hearts. Sins are forgiven and the spark of charity reignited through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The deeper question, however, is why we do the things that we do? For weekly Mass, what motivates us to come or not to come? Now that the regular law is in place, we can be motivated to attend Mass out of a fear of hell, but a much richer life awaits those driven by love of God to accomplish all that He places before us each day. Love of God is the highest and best motivation. What moves you to join in the sacrifice of praise at holy Mass? Or, what keeps you from entering into the great Mystery of our Faith?

Some people will say to me, “But Father I don’t get much out of Mass.” The heart of Mass is not what we get out but what we put in. The word liturgy comes from a Greek word that means work, not like a little chore but like a big road project. At liturgy, we are carrying out a large continual work for the Lord. We are offering the great sacrifice of praise to God. Liturgy is first our great gift before it is anything we receive from it. God commands us to worship Him. The minimum requirement is once a week on Sunday.

Hence, we strive our best to prepare for Mass. We arrive early and pray in silence. We read the readings ahead of time. We wear our Sunday best. We strive to enter into the liturgy to join our hearts and voices with the prayers. We remain after praying for the grace to live a truly abundant life this week. Yes, even the sacrifice of time we make is our great offering to the Lord.

Yes, we can pray anywhere! In fact, we are called to pray everywhere! But only during divine liturgy are we encouraged to unite our poor offerings to the one perfect offering of Christ Jesus on the Cross. Liturgy is Head and Members praying as one, the Church united with Christ the Bridegroom.

Please join us at Mass this weekend and every weekend! Put your heart into it and join your heart to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who offers Himself to our Father.

Yours in the Lord!
Fr. Wilson