As we approach Holy Week, we are in a situation unlike any other before. Sadly, we will celebrate neither the Paschal Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday nor Easter Sunday together. This is something that breaks my heart, and I am sure it is the same for you as well. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are invited by our Lord to daily deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, and perhaps in this time, we are taking up crosses heavier than our typical experience. Going through Holy Week and deprived of the solace of the sacraments and sacred liturgies, Jesus invites us to enter into His Passion more deeply.
Psalm 22 begins with the same words spoken by Christ on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” That, I am certain, is the sentiment many of you feel and think, and yet, read through all of Psalm 22. A prayer beginning in such despair and forsakenness makes a dramatic shift towards the end: “Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the assembly I will praise you…For he has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.” It is a prayer beginning in despair, but it ends in trust and hope. Even in this difficult time, we are not alone; God has not abandoned us, but is with us. Jesus invites us to enter more deeply into the mystery of His Passion and Death so that we may more fully experience the mystery of His Resurrection as well.
Looking at various items for Holy Week, Confession will be available, but it will be conducted out in the parking lot—in a sense, a “drive-thru”—following the norms of social distancing. I will be in my car, and I ask that you remain in yours, following any cones that may be there. Please turn off your car when going to Confession, and if you are in line, please give ample space between you and the car in front of you. The following are times for Confession:
- Saturday, April 4: Noon-2pm at St. Mary of the Snows
- Sunday, April 5: Noon-2pm at Resurrection
- Tuesday, April 7: 5-6pm at St. Mary of the Snows
- Wednesday, April 8: 5-6pm at Resurrection
Because we cannot gather together for the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, and because of the time sensitivity of these liturgies coupled with technological issues, I will still celebrate the liturgies for those days, but they will not be recorded. Therefore, I ask that you join Bishop Thomas in praying these sacred and solemn liturgies, who will be streaming them live. This is a way to be more connected with our bishop and with other people of our diocese. The Bishop’s schedule for the Triduum is the following:
- Holy Thursday – 7:30pm
- Good Friday – 3pm
- Easter Vigil – 8:30pm
You can access these liturgies on either the Diocese of Toledo Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/diocesetoledo) or Bishop Thomas’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Bishop-Daniel-E-Thomas-846185655421697/). Even if you are not on Facebook, you can still access these pages and these live-streamed videos. For Easter Sunday, I am working on ensuring that Mass celebrated by me will be available Easter Sunday morning just as we have done for the last few Sundays.
In consultation with the staffs of both parishes, I have decided to continue to keep the churches closed out of concern for the health of parishioners. This decision above all has weighed heavily upon me, and it grieves me to do this. Simply stated, I do not like doing this, but I also find it to be necessary. I understand that many of you wish to be close to the Blessed Sacrament during this time; I know you seek the solace of Christ and feel deprived. It is gut wrenching for me to do this, but I also do it out of concern for the weakest and most vulnerable. In this challenging time, allow this physical separation from the Eucharist to deepen your devotion and desire for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and continue to make Spiritual Communions, inviting Christ more fully into your hearts and souls. Please also pray for and unite yourself with persecuted Christians and with Catholics in areas in which access to Mass and the Eucharist is regularly limited or outright prohibited.
This is the time of the domestic Church, the Church at its most basic level: the family. It is at this level that faith is nurtured and promoted. Perhaps there are a few things you can do to keep the Light of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit alive in your lives and homes:
- Create a “sacred space” in your home: an area set aside and devoted for prayer, reading Scripture; place on a table a crucifix along with statues and images of our Lord, our Lady, and the saints
- Determine a time in the day to pray together as
a family regularly: it can be the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet; it can be
reading, reflecting, and discussing the readings for Mass that day; it can
simply be sharing petitions, sharing blessings to give thanks to God, and
- Magnificat is now offering their resources, including the daily readings and reflections, for free: www.magnificat.com/free
- Take advantage of the Catholic resources at formed.org: (http://www.stmaryresurrection.formed.org/)
Lastly, I want to take many of you for your generosity during this time by giving online or sending in your envelopes, and for those are able, I ask you continue to do so. For those who are in need of some sort, please do not hesitate to contact us. There are people who may be able to help, and as a parish, we will try to find a way to help if we are able.
I’ve been listening to a podcast involving Fr. John Riccardo, and at the end of every podcast he says this: “Do not be afraid. God is with you. You were born for this.” How true these words are! God made us for this moment, to be great and heroic even now, and because of that, we have nothing to fear for God is with us always. I’m reminded of Pope St. John Paul II echoing often the words of Christ: “Be not afraid,” along with “Cast out into the deep.” I continue to pray intensely for all of you, and I remember you daily at Mass. We are about to enter into the week where we celebrate Christ entering into battle with sin and death, our greatest enemies, in His Passion and Death, and we will soon celebrate His victory over our enemies with His Resurrection, so I leave you with the words of Fr. Riccardo: Do not be afraid. God is with you. You were born for this.
Sincerely yours in Christ,