It is strange to write this bulletin column knowing that almost no one will read it in print. We’re about a week-and-a-half into our parish closure, and I think most of us would say that this is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. For many of our parishioners who work in health care, they are working overtime at a breakneck pace. For others, they are largely confined to their homes. Either way, I doubt there are any of us who haven’t been seriously affected; every one of us certainly has an extra cross to carry this Lent.
And yet, even with all of the distress that the Cross carries, I’ve been in a privileged position to see this ordeal bring out a lot of good in us. So many people have let me know how painful it is to be deprived of the Mass, and as painful as that is, it’s also been inspiring to see the deep love that so many of you have for the Mass and the Eucharist. It’s a powerful reminder to me that when I’m praying my Mass in private each day, that I’m praying it with and for each of you who can’t join me in person.
I’ve also witnessed an awful lot of good in different exchanges I’ve had with parishioners who have dealt with this crisis in some powerful ways. We have parishioners who have set routines of daily prayer with their spouse or family, far beyond what they’d ever done before. We have parishioners who are reaching out to others who might be alone or anxious. We have parishioners who’ve searched for creative ways to help other people, even with the restrictions we have on our movement. We have parishioners who are spending time with their families in a less-rushed, more intentional way than they’re usually able to do with our hectic modern schedule. But most of all, we have so many parishioners who are so grateful to be a part of this parish community, and who are keeping the bond among us strong, even though we can’t be together.
I know that a situation like this – however long it may last – can be a near occasion of sin for us. But it can also be a crash course in virtue. We have the opportunity to cram years’ worth of patience, hope, forgiveness, and trust in providence into a matter of weeks! And I hope this gives us all a deeper understanding of what a “parish” is. It’s not just a building where we worship, as important as that building is. Rather, a parish is a community of faith, a special part of the Mystical Body that is joined together, with Christ the King as our Head. And because Christ is the One who joins us together, that bond will remain just as strong every single day, no matter how long it is until we are reunited in this building. I miss each of you and can’t wait until I see you again, here at our beloved parish.