Following is my pastor’s message for this Sunday’s bulletin
This Tuesday is the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. Please pray for your men on the front lines, through his intercession!
Some have been saying that I trivialized the pandemic in my bulletin column last Sunday. It was not my intention to make light of the disease or the suffering it is causing. I have always taken the safety of our people seriously, and have gone to great lengths to make sure our church is distanced and sanitized at all times. In a letter to priests last week, Archbishop Cordileone asked us to “please regularly remind people to follow the safety practices necessary to curb the spread of the virus. This is real, it is dangerous, and it has to be taken seriously.” I am committed to his directive, and am truly sorry that some were scandalized by what they felt was a priest’s insensitivity toward their suffering.
Body and Soul
The pandemic, as some have pointed out, can lead to other serious ills such as suicide, alcoholism, depression, and pornography, especially among less advantaged classes. Our parishes are uniquely able to safely provide for the whole person—body, soul, and spirit—through human community, sacraments, and prayer. This requires an immense amount of work from staff and volunteers, to whom we are all grateful. In his letter last week, the Archbishop urges priests to celebrate three Masses each on Sundays for the people, and to generously provide the sacraments of penance and anointing. He hopes churches will soon be able to reopen, and points out that church services can be operated at least as safely as retail stores. All of us are suffering in many ways in this pandemic. I can say that I’ve been able to keep my peace in the current turmoil by spending at least an hour a day in silence before the Blessed Sacrament, and by reading my Bible every day.
Our struggle, wrote St. Paul in Eph 6:12, is not with flesh and blood but with the “powers of the air.” My dear children: our earthly lives are relatively short. I am sorry, in my imprudence and pride, for speaking glibly about the pandemic. Despite my mistakes, however, I want you to know that there is nothing more important in this life than the next life. “What does it profit a man,” Jesus said, “to gain the whole world but to lose his soul?” It is terribly easy to fixate on this life, forgetting the things of God. The Archbishop concluded his letter with these words: “In addition to adoration, we have to reclaim an authentic and serious spirit of fasting.… I am asking you to join me in observing Friday as a day of fast (unless your health condition cannot allow for it): please abstain from at least one meal on Fridays....” I have not been fasting enough, but last Friday I noticed one of our priests giving up a meal. So I gave up a meal, and it was not as hard as I thought. We can live on a lot less than we think, and once we offer even a little thing to God, it becomes infinite. We do what we can on a human level, but I urge you also to fast and to pray. God is with us, and we must be with Him!