Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I continue to be grateful for your warm welcome to St. Mary. It has been wonderful to get to know many of you at small gatherings and after Masses.
In a particular way, I remain grateful to God for the place the sacred liturgy holds at this parish and the desire I have encountered in so many of you to worship God as a parish family through the Mass: we know that God has not abandoned us; He is really here with us! In the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist, we are truly present at the offering of Jesus Christ on the cross, and through the ministry of the priest, we can offer ourselves to our Heavenly Father through Jesus, truly present on our altar. Then in a gift of overflowing love, God offers us back what we have offered Him: Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in Holy Communion.
When we are prepared to receive the Lord, there could be no greater gift. In fact, St. John Vianney once said, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” Indeed, we receive God Himself into our church and into our very selves. What could be more precious?
How tremendously difficult then, in this pandemic, to not know exactly what is prudent in regard to when and how we should return to the regular participation at Holy Mass. Our bishop’s dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation remains in place through Nov. 28, 2020. Many of us should continue to consider if our condition and risk level makes this dispensation necessary to utilize. We will continue to live stream the 9am Mass and to recommend making a special prayer time and an act of Spiritual Communion each Sunday.
However, being dispensed from the obligation doesn’t mean that we are no longer in need of the grace and nourishment that we receive in attending Holy Mass. I have heard from many of you about the great yearning and discomfort caused by being away from this source of our Catholic life, especially to those with serious health conditions and to those with young children. There is not a perfect or one-size-fits-all answer here: we must ask for the virtues of prudence and fortitude to discern what is right for each of us and to have the power to do it.
We are doing our best, following State and Diocesan guidelines, to make our Masses as safe as possible, including wearing facial coverings and maintaining social distance between household groups. With all this in mind I’d like to encourage all of us to prayerfully consider the following:
- For those regularly attending Mass, please remain committed to the safety guidelines in place, including properly wearing a facial covering and respecting at least six feet of distance between household groups. I implore you to see these actions as an act of charity that may allow others to feel comfortable and able to return to the great gift of the Mass.
- I encourage those who have been away from Mass for a while, and still have some concerns about how safe Mass is, to consider coming back, even just once to stand in the back of church for the first few minutes of a Mass. If you feel comfortable, stay and worship, but if not, feel free to go: there’s nothing wrong with that.
- If the necessity of the restrictions and safeguards now in place has kept you away out of dislike or discomfort, but not necessarily out of concern for safety, I encourage you to reconsider if enduring these things might be worthwhile for your spiritual benefit of returning to the regular worship of God in the Holy Mass.
- I’d also like to remind all of us that the reception of Holy Communion is not a necessity when attending Mass. In fact, there are times, such as when we know ourselves to be in mortal sin or when we are not prayerfully recollected or prepared at Mass, when we should not receive the Eucharist. Added to this list could be the prudent discernment of the risks involved in this pandemic. Being prayerfully present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even without receiving Communion, is an incomparable gift from God, and if not receiving is the unfortunate trade-off for participation in Mass, it is still worth it.
I’d like to briefly announce a couple of scheduling additions that we will be making to help facilitate a greater ability and capacity to attend Mass on Sundays:
- Outdoor Masses have been very successful in their first two attempts this summer. We plan to have a few more, as long as the weather cooperates. The following are now scheduled:
- Outdoor Mass Sunday, Sept. 20 at 11am
- Outdoor Mass Sunday, Sept. 27 at 11am (possibly in McCormick Park)
- This Mass will be followed by the first Family Faith Formation Community Gathering: a picnic in the park, open to all parishioners and not just to the families in FFF. More info to come.
- In the event of poor weather, the Mass will be in the church, and we will announce the change our website here by 9am that day.
- We will announce by late September how long we will attempt to have the 11am Masses outdoors, depending on what our fall weather looks like then.
- When outdoor Masses are no longer possible in a consistent way, most likely in October, we are planning on the addition of a temporary 7:30am Sunday Mass without music. This Mass would not have any singing by the priest or cantor, and would obviously be the first event in the church building each Sunday. The Mass would be temporary, meaning that it exists in response to the needs of the pandemic, but it would be consistent each Sunday, as long as it appears to be the right way to address those ongoing needs.
Our prayer after Communion for this 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time is a good meditation for us about the transformative nature of the Holy Eucharist:
May the working of this heavenly gift, O Lord, we pray,
take possession of our minds and bodies,
so that its effects, and not our own desires,
may always prevail in us,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us continue to pray for the end to this pandemic, as well as for each other that we might know God’s will and have the strength to follow it faithfully.
Rev. David Fons
We’ve moved Eucharistic Adoration into the main church so that there’s room for more people to come. Please keep social distance and wear your mask. Come visit Our Lord.
Sundays: 6pm – 9pm
Mondays: 6pm – 9pm
Wednesdays: 8:30am – 12noon, 6pm – 9pm
Thursdays: 6pm – 9pm
Fridays: 8:30am – 9pm