Dear Brothers and Sisters,
With the difficulties going on in the world with this virus, it is clear that we all have to adjust our lives (closed restaurants, closed schools, working from home, no attending Mass, etc.). New changes are being announced hourly. I have received many calls from people rightly concerned about what is happening, but many are either angry, afraid, or both. Such misery could be a contagion that we spread unwittingly when we negatively react because of alterations and inconveniences in our lives.
I think Tom Brokaw’s moniker given to my parents’ peer group is very accurate; He calls them The Greatest Generation. He wrote about the incredible sacrifices they made for so many during WWII. It may be helpful for us to ask: “What book will our children write about us as we address this virus?” We were created by God to be social, to be open to love, and ultimately be in communion and happiness with each other. That’s partly what makes this time of social distancing and quarantine so challenging. Our baptism into Christ is not a vaccine shot against pain, but our beautiful faith tells us what to do with our pain, our inconvenience, and our reduced options. It’s how we respond that can change things for the better. How we respond helps people hear the Good News.
This is certainly not a Lent of our choosing, but it is the Lent that is given to us. Lent reminds us how to transform pain. In the old Morning Offering we used to say to Jesus: “I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day”. We can still say that! For Christians our present situation is an opportunity for transforming these sufferings. This Lenten practice reminds us of our connection to all those who are suffering in any way. In Christ Jesus, we know that we are connected by genuine bonds that social distancing cannot break. We are still in communion, even when we cannot receive Christ in Holy Communion.
So please, watch the livestream of the Archbishop’s Mass from here at the Cathedral. He is very pastoral and offers us hope. Read the readings of the day (usccb.org) alone or with your family. Reflect and pray, trying to listen to Christ in a different way. Do something charitable: drop off food for an elderly person (while maintaining social distancing), call to check on someone who may be feeling isolated, write love letters, read a holy book, memorize a Bible verse, have a joke contest, make silly videos, or just REST in the arms of Jesus, confident that He loves you. We can be creative in Unleashing the Gospel.
Let’s keep each other in prayer. Remember, there are no bystanders, so please be pastoral with yourself and with other folks. Don’t forget that the Lord is in charge. Simply think rationally and not emotionally. Please take care of yourself and follow all guidelines. So, let us practice caution around groups, wash our hands, but then… put our hands into the Hands of Christ. We are Christians who are witnesses to the fact that no hardship can stop us from experiencing the love of Christ. We live confidently in that love, knowing that the Lord has transformed us into the Body of Christ.
Fr. J.J. Mech
P.S. Please remember that the Archbishop has asked us to pray the Memorare prayer:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.