“Unprecedented!”… “Unbelievable!”… “Unimaginable!” These are a few of the exclamations I am sure we all have been hearing, from our own lips or those of the people around us. I acknowledge that I have not yet fully absorbed the reality that we will not be praying in one another’s company, the Sunday Masses of the remaining weeks of Lent or Palm Sunday or the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter Sunday. As your Pastor, I want you to know that I am not immune to the temptation to let fear arrest my mind. And wouldn’t the Enemy just love to have us in the grip of fear?
However, I believe it is in times of trial that our true Christian character is manifest. By the grace of God—and everything that is good and true and beautiful is always made possible by His grace— this can be for Catholics and Christians throughout the world, a Lent like no other or, to borrow the title of Matthew Kelly’s daily online devotional, the best Lent ever. By the way, I have been reminded that the etymology of the word “quarantine” is from the Italian, quarantine, “forty days!”
In the beginning of the gospel for this Fourth Sunday of Lent, cycle A, the disciples approach Jesus with this question: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answers: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is to that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day” (John: 9:2-4).
To apply this: if I were to go around suggesting that anyone who contracts COVID-19 becomes sick because of their sins, you would legitimately challenge me—again, if there was that kind of correspondence, we’d all have the virus. Yet, I firmly believe that God desires to use this as an opportunity to draw our attention back to Him. More than once in these last couple of weeks, the statement found on the homepage of Fr. John Riccardo’s Acts XXIX website has come to mind: GOD WANTS HIS WORLD BACK.
As a parish community—of course, dwelling within a larger community— we are being offered a marvelous opportunity to do the works of the Lord. To quote Rocco Palmo, a Catholic layman from Philadelphia who hosts the blog Whispers in the Loggia: “While beating corona depends on our ‘distancing,’ these days can heal some other big viruses — in society, this Church, our families and communities…may we know the grace to begin.”
As parish leaders, the Saint Mary staff will continue to labor to serve the spiritual and material needs of parishioners. For example: a video of Sunday Mass from our church will be available each weekend of the duration of time when church is publicly closed. Daily Mass is available via EWTN radio and television (which received a shout-out on MSNBC) and from Bishop Barron (https://www.wordonfire.org/daily-mass/). Saint Vincent de Paul ministry will continue to function, if more by phone contact than in-person for the time being. “Phone visits” will take place with our parishioners who are unable, even in normal times, to come to church.
While I recognize that this situation is having an impact on the economics of our households, please do what you can to help us keep up with the cost of maintaining our staff and ministries. Please make your weekly offering, even if it needs to be modified for the time being. If you use paper envelopes, you may use the good old USPS—St. Mary Catholic Church, PO Box 109, Wooster, Ohio, 44691. For those who are already enrolled in myEoffering: this is a great help. Enrollment can take place through our website: www.stmarywooster.org.
For quick access to the entire bulletin for this weekend ONLINE, please click on the link below: