Friday, March 20, 2020

Some Words of Encouragement

Photo taken at the last public Mass at St Mary’s, the FSSP church in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania; courtesy of Allison Girone. 
Here are a few items which I would like to share with our readers who are now unable to attend Mass, and those who cannot even go to a church to pray. The first was published on Corpus Christi Watershed a couple of days ago by Fr David Friel, a young priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and is reproduced here by his kind permission, with our thanks.

“While still a seminarian, I had the wonderful opportunity to undergo training for Navy chaplaincy. This training was some of the best formation I have ever received. There was a portion of this training, however, when it was not possible for me to participate in the liturgical life of the Church. I could not attend daily or even weekly Mass during this time, nor did I have the freedom to pray the Divine Office as I was accustomed to doing at various times throughout the day. It was a real suffering.

Several very good things came to pass through this objectively not-good situation. I would like to highlight just three of my takeaways:

1. God was immensely good to me during this time, showering me with unexpected and unprecedented graces. I have never forgotten His goodness to me during those days, and I try to remind myself of this whenever I am feeling ungrateful.

2. The separation I experienced actually deepened my hunger for the Eucharist, my thirst for the Word of God, and my love for the Lord.

3. The experience confirmed for me that my regular commitments to Mass and the Divine Office were not merely matters of routine. Being unable to fulfill these regular commitments would not have been a source of suffering, were they not first a source of genuine spiritual nourishment. This confirmation was a great source of consolation to me.

The situation in which we find ourselves today and in the coming weeks is, likewise, less than ideal. There are a few things we might do, however, to ensure that this objectively not-good experience is at least spiritually profitable. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Unite yourselves with so many other Catholics who are regularly separated from the liturgical life of the Church (e.g., the homebound, members of the military, Catholics in places like China and Syria, etc.).

2. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours with your families on Sundays, especially Lauds and Vespers. These prayers (which are part of the official, public prayer of the Church) can be accessed with free apps like Laudate and iBreviary.

3. Do something concrete to serve your neighbor. “Worship that is pure and undefiled before our God and Father consists in this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1, 27).

4. Let’s pray for one another. Oremus pro invicem.

The Lord was immensely good to me throughout my period of separation from the Church’s liturgical life during Navy training. He will be just as good to each of you during this time of coronavirus-prompted lockdown. ‘For the LORD is good! His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.’ (Ps. 100 (99), 5).”

Folio 165 of the Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 9474.
The second comes from a pastoral letter which His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, recent sent out, which included this payer to say to one’s Guardian Angel when one cannot go to Mass.

“Dear Guardian Angel, go for me to the church, there kneel down at Mass for me. At the Offertory, take me to God, and offer him my service; what I am, what I have, offer as my gift. At the Consecration, with your seraphic strength, adore my Savior truly present, praying for those who have loved me, and for those who have offended me, and for those now deceased, that the Blood of Jesus may purify them all. During Holy Communion, bring to me the Body and Blood of Jesus, uniting Him with me in spirit, so that my heart may become His dwelling place. Plead with Him that through this sacrifice, all people throughout the world be saved. When the Mass ends, bring home to me and to every home the Lord's blessing. Amen.”

Finally, I would enourage members of the clergy especially to read this post from the Facebook page of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which describes what His Excellency Archbishop Jerome Listecki did on the first day of the suspension of public Masses. Within the limits dictated by prudence, and the necessary cautionary measures to prevent further spread of the disease, this would be an excellent practice to take up.

“ the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Archbishop Listecki consecrated the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to St. Joseph and then traveled to 11 locations across the archdiocese to pray for healing from CoVID-19 and protection from evil. This blessing occurred on the first day of suspension of public Masses in the archdiocese.

In these challenging times, when the Church cannot gather for worship, Archbishop Listecki wishes to make it clear to the Church and to the world that prayer remains effective and God’s power is unsurpassable, despite prudent efforts to slow the spread of CoVID-19. As the local shepherd of the flock, Archbishop Listecki went out to the entire Archdiocese of Milwaukee to formally lift up the Church in prayer. Through his witness to prayer and God’s care for His people, Archbishop Listecki invites everyone to deepen their confidence in Divine protection and blessing.

Upon leaving the Cathedral, the Archbishop traveled with the Blessed Sacrament and two priests in procession to one parish in each of the 11 deaneries of the archdiocese. At each parish, he blessed the entire deanery and its people to communicate the reality that Jesus Christ abides in our midst in the Eucharist and is true to His promise: ‘Behold, I will be with you until the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). ...

On the eve of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and during this difficult time for our world, let us remain steadfast in prayer, and confident in Christ’s power to deliver us from all evil.” 

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