In almost nine years of priesthood, this is certainly the weirdest. We have never been through a situation like this before, and I am sure all of us have many questions running through our heads.
This is certainly a difficult time for people who are missing the sacraments and the social aspect of the faith. But I believe it is worth it and a proper and reasonable response, even if it might be a trial I'd prefer not to undergo. The purpose of these measures from our government and from our bishop are to provide for the weakest and most vulnerable of our society. All who are strong are to help those who are weak, and one of the ways of doing that is ensuring a slow development of this virus in our country, so that hospitals do not have to turn people away who really need care. If you think these restrictions are too burdensome, consider the crucible that Italy is undergoing. It has been exceedingly difficult to reign in this disease once it has surged. Alternatively, in other places where a quick response was put into effect, cases have been minimized and contained rather effectively.
Obedience is something greatly stressed by the saints (not to mention within the Bible itself, when St. Paul and St. Peter calls us to obey the authorities over us - even when they were persecuting the Christians).
The following quotes from St. Francis de Sales show us perfectly the beautiful fruit of obedience.
"Obedience is a virtue of so excellent a nature, that Our Lord was pleased to mark its observance upon the whole course of His life; thus He often says, He did not come to do His Own will, but that of His Heavenly Father.”
”Naturally we all have an inclination to command, and a great aversion to obey; and yet it is certain that it is more for our good to obey than to command; hence perfect souls have always had a great affection for obedience, and have found all their joy and comfort in it.”
”Whoever wishes to live happily and to attain perfection, must live conformably to reason, to rule, and to obedience, and not to his natural likes and dislikes; such an one must esteem all rules, must honor them all, must cherish them all, at least in the superior part of the will; for if one rule be despised now, another will be so tomorrow, and on the third day it will be no better. When once the bonds of duty are broken, everything will be out of order, and exhibit a scene of confusion.”
Be aware that all parish events are cancelled, including the regular Confession times and the Stations of the Cross. However, the church will remain open for personal prayer every day from eight in the morning until ten at night. You will often find me in the back of church, with my "remote office" trying to stay productive, accountable, and available. Also, if you would like to go to Confession, you can call the office to schedule a Confession time individually (or as a family).
The Church encourages frequent, even daily, Holy Communion, but even now when we cannot get to Mass due to precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, we can still unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.
By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. Here is the Act of Spiritual Communion written by St. Alphonsus de Liguori:
(Feel free to print this prayer out and hang it where you will see it daily! Image designed and generously shared by Jessica of Sweet Little Ones Shop)
In the article “Follow the Saints: Make a Spiritual Communion,” (from ncregister.com) Marge Fenelon explained that saints throughout the ages have witnessed to the value of spiritual Communion. “In a vision, Our Lord explained it to St. Catherine of Siena by showing her two chalices: one made of gold, the other of silver,” she wrote. “He told her that her sacramental Communions were preserved in the gold chalice and that her spiritual communions were in the silver chalice…. St. Teresa of Jesus wrote: ‘When you do not receive Communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual Communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.’”
Many of the saints practiced this throughout the day such as Padre Pio and also St. Josemaria Escriva who encouraged everyone to do so frequently for a closer union with God.
I have much more that I would like to say, but it will be done on the parish website, Facebook, and Instagram pages. Please stay in touch with those in the days ahead. And remember to be Christians during this time: we are distancing out of charity for our neighbor, and we also may be called to reach out in charity for our neighbor. The Lord Jesus be with you all and fill your homes and your hearts!