Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
First, know that you all are in our prayers, daily Mass and everything we are offering up for each other during this Lenten season. Somebody said to me a couple of weeks ago, "Don't worry about looking for Lent; Lent will find you." Prophetic words, perhaps. I have a feeling we are in for an extended Lent season this year. But the resurrection will be amazing.
Hopefully by now you have heard about what we can still offer to help bring hope and consolation. Daily Mass, a recorded Stations of the Cross, a Taizé Prayer Service. It is undeniable that God provides what we need and presents the possibility when the moment is right. While all of this was unfolding last week and I had no idea how to move forward, suddenly God provided a solution. Two of our alumni of Saint Bernadette School, Andy Carluccio and Jonathan Kokotajlo, offered to help. They have turned our chapel into a holy recording studio with several cameras and the expertise to take the footage and edit it, producing a quality video. I never considered all the different nuances of sound and light in video work. We thank them not only for their generosity in giving so that the parish might still have our Mass, but also in their willingness to come to the parish when it is probably advisable to stay home. They are preparing a way for us to continue recording Masses even when they many not be able to be here.
Bishop Burbidge prefers Masses to be recorded and released on the same day, which means that we will be able to provide a daily Mass online beginning at 8:30am on weekdays and Saturdays. We will celebrate Sunday Mass for the parish online on Saturday afternoon and it will be available by 7:30pm. Liturgies for the Sacred Triduum will be live-streamed (see page 6) and NOT recorded, so please tune in when it may be found on our parish Facebook page.
Confessions will continue outside. Also, David Mathers our music director will continue to produce weekly liturgy sheets which we will post online so you have a resource to follow along with at Mass, including readings and music. Since the Government Center shutdown last Friday, we will determine hours be creative and see what we might do.
Remember ECHO. People will be needing food now more than ever and ECHO is our most active feeding service in the parish. Rather than dropping food off at the church as we have done with our Can-A-Week program, please take it directly to ECHO and they will pick it up from you at the curb. Contact ECHO to learn their greatest needs and hours of operation at www.ECHO-inc.org.
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We know good can always come out of the darkest times. Jesus is the light that dispels all darkness. Now more than ever you must stay close to him in spiritual Communion. One of the songs we sing in the Taize prayer service online says, "Dare to forgive and God will be with you. God is forgiveness. Love and do not fear." Fear is the absence of love, and can happen when we have isolated ourselves and find ourselves feeling alone. Be confident that the love of God floods your being, and our love being together multiplies that love and casts out fear. But we must rely on one another, and together pray to God.
I have already been hearing stories of how peoples' lives have changed in just one week—for the better. Some people have said that they realize now that all the hectic things they had put in their lives may not have been so important after all. They can see that family time is more important. We needed to simplify. Even our faith and God had been often pushed out of the calendar because we make ourselves busy. When I have been out, I have seen families taking walks together, getting to know each other again.
This will also reveal to us that so many things, so much stuff in our lives, really isn't necessary. It is my deep desire that we will rediscover how great our faith practice is and how we may have been taking it for granted. Sometimes we realize how much we desire something when we are deprived of it.
In the season of Lent, this is one of the reasons we practice fasting. Fasting has long been a practice to ask God for the forgiveness of our sins as well as, as a people, to call upon God for deliverance. I ask you to please consider choosing a day to fast. I will be fasting on Fridays and perhaps we can be spiritually united in this ancient practice. Also there are many rosaries and other devotions live streaming on Zoom and other social media platforms—join in. I am very grateful that we have the internet as a way to continue coming together. For the past week our community in the school and parish gatherings has taken on the appearance of Hollywood Squares or the Brady Bunch. I have never been a fan of video conferences taking the place of face-to-face encounters, but when that is not possible, it is so, so great to see you online, for now. I pray you stay cautious, healthy, and hopeful.
God bless you.