Dear People of St. Dunstan’s,
I am writing this to let you know that I am thinking of you and praying for you every day. We’re living in a most unfamiliar situation. It’s easy to be afraid. The disruption the current state of affairs has brought to our daily routine highlights the situation all the more.
On Tuesday of this week, we received word that, until further notice, we would not be celebrating Mass together. This followed the concern and advice of public health officials that, in an attempt to slow the spread of the corona virus, we avoid gatherings. A number of other dioceses in our country had made that necessary decision several days prior to Bishop Richard’s letter.
Though the decision was essential, its consequences cause us pain. The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our life together in the Body of Christ. The Mass brings us comfort and peace. We meet each other there, and realize we are brothers and sisters in Christ. The Eucharistic Real Presence of the Lord is truly our Bread of Life. The Lord’s Day sets the rhythm for the six days that follow.
Our current situation reminds me of a period in the life of the Jewish people some 550 years before the time of Jesus. They were living as exiles in a foreign land. Their deepest pain was the fear that God was not with them. Because the Temple and its familiar prayers and rituals were far away, they lamented that God, too, was gone. Into their anguish stepped the prophet, Ezekiel. God had given him a vision of the Jerusalem Temple. Suddenly, the doors of that grand and stately place opened, and toward the land of their exile flowed a trickle that became a river of life-giving water. The message to those long-ago and destitute people of God: “If you can’t go to where you’re accustomed to meeting God, God will come to you.”
Today, God meets us where we are. The present circumstances keep us from the familiar prayers and rituals that bring about and speak of his nearness and care. Be not afraid. Think of Ezekiel’s vision. Feel the great river of God’s grace flowing toward us, enfolding us, filling us with life, with hope, with peace.
I am writing this on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. In the Divine Office this morning, we prayed this intercession: You chose Joseph the righteous to care for your Son in childhood and youth—teach us to care for Christ’s body by caring for our brothers and sisters.
That simple petition reminded me of the link between the Eucharist and love of neighbour. We are complying with the directives of the health officials as an act of love for others. Parishioners are fasting from the Eucharist—a kind of Lenten desert experience. At the same time, we’re helping combat a virus that thrives and spreads when people are in close physical proximity. Both of these realities are lived in anticipation of the day when we will be together once again in our beautiful Basilica.
In the meantime, if you or anyone you know would like me to be in contact, please call me at 902-894-3486 or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org The Knights of Columbus have generously offered to be of service if anyone is in need of having an errand run or any such thing. They may also be contacted through the means provided above.
Please be reminded of the Mass, arranged by the Diocese, to be televised from Holy Redeemer Sunday mornings at 9 on Eastlink, Channel 10.
Let us pray for one another; be especially mindful of the most vulnerable around us, and reach out as we can; respect and follow the guidelines the health and government authorities issue in the service of the greater good. Take the situation seriously, but don’t panic. May we hold up in prayerful gratitude our officials at all levels, health care workers and support staff in our hospitals and community, and those scientists who work tirelessly toward the development of treatments and a vaccine. With God’s help, in the care of one another, we shall see this through.
I’ll keep in touch. Peace be with you, Fr. Keith