Letter from Fr. Keith (May 29)

May 29, 2020

Dear Parishioners of St. Dunstan’s,

This Sunday, the Easter season comes to a close as we celebrate Pentecost. The most familiar image most of us have of this feast is described for us in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Wind filling the house where the fledgling community gathered, while divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

We’re told there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem that day when the Spirit was poured out upon the disciples and the face of the earth. The fact that the multitude spoke many different languages and had been influenced by diverse cultures proved no obstacle to the work of the Spirit. We hear that even though those who spoke under the Spirit’s direction were all Galileans, everyone heard what they said in their own native tongue.

The mystery of Pentecost, as with all the mysteries of Christ we remember and celebrate in the liturgy, participate in the timelessness of God. Because of that, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not left behind in the mists of history. This is the day when the Spirit comes afresh. This is the time and this is the place when the same Spirit as at Jerusalem that long-ago-day animates the multi-fold gifts that Paul speaks of in our second reading. Gifts given to individuals, not as our private possessions, but rather held in trust for the good of all.

Today is the time, here is the place when the Spirit empowers us to live wisely, compassionately, and hopefully in the midst of the corona-virus-pandemic, making choices and decisions enhancing the lives and well-being of those close to us, and of those brothers and sisters far beyond our horizon. It is the Spirit who bestows upon us the truth of the humble recognition that we need others as they need us, if life is to be as God intends.

This Monday, June 1, in our province, marks the beginning of Phase III in the easing of COVID-19’s restrictions. As many of you have heard, this has implications for our communal worship. Beginning Monday, a maximum of 15 are allowed for indoor gatherings. This past week, Bishop Grecco, with the consultation and the guidance of public health officials, issued a protocol for Catholic churches in the diocese. For the full text, see http://dioceseofcharlottetown.com/bishops-letter-protocol-for-funerals-rites-for-15-people/. Please note: this protocol applies to weekday Masses. Permission has not yet been granted to resume Sunday Eucharist.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, we will celebrate the Eucharist at 9 am, downstairs in Glastonbury Hall. We must limit the congregation size, including myself, to 15. Those wanting to attend are asked to register through this email address: massatstdunstans@gmail.com. For those without email access, please call 902-894-3486. Leave a message, if necessary. Please include your name and the names of those in your household who plan to attend, and your phone number. You will be notified as to the Mass you will be scheduled to attend. These are unusual times. For that reason, and in order to accommodate as many people as possible over the four days, no one should anticipate being there daily.

Please enter by the Dorchester St. entrance. The doors will open at 8:50. Kindly observe physical distancing of 2 meters / six feet between yourself and others while waiting outdoors. For the Mass, chairs will be arranged so as to maintain the necessary separation.  At this time, no lingering in the building after Mass please, and once outside, we are asked to maintain the needed separation.

Public Health directives state that anyone who feels unwell or has travelled outside Prince Edward Island over the last two weeks should not attend. Further, according to guidelines posted on the PEI Government website, “take extra precautions if you are at increased risk, especially those who are aged 65 years and older, have a compromised immune system, and/or have underlying medical conditions.” Anyone who is apprehensive should not come. Would you be so good as to make those who may not see this letter aware of the Masses and the procedure and precautions to follow?

While, admittedly, these guidelines are unfamiliar and seem rigid, they are, for the present, necessary for our individual and communal well-being. Let us bear with one another for the good of all. Your kind cooperation and understanding are appreciated, and will help us all as we move forward. This is likely—including for me—not the manner in which, back in mid-March, we anticipated our return. Nonetheless, it is the reality to which we need respond. We can take heart in the fact that we have moved forward to this point, by the grace of God, the direction of our officials, and our own good will in responding to what has been asked of us over the past weeks.

Some personal great news this week: my sister, on the Island, and I will be able, beginning Monday, to visit our soon-to be-88-year-old mother, who resides at the Prince Edward Home. We have kept in touch by phone calls and window visits, but it will be wonderful to be in her physical presence. Let us remember all long-term care residents and staff in our prayer.

Once again this Sunday, we hope to live stream the Mass from SDU Place. Some have told me of their difficulty accessing it. We hope the problem has been fixed. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/stdunstansbasilica

Let us pray for each other and for the world as we continue our trek through our present circumstances. In their own way, the steps to our “new normal” may well be as unfamiliar and challenging as was the lock-down. It is good for us to call on our faith, and the love of one another. Each day we encounter the unfamiliar—as did those long-ago Pentecost folks from those difficult-to-pronounce places—let us remember that challenging day is the day when the Holy Spirit is given. The life of God, the power of the risen Jesus, is as present and effective now as then.

My prayer is with you. Please pray for me.

Peace be with you and yours,

Fr. Keith

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