Letter from Fr. Keith (April 4)

April 2, 2020

Dear Parishioners of St. Dunstan’s,

We are nearing the end of another week dealing with the world-wide pandemic. In our province, the news has been relatively heartening. Our new cases of COVID-19 have been manageable,and thus far, there is no indication of community spread. Dr. Morrison has cautioned us, though, that we need to keep vigilant. Frequent hand-washing, physical distancing, and as far as is possible, except for necessary ventures, to stay at home: those practices remain essential if we are to do our part in curbing the virus. The Gospel call—emanating from the example of Jesus himself—that we love one another, impels us to make responsible other-centred choices, particularly at this time.

As I write this, we are on the threshold of Holy Week. It will be a different experience for us. Our usual liturgical celebrations are not possible. The thought of it breaks our hearts. Each of us will deal with this in our own way. Together—while apart—we’ll all grieve the loss of these holy assemblies in whatever way we must. Then, let’s pledge to pray for the grace to live in the reality of the present moment. That’s where God is: in the here and now of our lives. The difficulties this situation imposes upon us present an invitation: to come to a deeper appreciation of the presence of God within us, around us, where we are.

St. Paul said something similar in his second letter to the Corinthians (6: 1-2): We beg you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In an acceptable time I have heard you; on a day of salvation I have helped you.” Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation! Himself, no stranger to hardship and affliction, Paul was able to say, in the same letter (4:16-18): Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary…affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

The salvation wrought through the events we commemorate this week remains God’s gift to us. Who we are and where we are, may we celebrate that great salvation: ours through the cross and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

This Palm Sunday, we’ll call to mind the words of the eighth-century bishop, St, Andrew of Crete: Let us run to accompany [Christ] as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us. In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, so glad that he came and lived among us and shared our nature in order to raise us up again to himself.

On the evening of Holy Thursday, remember these words from the night Jesus instituted the Eucharist: and during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had put all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him…After he had washed their feet…Jesus said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? …I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you (selected verses, Jn. 13: 1-15). Doing, in the present state of affairs, what’s asked of us to safeguard public health is washing one another’s feet in our own time and place. It’s our response to the gift of the Eucharist.

This Good Friday, let us be mindful of the presence of the cross in our own lives, in the life of the world. Unite ourselves with the Crucified One in the sacrifice of not being able to come together, in the inconveniences and challenges of social and physical distancing, of staying home when we’d sooner go for a visit, in the surrender of what we feel like doing in order to observe faithfully what we must do for the greater good.

Holy Saturday night, recollect the light of resurrection penetrating and scattering the darkness of fear and uncertainty, paralyzing the disciples in the wake of the death of Jesus. From the Exultet, these words: This is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld…O truly blessed night when things of heaven are wed to those of earth and divine to the human…

Easter morning, recall Mary Magdalene: … [S]he turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (selected verses, Jn. 20: 1-18). These days, often unrecognized, Jesus comes to us and calls us by name in our tears and bewilderment, reassuring us that life, not death, has the final say.

I’ll conclude by reminding you to call or send me an email if I can be of help: 902-894-3486; frkeithstdunstans@gmail.com. The Knights of Columbus continue to offer their assistance if anyone needs an errand run. Contact Don Chevarie, Grand Knight, 902-566-4337. Others have offered to keep in contact by phone if someone would like that service. They may be contacted through me.

We look to the day, my dear brothers and sisters, when shall be together in our church again, all the more appreciative of what it is to come together to worship and to be sent forth. In the meantime, let us pray for one another and for those who are leading us toward renewed health and wholeness, as we do our part to support them in their efforts for the well-being of us all.

For your information, I will be presiding at Mass from Holy Redeemer this Palm Sunday morning at 9 o’clock on Eastlink, Channel 10 or 610.

Peace be with you,
Fr. Keith

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