Letter from Fr. Keith (April 18)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

Today marks one month since we last gathered for the celebration of the Eucharist. If someone had suggested to us, even six weeks ago, that life would be as we find it this mid-April, we would scarcely have believed them. Nonetheless, here we are. And not only we, the world with us. It could be a moment of greater solidarity between and among peoples and nations. We pray, when the current reality is behind us, that may be one of its lasting legacies.

On PEI, the news is much this week as last: a minimum of new cases, recovery of most of those who have been infected, and, at this writing, no reported COVID-19 hospitalizations. Public health and government officials are cautioning us—even as we eagerly look down the road to an eventual loosening of restrictions—that we need to keep our resolve. Curbing our excursions to that which is truly essential and practicing physical distancing: these remain the order of the day. Not only are these marks of responsible citizenship; they are the fruit of the practice of Christian virtues: hope, perseverance, and love.

I chatted with someone on the phone just a bit ago. The person jokingly said they could scarcely distinguish one day from another. They added, “I know now a bit of what someone in solitary confinement must feel!” The conversation then turned to the opportunity our present situation gives us to try to put ourselves in the shoes of lots of our brothers and sisters in so many parts of the world, who live—for a whole host of reasons—in physical, emotional, spiritual confinement. As we experience our inevitable frustration, even anguish, will we allow our hearts and minds to be lifted toward them? Will the reality of our present moment help us be more grateful, more compassionate? Such thoughts come to all of us in our effort and desire to live our communal encounter with the corona virus in faith.

And we meet all of that in this time of Easter. Easter doesn’t deny struggle and fear. Easter reassures believers, and through us, all humanity, that in the power of the risen Christ, neither struggle nor fear has the final say. That was the message to Mary Magdalene and Peter and the others last week. That’s the message to Thomas this Sunday. Even in those moments when we may feel like giving up—moments we realize, when we read the Gospel stories, these great heroes of faith all had—even when the chips are down, we are able, in Christ, to rise above the fray, and live on.

Rising above the fray: that’s what our Bible ancestors were able to do; that’s what essential workers in hospitals and grocery stores and trucks and repair shops are able to do in April 2020; that’s what scientists working day and night to find treatments and a vaccine are able to do. That’s what we’re able to do, brothers and sisters, in our day-to-day ups and downs. And all because of the presence of the Risen One, he who is the Divine Mercy. He became like us, many of the early Christian teachers taught, so that we can be like him: showing the face of mercy to the world.

We are that face, friends, when we put aside what we feel like doing in order to protect the common good, when we give someone a call whom we know might be having a tough time or simply want to hear a friendly voice, when we support those under our own roof, when we pray for medical researchers, for those on the front lines, for our health officials, our political leaders, for those who are ill and their families, for those who have died and those who grieve for them. We are the face of mercy when we embrace hope, and do what we can to share it.

I continue to hold you up in prayer every day, and to let my mind wander around the church seeing your faces. I look forward in anticipation of the day when we will be together again in body, as we are now in spirit. Think of that being together in spirit the next time you say the Apostle’s creed and mouth the words, “I believe in the communion of saints.” That’s our belief in the power of God’s love being so profound that it keeps us together, even if we must be physically apart. It’s the Father’s answer to the prayer of Jesus the night before he died, that they may be one as we are one (Jn. 17:11b). It’s the fruit of their gift of the Spirit. It’s a relationship we’re invited to receive with joy and gratitude, and to handle with care.

As with last week, we will be live streaming the Mass from SDU Place this Sunday morning at 10:30. You may access it through If you click on this link https://www.facebook.com/events/227362231819572/, it should take you there. I look forward to praying with you: “together, apart.”

Blessings be upon you and yours.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

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