We're Still Diciples - Don't Panic

03-15-2020Pastor's LetterFr. Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I’m sure you are aware, the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be a topic of concern in our communities, and I have gotten several questions in reference to its spread and our parish life. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta terms the spread of the virus a “rapidly evolving situation.” As disciples, we should, of course, not panic and take sensible precautions. A faithful disciple of Jesus Christ must be the example for others. We are still the light of the world, keeping unselfish love for others as our first standard.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Diocese continues to recommend liturgical accommodations for all parishes until such time as the coronavirus is no longer a threat. Of course, these measures will help curb the spread of the “regular” flu and cold as well, which is an added benefit. At Mass, we will continue to omit the giving of the Sign of Peace. We also have discontinued the distribution of the common chalices for now.

Parishioners who are sick with any form of cold or flu are reminded that they are not obliged to attend Mass, and staying home can even be an act of charity towards their fellow parishioners. So to be clear, anyone who is ill or suspects that he or she is ill should refrain from participation in public activities, including Mass. If a person refrains from Sunday Mass due to illness, that person is dispensed from the Sunday obligation. If you are actively taking care of a person who is sick with the cold or flu, consider staying home so that you don’t bring more than your smile to Mass. Based on the information provided by the CDC, those who are elderly and currently healthy also may choose to stay home, for now, to avoid inadvertently catching this or any other virus.

Although the Diocese has not yet recommended emptying holy water fonts (as of the publishing of the bulletin on Tuesday), recall that it is a sacramental and is not absolutely necessary.

Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should be sure to wash their hands thoroughly before Mass and to use the hand sanitizer we will provide as they come up into the sanctuary. EMHC’s should also refrain from distributing Holy Communion if they even suspect they might be sick. Don’t worry – we can handle your absence.

Above all, as we take practical action, we also need to take spiritual action. We are, after all, Christians who believe God is interwoven into every single aspect of daily life. “In days of old when ‘pestilence’ broke out, there would be a call for prayer and fasting to halt the pestilence and for recovery of those afflicted. ... The Rosary has been an incredibly important weapon in times of need for Christianity. ... Say the Rosary every day for the halt of the coronavirus and the full and speedy recovery of all those afflicted. I also think it appropriate during Lent to add a sacrifice or fast to your prayers.” (Steve Bollman of Paradisus Dei)

And as always, let us pray for each other! Father Wilson