June 7 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
What is man that You are mindful of him, and a son of man that You care for him?” (Ps 8:5)
This one verse keeps reverberating in my soul these days when I am continually seized with wonder at how the good God has been “holding me close to Him” and refusing to let the anguished desolation of my circumstances crush me like a little bug of no consequence! The fact is, this darned virus have not succeeded to carry me off into the land of oblivion. That, to me, is already a most powerful testament to the sustaining love of the God of the living for me, for us. There is nothing like this insidious pandemic to focus the mind on the one thing I would like to forget: how fragile and how transient human life truly is! (You can see that the pandemic is still very much on my mind!) And yet, most amazingly, God loves us still, and His love has been enough to keep at bay the terrible Coronavirus! But more than the fear of being stricken is this feeling of inadequacy, of helplessness, of “nothingness” in front of this illness. And so far the only reason why this nothingness I am feeling at this very moment is not able to crush me is, in the words of Fr. Julian Carron, “A ‘You’ who hears the cry”. More powerful than the most potent and deadly virus is the Presence of Someone who has heard my cry in the night. That Someone is mindful of me and “holds me dearer than the entire universe”! This is why, even in these terrible days of quarantine and social distancing, I could feel gratitude welling up in my heart: the knowledge of a “preference” by that Someone, Who has not ceased to be by my side so that I might “not be alone with [my] . . . . nothingness”. Because that Someone is here, life is worth living.
Yes, it is tedious, but we must continue to take every necessary precaution to guard against contracting this insidious COVID-19. But ultimately, when all is said and done, what is more effective than the most powerful vaccine the scientists might come up with is the “certainty” of a “preference”! This and this alone will “vibrate” in the depths of our souls and keep us going - today, tomorrow, and forever!
PS: By the way, the above musings were inspired by something written by Fr. Carron for Communio Liberatio. Italicized words were taken from his talk.
May 31 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
Last Sunday we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord. The mystery of the Ascension reveals the mystery of the Man-God Jesus Christ. We know from where Jesus comes, because we see where He is going: He comes from the Father and now He is returning to Him. And this has great implication for us: our life is not hanging in thin air: God is our beginning and so He must be also our end.
Christ is the One who, in His incarnation, has united heaven and earth. He has joined together extremes: the poverty of man with the infinite riches of God, the lowly earth and the exalted heaven, the corruptible material and the enduring spiritual. Heaven is not a place faraway and above and beyond the most distant stars; heaven is where man can find place in God. Christ is heaven itself! Think about what Pope Benedict said a long time ago: “[Christ] himself is, therefore, what we call ‘heaven’, because heaven is not a space, but a person, the person of the one in whom God and man are forever inseparably united. And we get closer to the heaven, indeed we enter into heaven, in the measure in which we draw near to Jesus and enter into him.” (J. Ratzinger, Homily for Ascension 1975).
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Christ went back to heaven so that He might be able to send us the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who will keep us on the path to heaven. It is the Holy Spirit who will keep us from losing our hearts in front of difficulties. It is the Holy Spirit who reminds us of our destiny and embolden us to strive toward that destiny in the midst of this constantly changing world! Come, Holy Spirit! Come, and renew the face of the earth! Amen!
May 24 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
Mass has been reopened on a limited basis for almost three weeks now and I have observed some beautiful things!
The first thing I saw really warmed my heart: people who showed up for Mass were genuinely happy to be back in church; they were glad to be able to assist at Holy Mass - in person! All these weeks away from the altar had intensified this longing for Mass in the soul. They were simply joyful to be able to be physically present before the altar. This simple fact speaks to the central meaning of the mystery of the Lord’s Ascension (which we celebrate this Sunday), while we are in this world we do not belong to this world! We are made for heaven. As sojourners, our hearts continue to be restless until we have reached our destination – our heavenly homeland. The church is truly the gate of heaven, and our home away from our true home! My other observation is the recognition that folks were just simply happy to be together! Social distancing notwithstanding, people were pleased to see each other again after weeks cooped up in their own homes or apartments!
While the pandemic is still raging around us, please stay home as long as your health cannot stand up to the virus. The church will still be here to welcome you back when you could return! Meanwhile, God has seen fit to inspire and motivate our people to be generous with their support so that we could keep the lights on and the furnace running!
May the Good Lord shower His blessings upon you all!
May 17 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
I will tell you a recent conversation I had with a priest friend. He is very concerned that his parish shall remain empty even after normalization. Now, this priest friend of mine is an experienced pastor – he is not a rookie, but has quite a few years under his belt. In his life he has seen many ups and downs. But now he is really afraid that there will be no return to the good old days – the days before the darned Covid-19 plague. He is afraid that his people are so convinced that going to Mass is detrimental to their health that they would stay home for good! Why should they risk their lives venturing out to go to church if they have permission from the Bishop to stay home on Sundays? That one thought alone keeps him up at night. He is heart-broken whenever he thinks that the august Sacrifice of the Mass, which saves the world, is now being looked upon as something that might be contributing to the demise of the faithful. My priest friend cannot get over the fact that, for many people going to Mass on Sunday is an unhealthy thing! My priest friend is now convinced that all the new requirements for the re-opening of public Masses are pointless, because people are too afraid to go back to church!
I offered him this advice: “Don’t be so anxious! Use this opportunity to catechize your people about the Mass! Tell them that, when they are at Mass physically, they are truly witnesses to the greatest act of love in human history! Tell them that, when they are in church for Mass, they are actually standing with our Lord’s Mother and John and Mary Magdalene keeping watch with Him as He was dying! Tell them that God wants them to join Him at the altar, not just watch it from afar! Tell them that God wants His friends to be with Him in His House! Tell them that ‘Blessed are they who are invited to the Lamb’s Supper!’ Remind them that during the Iraqi War when our soldiers were so far away from home, SKYPING was never adequate! Families wanted to have their loved ones in front of them in person! No amount of phone calls, emails, skyping, were enough to ease the sadness and the sorrow of physical separation! YouTube Mass is good, but real-life Mass is infinitely better! Above all, pray for your people that their hunger for the Holy Mass shall outweigh their fear of the virus! “
You know what I think? I think my priest friend is a worrywart! I think he should pray more! I think he ought to take a bike ride and just relax! People will return to church in due time!