There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 Jn 4.18)
It was good to see so many of you at today’s Mass. I’m confident that, during these Lenten days when our faith is being tried, you find great consolation in Our Lord’s Body (both ecclesial and eucharistic). Together and individually, let us offer our prayers
- for those afflicted in body (for those suffering the virus and its material effects)
- for those afflicted in mind (suffering isolation and loneliness)
- and for those afflicted in spirit (suffering fear, anxiety, and doubt)
In fact, those working from home or limited in their movements might want to devote their ‘extra’ time to prayer, as well as checking in on relatives, friends, neighbors, and parishioners.
Above all else, as I have said before, let us not give into fear. Rather, let us see these days as part of our Lenten sacrifice, a time when (as Hannah, Elijah, Job, and Anna) we can grow closer to our Father in the midst of our trial.
From the Archdiocese
After this morning’s Mass, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph sent the following encyclical, updating the measures the Antiochian parishes will take during the rapidly changing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this directive, at St Michael’s Church:
- All Bible studies, Parish Council, Men’s Workshop, Antiochian Women, Society of St Benedict, and other non-liturgical meetings and gatherings are cancelled.
- Lauds and Mass will be celebrated only on Sunday, with only myself, servers, and the choir in attendance.
- We will make every attempt to live-stream our Sunday liturgy. You will be notified when we have the details in place.
- On Friday, in keeping with the spirit of the Metropolitan’s directive, we will offer the Rosary at 7 p.m. followed immediately by “Prayer in the Time of Pestilence” (which includes blessing with the Relic of the True Cross). We will attempt to live-stream this devotion as well, since only myself, servers, and choir may attend.
- With your help, we will continue our daily cleaning and sanitizing. But we need your help to be diligent about this.
- I will be putting together and sending to you daily prayers and readings.
- The church will be open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day to give you the opportunity to offer individual prayers and light candles.
- I will keep individual appointments with those who need the ministry of the Church.
On a Personal Note
This is an extraordinary time, but not unprecedented. The Church has lived through worse diseases than COVID-19 and has emerged stronger every time because she has served the faithful without fear, and has found strength and comfort in the Eucharist and in prayer. And, true to her Lord, the Church has always been willing to sacrifice her well-being for the welfare of those who draw near in time of need. The greatest harm we can do to others and ourselves, then, is to let the devil drive us away from others, and God’s sacred mysteries. Of course, we must be prudent, which includes acts of love that are often inconvenient. But let our love be not because we are afraid of what may happen, but because we cling to Love Himself who casts out every fear.