Dear Parishioners & Friends:
Christ is risen!
In the spirit of love, His Eminence has provided us with a modification to his previous Directive as a first phase to reopening our church in a measured way. This Directive gives us prudent path toward receiving the Sacraments beginning Sunday, May 17, 2020.
Since it is a first step, there are many details. These details are important to meet various regulations, but they can also seem a bit overwhelming.
I found it very helpful to join with His Eminence in a Zoom call yesterday with nearly 300 priests and deacons in the Archdiocese. He spoke about the details and answered our many questions. In the same way, I will be pleased to talk with you and answer any questions you have when we have our Zoom call this Sunday after Mass.
Before getting to the details, let me first summarize the spirit and tone of the Directive and today’s call.
His Eminence urges us to not be afraid, and at the same time to be prudent. None of us wants to do anything that will hurt others—either physically or, most importantly, spiritually. To paraphrase His Eminence, “When the life of humans is endangered, doctors use their tools and we [bishops and priests] use our tools: prayer, forgiveness of sins, material aid—all toward the goal of saving souls.”
That was the loving message from His Eminence. It is a message of hope and encouragement, and filled with pastoral wisdom.
In collaboration with our Diocesan Bishops, His Eminence has given us discretion in proceeding with caution in the upcoming weeks. By your continued prayers, they hope that this gradual increase in our sacramental life will not require any reversal of the positive trends that we have recently observed.
As you know, the situation in Los Angeles county is different than in other places. Therefore, with pastoral discretion, here is how we will implement His Eminence’s instructions at St Michael’s:
- Saturday Vespers, Sunday Lauds, and Sunday Mass will continue to be live streamed as before. (Other services will not be live streamed except for Ascension Day.)
Receiving Holy Communion
- Laity may receive communion in family groups after the Mass by registering in advance. To register, you must contact Fr John the day before, and he will assign your family group a time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (A “family group” consists of those who live in the same dwelling.)
- All who attend must wear a face covering, except at the moment when Holy Communion is received. (“The celebrant should not wear a face covering while serving.”)
- Holy Communion will be offered in the usual manner. For your safety, Fr John will clean his fingers and hands frequently when giving communion.
- Before receiving Holy Communion, prepare yourself by saying at least Psalm 42 , 84 , and 122 . For your convenience, these Psalms, with other prayers before Communion, are attached.
- Those experiencing cold or flu symptoms (fever, coughing, fatigue, etc.), the elderly, and any at-risk persons should remain at home, and may contact Fr John for an individual appointment to receive Confession and Holy Communion.
- Before your scheduled time, please remain in your car and maintain appropriate physical distancing, wearing a face covering, if you interact with anyone outside your family group.
- After receiving communion, please depart in the prescribed pattern and in a timely manner so that the next family group may enter.
- Given the inability to confess during Lent and the long absence from Communion, as well as anxiety, fear, despair, and other passions we have all felt during this pandemic, you are encouraged to come to the Sacrament of Penance (Private Confession) before receiving the Eucharist.
- Confession will be available by appointment on weekdays and Saturdays.
- Physical distancing between Fr John and the penitent will be observed; and the absolution will be spoken from a distance without placing a hand on the penitent’s head.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Before May 15, the entire facility will be professionally deep-cleaned and sanitized for your safety.
- When you arrive, we ask that you refrain from touching the pews, door handles, or other items (except the top of the communion rail, which will be sanitized between each person).
- Hand sanitizer will be available in the Narthex. Because supplies are short, we ask that you consider bringing your own for personal use.
- Please observe all posted signs which encourage good hygiene practices.
- The church and parish hall are closed for all non-liturgical functions. All Bible studies, Didache, catechetical instruction, organizational meetings, and various groups will continue to meet online (i.e., via Zoom).
- Beginning May 18, by appointment only the church will be open during the week for private prayer and lighting candles. Fr John will be available during this time to lead a devotion or meet with you, following the safe procedures in effect in our county. If you come during these times, please limit your contact with furniture, pews, etc. and follow posted signs when you make use of this opportunity.
will be celebrated daily (see schedule below) and family groups may register to
receive communion after the Mass on any of those days. To
register, you must contact Fr John the day before who will assign your family
group a time.
- Mondays: 7 p.m.
- Tuesdays: 9 a.m.
- Wednesdays: 9 a.m.
- Thursdays: 9 a.m.
- Fridays: 7 p.m.
- Saturdays: 9 a.m.
Finally, His Eminence made it clear that our Archdiocese is partnering with other Orthodox bishops as well as Catholic bishops and Protestant leaders to petition our State Government and Governor to certify in clear terms that clergy as “essential workers” and worship as “essential.”
Your patience, understanding, care for others, and most especially prayers for our state and nation during this pandemic health crisis are appreciated and welcome. And, by the prayers of the Holy Archangel Michael, may our parish family be guarded and protected from all harm.
Your spiritual father in Christ,
Rev Msgr John W Fenton