Message from Father Tom
updated 3/27/2020: 2:30 PM
As we begin our third week of dealing with the disruption to our lives, I feel the need to offer a word of encouragement. I, like you, find the restrictions and having to think carefully before every action very exhausting. Every choice is fraught with questions as to whether it is good for me, and even more importantly, if it is good for those around me. I (perhaps very foolishly) feel a sense that I will be alright, that I could weather the illness if it should strike. But, and this is the hard part for me, the choices I make are not just about me, they affect those I wish to serve. If, because of my desire to be present to those in need in the usual way, I should bring illness to them, it would be the exact opposite of what was intended. I am sure many of you are struggling with similar choices: children want to visit elderly parents, grandparents want
to be with grandchildren (and vice versa), and many similar circumstances taking place in our lives. Modern technology is wonderful (and should be used where possible), but we all know it is just not the same. The quick asides in conversations, the glances and winks, and the gentle touch between loved ones cannot be fully experienced except in person. Humans are social beings, it’s just what we are, and when that contact is missing we are affected by that lack.
With all that description of the difficulty, you might say that this isn’t very encouraging. There is, however, another aspect to us that must not be overlooked. We are also spiritual beings. Years ago the Church spoke often of the Mystical Body of Christ. I haven’t heard it too much lately, but it remains profoundly true, and can offer us strength in these times. We are connected in ways we do not see with human eyes by the bond formed in us at Baptism, where Jesus Christ becomes our brother. This is no mere symbolic expression, but one of fact – God our Father has adopted us as His children. We are His sons and daughters now. And this means that each of us has an immediate and real effect on all our brothers and sisters, no matter the seeming
separation that may be taking place. We have the power, through this relationship, to change the lives of all of our siblings in Christ, even from a human distance, for there is no distance between those who live in Christ.
What I am saying is what our faith teaches us: all suffer when one suffers and all prosper when one prospers. In fact, we can offer our suffering and struggle as a sacrifice for others who are in distress, and it will lift them up. Let me give an example of how this can work for us: the longing in our heart to be with a loved one who we cannot visit now can be offered to God as a gift for Him to use as chooses. This gift becomes a sacrifice, which God can transform into a gift of grace to soften another’s sadness and heartache. We really are that closely connected, though we may not always be aware of it. And this is the encouragement I speak of: that in this time when it seems we are powerless, we actually have a greater power than we commonly think of – the power to use our sacrifice to raise the hearts and minds of others. What truly is more powerful than that?
Continue to stay safe and healthy. Let us keep each other in our prayers.
After receiving advice from several of my brother priests, it was
suggested that this weekend might be too soon to offer Confessions. It
is still a time of much risk in possibly gathering people, even in
smaller groups as might come for Confession.
Taking their counsel and thinking more about it, I have decided, with
much regret, that we will not be offering Confessions this weekend.
I will continue to work to find a way to do this for all of you, but now
is not the time for us to gather in this way.
Know you are being prayed for, and asking yours as always, I remain,
Yours in Christ,
So much of what we have been sharing lately about our schedule and dealing with health concerns has been what we cannot do. I am so happy to offer some of the things that we can do, and offer a word of thanks to Fr. David for having set up the Livestreaming service years ago.
We are pleased to be able to update you on what will be taking place here at St. John’s regarding the celebration of weekday and Sunday Masses in the near future. The Bishop has directed us to suspend public celebrations of Mass until further notice. Priests are still permitted to celebrate Mass, but without a congregation. Here at St. John’s this means that we will be able to Livestream our Masses for you to share.
Weekday Mass will continue to be celebrated at 7:30am Monday through Thursday, and these will be Livestreamed through our website. (The Saturday morning Mass will be suspended for now.)
Weekend Masses will be celebrated at 4:00 pm on Saturday and at 9:00 am on Sunday. (Note that we are combining the two Sunday morning Masses into one at 9:00 am.) These also will be Livestreamed.
In addition, the church will be open for visits and prayer Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. On Saturday it will be open from 9:00 am until 3:30 pm, and on Sunday from 10:00 am until 12:00 Noon.
Confessions will be available on Saturdays from 2:30-3:30 pm, at which time the church will be closed for the rest of the day. (Please do not come for Confession late, as we must be strict about ending Confessions at 3:30 pm, so that we can prepare for Mass at 4:00 pm. The church must be cleared before we can celebrate Mass.)
At this time we are still hoping to offer the Rosary before morning Mass, though we still have to work those details out, as those sharing this will have to leave church before Mass can be offered. We may have to adapt this as we go forward. Please watch for further information on this.
We are also planning on offering the Stations of the Cross by Livestream on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm. We will miss gathering for Soup, but the work that goes into the Stations by our Ministries and Families is so appreciated by so many that it would be a shame to drop these.
Thank you to all who have been working so hard to deal with the current upheaval of our lives and schedules. And thanks to all who will be making more than their usual sacrifices to help us continue to be the vibrant family of faith that we are. Though it will be expressing itself in different ways, the underlying reality is that we on a journey together with our Lord. This might be considered our time to live the Stations of the Cross with Him in real life. Let us each be willing to be sources of encouragement and support to each other. It is a lot harder when we can’t do it face-to-face, but we are still called to live the truth that our God walks each step with us, even when our human eyes cannot see Him there. He truly is at our side at every moment.
My Dear Friends,
These are, to be sure, difficult times. With so much news of a threatening nature we perhaps need to be reminded that though touched by fears, worries, and anxieties our God continues to be at our side. No slight disturbance of ours go unnoticed by Him -- such is His care for us.
With that said, we are making temporary changes to respond to the current very real risks, so that when they are past we may continue to praise and thank God for His many blessings that are so often and regularly enjoyed here. As you read the list of things not taking place for now, take a thought as to how blessed we are that so many good things occur here throughout the rest of the year.
The following events will not be taking place until further notice (We will inform you when they are restarted) :
Fellowship after Mass
Walking With Purpose
Children’s choir practice
Seasons of Hope bereavement group
Altar Angels - canceled this month
Faith Formation - all classes canceled through the end of the year.
First Communion (grade 2) - Parents will be contacted as soon as we have more information
Soup and Stations - Soup cancelled. Stations of the Cross will be live-streamed only beginning at 7 PM through the rest of Lent.
The Church will be open for prayer Monday - Friday from 8 am until 3pm.
The Welcome Center will be open Monday - Thursday from 9-12 .
We will keep you informed, via these emails, the webpage, www.stjohnspocasset.org and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sjepocasset/ should anything change. If you know of parishioners who are not on line, please be kind and pass this on to them. Please check these resources before calling the Welcome Center.
Though these changes are difficult for many of us, perhaps we might try to enter more fully into an understanding of true sacrifice during Lent, and make these part of our gift to God in our hearts and prayers.
You are now and always will be in our prayers. Make good choices and stay healthy! God bless you!