In the liturgy of the Church, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. We recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the holy city. It is a bittersweet remembrance because we know that no sooner had he celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples that he was arrested, tried, convicted, and put to death. But Jerusalem is more than the site of his crucifixion. It is also the site of his resurrection. Through his sacrifice, we all hope to one day reach the eternal Jerusalem.
It is a very painful experience to know that we will not be able to participate physically together in the liturgy of the Holy Week. For many of us this is happening for the first time in our lifetime. However, we have been living in a reality which imposes on us a totally new and never experienced standard of living and worshiping.
Although we cannot participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can receive God’s love and mercy in special way. In an e-mail from the Archdiocese we can read:
Given that our churches are closed and a stay-at-home order is in effect:
- individual confessions are currently not possible; this includes virtual or phone confessions, which are never permissible, nor drive-thru confessions. Despite the good intentions around such novelty, we must attend to our underlying theological tradition of the sacrament, as well as support the stay-at-home order and its intended purpose – to keep people safe in their homes at this time.
- in keeping with longstanding pastoral practice when penitents’ access to the sacrament is restricted, they can be assured that their sins are forgiven if they make an act of contrition with a firm resolve to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation after the stay-at-home order is lifted.
- the faithful should be encouraged to pray particular prayers or meditate on passages of the bible in seeking the mercy and forgiveness of God and the grace of reconciliation.
We can also obtain an indulgence under these conditions:
The Plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they:
- unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion,
- or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters,
- with the will to fulfill the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible, when the suspensions are lifted.
In this time of challenge, we have been given a spiritual weapon against evil, which can help us in days to come. As we stay more in our homes, we have an opportunity to pray and remember each other, asking God to keep us healthy and safe. Once again, I want to assure you about my prayers for ALL OF YOU any time I pray privately or celebrate Mass in the chapel.
Although St. Bernardine cannot operate as usual, we still need money to pay our bills. Therefore, I encourage you to continue to send your donations, either via U.S. Mail or drop off at the rectory mailbox.
We will not celebrate Easter in a traditional way, but it does not mean that we will not be united in prayer. We can watch Mass on TV and make an Act of Spiritual Communion. Most of all we can make a reflection on this day to come inspired by words of Pope Francis: “The pandemic is not a judgment from God, but a time for us to judge, to choose what matters and what passes away… It is a time to get our lives back on track.”
God bless you.