As we enter this final week before Holy Week, the narrative of Jesus’ life on earth builds to a climax. In the Gospels of the last two weeks, Jesus gave water to those who thirsted and light to those who would not see. Water and light are essentials to life. Today we hear Jesus giving life itself to someone who has died. The giver of water and light is also the giver of his life itself. Let us thank God for the gift of our Savior as we prepare for the final two weeks of Lent.
Due to the Corona Virus situation, we live in a totally new reality. We must follow directions given by the authorities, which limit our normal interactions, and activities we might love to do. This situation has impacted our religious activities as well. At the beginning of this health crisis, we were told we should not gather for the Eucharist, although we could come to the church for private prayer and adoration. New orders from the Governor have dictated that from March 21 to at least April 7 the church and rectory must be closed. These are the instructions I have received from the Archdiocese:
Governor Pritzker’s mandatory stay-at-home order for the State of Illinois means the following for our parishes effective 5 p.m. Saturday, March 21 through Tuesday, April 7:
- All churches and adoration chapels must be closed and locked until the order is lifted by the governor. Private prayer in any parish building must be discontinued until the order is lifted.
- There can be no live Stations of the Cross or any other gatherings anywhere on parish/school property, nor can any parish personnel be involved in organizing them on any other site.
- All weddings and baptisms must be postponed and can be re-scheduled only once the order is lifted. There are no exceptions to this, regardless of the size of the group. However, in case of an extreme emergency for baptism, please seek the permission of your bishop.
- Funerals and wakes must be postponed until the order is lifted.
(Note: Priests can – and are encouraged – to continue celebrating Mass privately and to live stream their Masses for their parishioners, if possible.)
- Parish offices must be closed until the governor’s order is lifted.
In this difficult time, I celebrate Masses daily in the chapel. I keep ALL OF YOU in my prayers when I say Mass and when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours as well. In the 29 years of my priesthood, I have never experienced this situation and I have to admit I miss our congregation and our liturgy together very much.
Although we cannot participate in a Mass, we are not separated from the grace of God. In these times, you can watch Mass every day on a TV at EDTN. Channel 7 will broadcast mass celebrated by Cardinal Cupich on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. We can receive spiritual communion as well. These are the words of the prayer which may accompany this special act:
An Act of Spiritual Communion
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
We do not know how long this situation will last. Although we cannot worship together we are a community of faithful, we are still parishioners of St. Bernardine Parish. As a family, we pray for each other, especially for those who are not doing well in this time.
Although St. Bernardine cannot operate as usual, we still need 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.
May God bless us in these challenging times. I assure you that you are in my prayers, believing I am present in yours.