This is Holy Week. A Holy Week unlike anything anyone has ever witnessed. One that just a few months ago, was unimaginable. It’s a Holy Week that will be experienced, for most of us, from the confines of our homes. Unheard of.
Archbishop José H. Gomez has this to say about Holy Week this year, “Our churches may be closed, but Christ is not quarantined and his Gospel is not in chains. Our Lord’s heart remains open to every man and woman. Even though we cannot worship together, each of us can seek him in the tabernacles or our hearts.”
The Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday) will not be the same.
I remember as a young altar boy hoping to be chosen to serve Mass on Holy Saturday — the longest Mass of the year, lasting up to two and a half hours -— so I could be close to everything. I felt that same pride again when our children, Jacob, Ethan and Abby, had that same honor when they served.
This year the closest I will get is my TV screen. It’s not the same without the congregation reciting prayers as a group and the joy one feels as we all praise God together in song.
Some believe they don’t need a church to worship God. They are missing out on so much. Church is not a building, but an extension of our family in faith. Faith is meant to be experienced and shared. That is how it grows.
We must not despair from the void of not being able to be together with our faith community over these coming weeks, but take this opportunity to come closer to Christ, who himself was alone during his final agony and suffering from the garden to his death on the cross.
The late Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I., stated, “The Risen Lord will never abandon his people. Those who find their personal identity in relation to him will never be alone.”
In Christ’s own words from the Gospel of Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.”
Many local churches are doing everything they can to remain connected to their parishes through the use of Facebook and YouTube including podcasts and livestreaming their Sunday services.
A few have chosen to hold drive-up services, as long as the weather is favorable.
Don’t forget to mail in your contribution. Just because parishioners are not in the pews each Sunday does not mean our churches don’t still have expenses.
It’s easy to find on the Internet those who believe this pandemic is a punishment from God for sin. I disagree. God does not wish us to suffer, but he wants us to grow closer to him in times of suffering and to learn from it.
The coronavirus, even with a very low death rate, has forced many of us to face our mortality. This can be scary. Although we all know that our time on this earth is finite, many refuse to face it.
We put it off with the assumption that we are not going to die today.
For anyone to live their life to the fullest they have to accept and prepare for their death.
Here is a start from Omar Ricci’s recent sermon at the Islamic Center of Southern California where he preached, “Thank God for this reminder that we are not in control and must always be dependent on God. Thank God for this reminder that we should be grateful for all things — for groceries, toilet paper, good health. Thank God for reminding us life is fragile, and we had best appreciate the miracle and blessing that God has given us in creating us as souls.”
Most of us alive today have only seen prosperity. We have not lived through two world wars or experienced the Great Depression.
We have had it too easy. Difficult times for us as individuals and a society as a whole can bring us closer to God.
We should allow this painful time to make our hearts grow with anticipation of the time we can meet once more with our faith communities. Just like the anticipation of a vacation or another important date.
And we must never again take for granted the simple act of sitting in a pew with our friends and family and worship as we choose.
Let us all pray that in this time of widespread illness, our merciful and loving Father will strengthen our faith and that we will trust in his goodness and divine provid