Message from Father Jay – April 17, 2020

Friday within the Octave of Easter

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I read once that as Christopher Columbus was sailing into the unknown on his way to the Americas that, as captain of his ship, he was required each day to make an entry in the captain’s log.  It seems that at one point there was nothing much to report. So, after making the required entries of the date and the nautical position of the ship he wrote, “We sail on.”

Today as I reach out to each of you again that is somewhat how I’m feeling.  I don’t have much really to report.  Connie, Eileen and I are doing the work required of us here in the office, but we are keeping ourselves totally “socially distanced” from each other as we go about our tasks.  My greatest joy is opening up my email inbox and finding such wonderful and encouraging emails from you, and I want to express again my deep joy in reading through them.  As a little spiritual exercise, I’ve decided to print out each one of your emails which I’m keeping in a kind of spiritual diary.  Every single one of them has been a message of encouragement, support and love, all because of what we share as Roman Catholic Christians whose lives are centered on the Resurrected Christ whom we continue to praise and adore in these holy days.  Again, thank you, thank you for your ongoing and deeply cherished communion in the Lord.  We sail on!

We hear every day about the realities of how this pandemic is affecting us not only here in the U.S. but throughout the entire world.  We hear about all the loss: the loss of jobs, the loss of income, the loss of security, and yes, the loss of life.  Those are deeply serious and troubling realities, and I do not in any way want to downplay any of them.  However, I’m also caused to reflect on another reality.  For us as Christian people I believe we need to counter the negative impact upon our spirits of those losses with the realization that there is so much that we have going for us.  My reflections over the last several days have been on these familiar and beloved words of St. Paul to the church in Corinth:

“So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13:13).

An older translation of the verse says, “And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”  My thoughts hinge on the words, “remain” and “abide.”  It’s speaking to my heart about even after other things may be taken away, what do we have left?  What stays with us?  And for the Christian, there they are:  faith, hope and love!  Have we allowed the present experience with all its fears, rumors, separation and distress to separate us from our faith in Christ, our hope for everlasting life and our love for all that He loves?  Or is this experience serving to deepen all three of these spiritual pillars in our lives?  I’m reminded also of Paul’s words to the Romans:

“What will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or the sword?  No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:36-39).

As was Paul, I too am convinced that as each day I re-consecrate myself to the One who has called me to be His servant and a member of His family, I will not be separated from those things that have an eternal impact upon my life.  I am convinced that as each of you make that same daily commitment to your calling in Christ, your hearts will be encouraged, your spirits lifted, and even in the midst of dark times the Light of Christ will continue to burn brightly in your hearts.  Sail on!!  The present experience isn’t with us to destroy us but to refine us and make us even more precious in God’s sight.  We’ve all come this far by faith, and now is not the time to weaken and give in to our fears. No! Sail on!!

I encourage you to check in each day to both our diocesan website  and our parish website  for up-to-date information.  It was a joy today to share in Bishop Kicanas’ morning Mass as it was streamed on the diocesan website.  He and Bp. Weisenburger have been so incredibly encouraging as they speak to our hearts during those wonderful celebrations.  We are blessed by the presence of such good and holy men.

Please accept these few thoughts today as once again I find my heart going out to each of you.  Be assured of my prayers for you.  Please remember me in your daily prayers as well.  Also, remember especially in prayer those who mourn the loss of loved ones due to the virus.  They stand in such need of our spiritual support.

We sail on!!

Fr. Jay