My Dear Ones in Christ,
I return to writing you today after taking last week off for a bit of a stay-cation. As with most stay-at-home vacations, there was plenty to keep me busy. Still, it was good for me to be away from the office for a while, get caught up on some long-delayed reading, and do some around-the-house projects. I may POSSIBLY try to take some more time away after Christmas.
I hope that, in spite of everything being so topsy-turvy this year, that you enjoyed a pleasant Thanksgiving. I had never fixed an entire Thanksgiving dinner on my own before, so this year I entered the fray and cooked up a storm for both Fr. Marty and me. I cooked – he cleaned up! No, I’m not a messy cook, and I try to clean up as I go. Nevertheless, there were still things to wash by hand since some things just don’t do well in the dishwasher. Before dinner, we took time to have FaceTime with our families – Fr. Marty’s in Chicago and mine in Colorado Springs. It was a good “second best” to be able to have that time with them.
Because the Covid-19 situation continues to keep things so fluid, I can’t tell you what our Christmas schedule will be here at Cabrini. I have visited with Fr. Marty and the office staff about trying to have at least a working plan, but at the same time we realize that whatever we plan can change very suddenly. So, as of right now, we are planning to follow our regular model for how we celebrate each weekend as our model for Christmas. The plan is for me to have a private Mass on Christmas Eve (Thursday, December 24) followed by a drive-through reception of Holy Communion at 5:00 p.m. Fr. Marty will celebrate Christmas Day Masses at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in the church. Please, please remember that we are limited to a maximum of 70 people being allowed in the church at a time. Therefore, I must ask that for those who will plan on celebrating one of the two Masses to please not invite family members from outside your own home to celebrate with you this year. I know that is a difficult decision, but these are somewhat difficult times requiring us to make difficult decision for the higher good. Again, this is a very fluid plan, and it can change with very little notice. This requires that we stay flexible and open to whatever changes may come our way.
I will be participating in a Zoom meeting this afternoon with Bishop Weisenburger and the other priests of our vicariate. Bishop said in his email that there really isn’t any agenda to the meeting; he just wants to “see” us, hear how we’re doing and how things are going in our parishes. I have no doubt that Christmas will be a topic that somebody will bring up. Bishop told all the pastors in a recent communication that he will be meeting with his Covid-19 Committee sometime before the 3rd Sunday of Advent just to see where things stand in the Diocese and in Arizona overall. If anything comes out of today’s meeting that directly affects our parish, I will get the word out to all of you via email as quickly as possible.
I’m so proud of the great faithfulness that so many of you show not only in and to your faith, but in your ongoing support of our parish. It lifts my heart more than you can even imagine when I come out the door on Saturday afternoons to communicate the Eucharist to you, and I see all your cars lined up as you come here to receive it. I love having a little word with each of you and try to just check in to see how you’re doing. I’m finding that I can tell an awful lot about you just by your eyes! I ask Fr. Marty after each Sunday Mass how many people were there and how they seem to be doing. As with every other parish, we’ve seen a decrease in the number of people coming here for Mass. The drive-through is still the best attended celebration thus far. Again, your faithfulness is shining through in spite of difficulties and inconveniences. That is why our second reading this weekend has spoken so loudly to my heart. The entire reading is from Second Peter 3:8-14, but verses 11-12a are the ones which have arrested my attention:
“Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, awaiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God .…”
Indeed, in such confusing, troubling times, what sort of persons ought we to be? In our daily lives, what sort of persons ought we to be? In our communication with family and friends, what sort of persons ought we to be? In our spiritual lives, what sort of persons ought we to be? When we have to go to the store, what sort of persons ought we to be? In all of these areas, am I conducting myself in holiness and devotion, as Peter wrote, or am I contributing to unrest, anger, confusion and a myriad other negative attitudes which do not speak well of a Christian life? Do you see why your faithfulness and positive attitude in these times becomes even more important? Your attitude and spirit are contagious. If you are projecting a positive, sincere, joyful and holy spirit, others will catch it and will be affected in a positive way by it. So, my encouragement for you today is for you not to grow weary in the beautiful ways you can and are living your faith, but, both in private and in public, strive to use the strength God supplies each day to be the person God is calling you to be.
I am blessed by God through you. Please accept the words of God’s blessing upon His people through the high priests of Israel as your blessing from Him today, “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”