My Dear Ones in Christ,
We celebrate the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend, and for the first time in what seems like a very long time I will be wearing green vestments during my private Mass. Green is the color representing life and the hope that comes with life, and while we must for a while longer endure our separation from immediate fellowship with each other, it shouldn’t mean that our Christian life is being negatively impacted. I have been so deeply moved by the emails from a number of you who have written about finding blessings in this experience. The blessings have come in the form of a renewed prayer life. They have come in being drawn back to the personal study of the Scriptures. Some have written about reading the readings for the up-coming weekend’s Mass and have shared how they have found spiritual sustenance in them. Blessings have come through reaching out to others over the phone, by writing emails to loved ones, and by writing little “snail mail” notes to friends who are close to our hearts. Blessings have even come by learning to rest in silence. All these blessings are signs of the “greening” of our spiritual selves, of the life that continues to surge within us, and I deeply believe these very blessings are what will keep us encouraged even in the face of what could be discouraging times.
I am deeply appreciating our Gospel reading for this weekend. Three times Jesus addresses “fear”. He says, “Fear no one.” Later he says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Finally, he says, “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Taken from Mt. 10:28-33. I’ll leave it up to you to read all of the rest on your own. Homework!) Fear vs. Blessings. Which one are we going to concentrate on today? Are we listening to the voice of discouragement, fear and perceived abandonment? That is never the voice of our loving Father. In the quiet of these times, could we instead get past our fears and realize anew how deep is the love of God for us, a love so profound that even in dark times it surrounds us, calms us, and reassures us that through all of this there is blessing because God is with His people still? KNOWING how deep God’s love is for us, KNOWING the calming effects of His love, KNOWING His reassurances day-by-day; these are signs of the greening of our spirit, of the life that is within. Fear vs. Blessings. It’s up to us today to decide which one we’ll choose.
Our Bishop has been so good to keep us as up-to-date as possible as the number of Covid 19-related cases and deaths increase in our state. He wrote this week, “This is not a time to lessen the protocols in our parishes, but to diligently protect each and every one of our brothers and sisters. I very strongly encourage all those in the CDC vulnerable categories [especially those age 65+ or with a chronic health condition] to remain at home and let the Church come to you via technology. Please remember that I have lifted the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.” While I see the necessity to continue to keep St. Frances Cabrini Parish closed for public worship, I encourage those of you with computers and televisions to, as the Bishop writes, “… let the Church come to you via technology.” Bishop Weisenburger live-streams Mass on the diocesan website every day. Every time I listen to him, I find solace and a satisfying portion of spiritual food. So, please make good use of these technologies which are available to us. Several people have written something similar to, “I’m glad we can spiritually attend a Mass on television or on a website, but it’s still not the same.” I know that. It’s not the “normal” way we do things, right? But, still, could we perhaps seek to find the blessing even in something that is a bit out of our comfort zone for the time being? I know we can do it.
So, I’ll end this with just a little ditty that was shared with me many years ago. It goes, “Count your blessings; name them, not one by one, but ton by ton!”
You are God’s blessing and gift to me!