Dear Ones in Christ,
There is a lot of ground to cover in today’s email, so I’m just going to get right to it.
This Sunday we will celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Lent, and then on March 27/28 we will begin our Holy Week celebrations. Do you remember that last year our celebrations were suspended due to the surging Covid-19 pandemic, and we weren’t able to gather for our traditional holy days? It’s a joy to think that this year, even with limited participation by the faithful, we will be able to observe these most sacred days. Please remember that we cannot, yet, fully celebrate these festive times as we traditionally do. We can still only seat a maximum of 70 people in the church, and since some of the rites and rituals that we usually participate in involve touching, singing, sharing, etc., we will be restricted in how we will celebrate. It is my intention, with this email, to not only share the Holy Week schedule with you, but to briefly inform you ahead of time of some of the restrictions which we will be observing. Because we have been diligent in keeping true to the Covid-19 protocols which have been established by the CDC and our Bishop, we have come to a place in our parish history where we can rejoice in the way in which things seem to be opening up again for us to worship. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and expect that everything should immediately be returning to normal. Instead, let us meet this special season with both joy and patience and in the hope that continued faithfulness to what we’re being required to do will yield abundant spiritual fruit.
This weekend, we will have our regular 5:00 p.m. drive-through reception of Holy Communion on Saturday. On Sunday, we will celebrate the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses with Fr. Marty presiding and with Deacon Charlie able to return to ministry with us since he is now fully vaccinated.
3/28/21 – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. We will once again have the 5:00 p.m. drive-through reception of Holy Communion on Saturday, 3/27/21. On 3/28, Fr. Marty and Dcn. Charlie will celebrate the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. liturgies. No palms are to be blessed or distributed in any way to the public. The Third Form (the Simple Entrance) of the Mass will be used, with the Deacon reading the short version of the Passion. Holy Communion will be received outdoors in the west patio following the dismissal.
4/1/21 – Holy Thursday. 6:00 p.m. Fr. Jay will celebrate this liturgy with you. Following the clear directives of the Holy See: the washing of the feet is omitted. There will be no procession to a chapel of repose at the end of the liturgy. Holy Communion will be given outdoors to the faithful. No dismissal or blessing is given since the service continues with the Good Friday liturgy.
4/2/21 – Good Friday. 3:00 p.m. Fr. Marty and Dcn. Charlie will celebrate this liturgy with you. The Passion will be proclaimed, followed by the homily, which will be followed by the eleven Solemn Intercessions. The Showing and Adoration of the Cross will take place. However, there cannot be a procession of the faithful to adore the cross. Instead, the Cross will be elevated by the priest from in front of the altar for the faithful to adore it in silence from their pews. Following the Prayer after Communion and the blessing over the people, all will depart the church in silence to receive Holy Communion on the west patio.
4/3/21 – Easter Vigil. 7:00 p.m. Fr. Jay and Dcn. Charlie will celebrate this liturgy with you. Since we have no candidates for full communion with the Church, nor do we have any Elect who have been preparing to enter the Church on this day, our celebration will, in some ways, feel like a Sunday celebration. The Paschal Candle will have been previously blessed and will be lit at the beginning of the Mass followed by the Exultet, which will be spoken by the priest. We will renew our baptismal promises during this celebration, but, based upon a decision by the Holy See, there will be no Sprinkling Rite. Once again, reception of Holy Communion will take place outdoors following the dismissal.
4/4/21 – EASTER Sunday! 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Fr. Marty and Dcn. Charlie will celebrate both of these Masses with you. The Mass will pretty much follow the pattern of the Vigil Mass described above. Due to the rubrics which govern the celebration of the Triduum Celebrations, they can only be celebrated once. The very nature of each one makes it impossible to have the liturgy with a drive-through reception of Holy Communion following it. However, there can be more than one Easter Sunday celebration. For those of you who cannot attend or who choose not to attend an in-person celebration of the Mass, I will have a drive-through reception of Holy Communion on Easter Sunday at 12:00 noon. We will follow our regular model for this celebration.
Once again, I must stress that for those who choose to attend the in-person celebrations of Holy Week in the church, you must be able to wear a face covering mask for the entire liturgy. We still must maintain social distancing between persons not of the same household, and the reception of Holy Communion will take place outside on the west patio following each of the liturgies.
Of course, I’m trying to make all of this as workable as possible for all of you. As we go forward, some of this could get tweaked a bit here and there. However, as of right now, this is our schedule for Holy Week. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you this year!
Just a little reflection from this week’s readings. Our second reading is from Hebrews 5:7-9. I was deeply touched by the last phrase of verse 7:
“… and he was heard because of his reverence.”
Jesus’s prayers were heard because of His reverence for His Father. “Reverence” is defined as profound adoring and awed respect. I’ve had to search my own heart to see if I hold our Heavenly Father in the same deep reverence with which Jesus held Him because I can now see so clearly that the only way that my own prayers will be heard depends upon that kind of reverence. Reverence is something that is so very lacking in our world today, isn’t it? I recently listened to a portion of an interview with a Muslim cleric who was asked his opinion of why there is so much violence and hatred in the world today. He responded by saying it was because people who commit such violent acts and are so filled with hatred have lost or forgotten their fear of God. That, to me, was the same as saying such people no longer have any reverence for God, and, therefore, they have no consciousness about their actions or attitudes. Indeed, they do not fear consequences, nor do they hold themselves personally responsible for the outcome of such actions and attitudes. They have no reverence for God. I believe the only way for us to maintain a proper and fruitful relationship with God is by following the example of His Son and allow our reverence for Him to deepen day by day.
This is probably the longest email that I’ve shared with all of you, but I hope you can see the reason for its length. I’m so very much looking forward to seeing many of you soon as we gently and patiently move towards that day when we’ll be able once again to gather without any restrictions to our community worshipping together.
With prayers and deepest love in Christ,