My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Because many of you may have heard or read yesterday’s news that Gov. Ducey has lifted the enforcement of all COVID-19 restrictions, Bishop Weisenburger believed it to be prudent to issue his own statement on this issue. In an email distributed to all the pastors of the Diocese yesterday afternoon, our Bishop, after stating all that the governor’s order entailed, made the follow statement, “Based on the above [order of the governor’s], at this time there will be no change in our Diocesan protocols. Before a decision is made to further reduce our protocols, my advisors and I believe it is prudent for us to monitor the current environment, especially as it relates to vaccinations and herd immunity. When we have achieved a state of herd immunity, we then will be able to move forward to fully reopen.”
What does the above mean for St. Frances Cabrini Parish? Simply put, it means we’ll see no change to the way in which we have been responding to the ways our liturgies are celebrated here. We will continue to insist that those who are able and qualified to attend public worship wear masks throughout the entire celebration, maintain social distancing of at least six feet between people not of the same household, and make frequent use of hand sanitization. It also means that communion will continue to be distributed after the Mass, in the hand, and out of doors on the west patio. Of course, this also means that the collection baskets will continue to be at the two west-side doors of the church to receive your monetary offerings. I have committed myself to communicating with you as quickly as possible in these matters, and I hope that you are finding this form of communication both effective and helpful.
This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. I shared the entire schedule with you in last week’s email, so I won’t repeat it this week. Also, Eileen Godollei, our volunteer receptionist, has put the entire schedule on our office voicemail. Our office will be completely closed next week from Thursday noon until the following Monday morning. Also, due to the solemnity of those days, I will not be writing an email to the parish next week.
Due to the restrictions which we must observe throughout our celebrations of Holy Week, we cannot have any processions, and we are to use what is called “The Third Form” for the celebrations. For this Sunday, that means no First Gospel with a procession of palms following, and it entails the “simple entrance” which Fr. Marty has been using at the beginning of each Mass. It also means that the “short form” of the Gospel will be read. I’m giving you that great big, long explanation because, for my own edification, I have been reflecting upon a part of our Gospel reading that won’t be included in this Sunday’s proclamation. I would invite you to read the whole thing on your own; it’s Mark 14:1 – 15:47. The portion I’ve been thinking of has been a source of great encouragement to me. We read that while Jesus was in Bethany, in the home of Simon the leper, that:
“. . . a woman came in with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard.”
We know the rest of the account, of how she broke the alabaster jar and poured that richly fragrant oil out upon his head. Some of the others who were in Simon’s home with Jesus immediately found fault with the woman’s sacrifice of love and looked upon it as a complete waste. In fact, the reading describes their attitudes as “indignant” and “infuriated.” Nice attitudes, huh? I have been deeply touched and encouraged by Jesus’s intervention and defense of the woman. “Let her alone,” he says. “She has done a good thing for me. She has done what she could.” Jesus recognized that she was giving the very best she could to the One whom she had come to love so much. Oftentimes, especially when I hear people’s confessions, I hear them really beat up on themselves over what they wish they could have done better or what more they could have done in certain situations. I love to just gently ask them, “Did you do your best at the time and given the circumstances of the situation?” In other words, did they do what they could? I remember a time when I was studying Spanish. My teacher had been drilling me on vocabulary and verb conjugations all morning long, and finally I just couldn’t do it anymore. My brain was numb, and I just could not concentrate any longer. In my frustration and, yes, my disappointment in myself, I told my teacher I just couldn’t go on. He was a very kindly older gentleman, and he just simply said, “Jay, you’ve done your best. God doesn’t expect any more out of angels or mules.” I did my best. I did what I could. In my service to the Lord, I wonder if I, far too often, compare myself to what others do rather than what, in all honesty, I am able and capable of doing. Nobody can love the Lord with the same love that I have for Him; that’s my gift and my gift alone. So, my service to Him is unique also, and nobody can render it to Him in the same way that I am able or capable of doing. I do what I can, and I try to make what I do and what I am be the very best, just like that unnamed woman did.
Please accept these few lines for today along with my prayers that yours will be a deeply enriching Holy Week. I look forward to being back online with you in a couple of weeks.
With deepest brotherly love in Christ,