Greetings of Christ’s peace and love!
It has been a week since I decided to suspend all public celebrations of the Holy Mass, other sacraments and Church gatherings or events, as well as the closure of our school buildings and offices throughout the diocese in compliance with the directives from the government. It was a very painful and difficult decision, but thank you for your understanding.
Very sadly, the situation has gotten worse. Some states are on lockdown, business establishments and other public places of gathering were ordered to close and people are being told to stay home. In recent days we have become familiar with the terms “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” as government authorities urge everyone to do our part in containing the further transmission of the coronavirus disease. Yet the number of those infected and who have died continues to rise, and our dedicated health care workers on the front line are working overtime.
Our unity and solidarity is critical at this time. We can draw inspiration and strength from parishioners, who have demonstrated great resilience and willingness to care for one another by following diocesan directives, even though difficult and painful. Our priests also faithfully continue their commitment to accompany the people of God during these difficult times as shepherds of our fl ocks, attending to their spiritual nourishment and care. We continue our struggle to take cautionary measures and adapt to a diff erent lifestyle, and we have progressed prayerfully and judiciously.
The people of God need to experience the presence of God in the midst of all this. Even though we do not have public celebration of the Mass, our churches remain open to manifest God’s loving and saving presence with us. Our priests also continue to off er the Holy Mass daily and on Sunday, livestreamed through the Internet on social media. In other words, God has not abandoned you, and you are not alone. God continues to take care of us. He accompanies us through our priests, who lead and guide us closer to God in their ministry and through prayer, even in our time of isolation.
I commit to communicate with you regularly to let you know how we as one church can work together to address this crisis. Understanding the situation and impacts of COVID-19 are ever-changing, I want to share with you some diocesan directives and recommendations so we can overcome this diffi cult times not individually, but as a faith community; not with panic and fear, but with hope and faith in the goodness and love of God. Please check for the schedule of the coming Holy Week, Triduum and Easter services that will be done without the presence of the congregation, but will be livestreamed from the Cathedral of the Madeleine and at our local parishes.
Thank you for your understanding, cooperation and support as we navigate the unknown, placing our trust fi rmly in the hands of our Lord. Let us be constant and persistent in prayer and help each other, especially the health care workers, those infected by the disease, and those at greatest risk – with severe illness, the indigent, elderly and immunocompromised, and to keep in prayer those who have died.
Never doubt the love of God for us. “Hope in the Lord, trust in his word, in him is kindness and plenteous of redemption.” (Ps 130:7) Please know of my prayers for you, as I ask yours for me and all our priests.
Lenten Blessings to everyone!