A message from Fr. Bline- March 20, 2020

The Week After...

My sister, Deanna, was just a toddler and I was looking forward to starting school. Then this disease entered into our lives, the dreaded mumps. We heard from our older siblings how bad this could be...swelling and pain in the throat so bad we couldn’t eat Captain Crunch because it would be too scratchy or drink Tang because it would just burn. Our big sisters told us we’d be too tired and sore all over with a fever so we couldn’t run and play and would just have to stay locked in our rooms. Wow...this could be bad. Then we got it! Since I was so young, I don’t really remember much except for how I felt. Trapped. Frustrated. Sad. Scared (a lot like we have all been feeling lately). The only thing that seemed to help was when my Mom would put the new 12” B&W TV on for us to watch as we laid upon the couch. The only thing that made it worse was when she left the room to take care of the baby, Kathaleen, and left the TV show Outer Limits on for us to watch. Now why would any 27 year old mother make two little children watch the episode called “The Keeper of the Purple Twilight” (about an alien who offers his intelligence in exchange for a human’s emotions and leaves the human without any emotions and with a disintegration weapon in his hands)? Because she was preoccupied by two "mumped" children, a new born baby, and a 5, 6, & 7 year old running around. Plus, in those days, she swears moms didn’t even know what to turn on just so long as it kept the kids quiet.

Anyway, this past week I feel like I’ve been laying on the couch wondering how bad all this can get...like I’m watching another Outer Limits episode that I can’t grasp or want to see. Is this really happening? Yes it is. We are all trying to figure out how to be “cautious and not paranoid.” We know we can only binge watch so many episodic television shows or Disney flicks with the kids. We know we still need to somehow live a normal life right now. So let’s live it. How have you been balancing it all...the fears, the feelings that things can’t really be that bad, the concerns about bills being paid and income being slashed, and how can we spend this much time together in the house or survive living all alone?

Our parish life and school doesn’t feel the same way. The parking lot is empty and the playground doesn’t have any giggles and playful screaming going on. Still, so many have risen up to make a difference in such a short time. With Mrs. Dougherty at the helm with Mrs. Goshe, Mrs. Lloyd and Mrs Ivey, our dedicated teachers and staff have been inspirational while trying to reinvent how education can be sustained and integral even at home with parents who never intended to be home-school teachers. Keep praying for our parents and families to be given wisdom and discernment and patience. Deacon Herrick, Deacon Butz, Fr. Bearer and I so much appreciate your prayers and kindnesses. Please remember to keep close in prayer Therese and Chrissie for somehow maintaining the office demands (while Ann, Susan, Sally aren’t able to come in yet). Prayers of thanksgiving for Kathleen Ott for still taking care of the catechetical needs for us, and now helping with communication and outreach initiatives. Pray for protection for Dennis Ott and our parish maintenance/grounds crew who are entering into unchartered territories. A special blessing for Colleen McVicker and music ministry, art and environment committee, and all our liturgical ministers (servers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, ushers, greeters, Church Mice cleaners, money counters) who are unable to give in the ways they’ve been called. Continued desires upon our Youth Group and teens who work with Shirley Clark and her adult team of leaders, since they are unable to meet up. Thanks, too, for Saint Vincent de Paul Society for their endless work care.

When it comes to our beloved Catholic faith, how do we maintain and strengthen who we are as Roman Catholics, when we are not celebrating the Sacraments in our day to day life? It seems like everything we have tried to instill in the hearts of the Baptized is being challenged or made impossible for now. Usually, at Lent, we preach of the necessity of coming to Mass and belonging to the 40 Day Club...now hardly anyone can do anything more than watch the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on a 12” B&W. We added extra days and hours to cover Eucharistic Adoration. Now we don’t know how we even have the chance to do it because (with a few exceptions) most places are limited or have had to stop Adoration for the time being. Yes, we will most certainly have it all back...but when?

I struggle over what to offer you as something meaningful considering what we have now. Yet, I want to be obedient to what is being asked by those in authority. How do I share my love as a Priest when I have a private Mass without a church full of people, or can’t be guaranteed that I can even anoint someone who is sick or dying because of protocols set forth to protect from the contagion. When it comes to funerals or Baptisms, we can’t have more than ten people...how does this happen? And do you know how many RCIA people are longing to come into the Church at the Easter Vigil (which we can’t do in a public way now)? Have you seen the eyes of our kids who are longing to be sealed in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, or those wanting to hear they will still receive their First Holy Communion? I hope the scheduled dates will happen, but we still do not know.

Why do I bring all this up? I say this not to bring fear or worries, but to speak the truth and shame the devil. We can’t even see each other outside of FaceTime and video chats, but we are somehow more drawn to each other than ever before. We need to be prudent and still praise God. We can still find ways of private devotions (Rosary, Stations of the Cross, spiritual communions, Chants and Christian music) and most importantly praying with the Scripture. These will be the manna for us while we hunger in the desert. Thankfully, we have devoted souls who have been volunteering to clean our place and give of their expertise to reach out to others. I am grateful for support from our Parish Pastoral Council and volunteers who are working on our website with information, videos and websites for prayer opportunities. Because of your continued sacrifices, we are even able to pay our bills for March. Because of who we are in the love of Jesus Christ, people are finding ways to connect with and take care of each other in such beautiful and sacrificial ways. This year, Lent means more to us than ever before: prayer, fasting and giving of ourselves is a whole new way of life for us now. Thank you for your prayers and understanding hearts. We are a people of The Resurrection and we will most certainly rise from this.

Miss You Already... Pax, Fr. Bline

4019 Manchester Road
Akron, OH 44319
Ph: 330.644.2225
Email: ParishOffice@stfparish.com
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