31 March 2020 – Fifth Week of Lent

My Dear Parish Family,

We all know how hard it has been to live our lives the way we are being asked to live them. Now, hearing that we will have to be social distancing for at least the rest of April, so many thoughts and concerns can run through our heads. It is even hard to imagine how we can celebrate Easter in two weeks, when it seems the sacrifices of Lent won’t leave us during the great 50 days of Easter. Yet, still WE ARE a people who live in the promise of The Resurrection. Are we not the very people who have been Baptized into the sacrificial life of Jesus Christ? Since the time His watery Cross was poured over our heads, hasn’t there always been more than what we see before us?

Even though I look at empty pews, my heart is filled with more than just memories of where your pew used to be. In fact, I am drawn deeper into the awareness of you— longing for the day when we can be back together in the same space and in your usual pew. I know, I know, the space shouldn’t matter if we are spiritually united…blah, blah, blah….(whoops did I just type that out loud or did I just think that?). What I mean is there is nothing wrong with appreciating the spiritual communion, but let’s admit that what we really need is both the spiritual and the physical to be fully in communion. Isn’t this exactly what we are to long for regarding Jesus Christ in His Holy Eucharist? His fullness of Communion? Yes, receiving His Body and Blood/Soul and Divinity at the very Holy Sacrifice of the Mass you are missing, but knowing it is not His fullness until we are one with Him in Glory.

Because of the times in which we are living, most Catholics are only able to enter into a spiritual communion (especially when watching the televised Mass). What does this mean? We all know that the best way to receive Christ is in Holy Communion at Mass. Yet, for times that you cannot make Mass, you can still reach out to Him by making a Spiritual Communion in prayer! You just need to approach Him with sincerity, humility and a desire to follow in His footsteps in acts of faith and charity. Do you realize how much Jesus delights in being one with you? The Baltimore Catechism notes that a spiritual communion “is an act of devotion, and one very pleasing to God.” Countless saints and theologians throughout the centuries have extolled the virtues and great spiritual benefits we can receive from this time spent with our Lord.

In the 13th century Saint Thomas Aquinas once defined a spiritual communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament [in Communion at Mass] and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.” Saint Alphonsus Ligouri composed a prayer in the 18th century at a time when people were not able to receive Holy Communion regularly. Perhaps you can learn it and use it everyday:

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.” One of our parish’s patrons for priesthood vocations is Saint Jean- Baptiste-Marie Vianney, the Cur d’Ars in the 19th century once said, “when we feel the love of God growing cold, let us instantly make a Spiritual Communion. When we cannot go to the church, let us turn towards the tabernacle; no wall can shut us out from the good God.” No matter what pandemic or protocol is written, no wall has actually shut you out from the good God!

Have you noticed, that in spite of all this distancing, our prayer and our faith in Jesus Christ has truly joined us more spiritually together. I have witnessed it in the outreach and compassion of so many who are taking care of people they have never reached out to before. This time of social separation has not created a silence of mercy or a decrease of prayer. What at first seemed like a weapon of the enemy intended to keep us from being one with each other, has been a fodder for unity and care our world hasn’t seen in this generation. Even at the Altar of the Lord, we are drawn spiritually and communally together in ways I have never experienced. Thousands are being a part of our websites (www.stfparish.com, www.stfparishschool.org) and nothing has shut us out from our good God or each other.

I am hoping that your schedule can allow for us to join together in another way to help us remain connected. Would you be willing to set your schedule to offer a communal prayer everyday? Please commit to praying The Angelus at least one of the three usual prayer times when the Church bells toll: 6:00a, 12:00p, or 6:00p. You can research more about the prayer itself (www.theangelusprayer.com), but for the time being the prayer is attached. Praying we are always one in the Lord!

Pax, Fr. Bline

The Angelus Prayer

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the Handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary…

V. And the Word was made flesh
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary…

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

Let us pray:  Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.  Through the same Christ, Our Lord. Amen.