Pastoral Message from your Shepherds under the Third Phase of the MCO

Frs

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

“Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)

Today we enter into the third phase of the MCO. We had expected the first phase to end on the 1st of April but that turned out to be wishful thinking. When it got extended for another two weeks, many of us grew sceptical that this would be the end of it and were already anticipating that this lockdown would stretch on for weeks and perhaps even months. As many had predicted, the MCO continues and we may see further extensions in the near future.

When will this end? I guess for many of us, this seems to be the only question which matters. Your children’s education has been disrupted; for the many who can’t make the adjustment to work from home, your work has come to a halt; the tension within your family dynamics may have increased; your fears about the uncertainties of the future are not unfounded; and finally your hunger for the Eucharist seems to grow more pronounced by the day. “When will this end?”

In all honesty, we do not have the answer. Neither do the scientists, the consultants, government leaders or other experts. No one seems to have any idea when and how this would end. No one at least this side of heaven. But God knows. And we say this not out of resignation, but in humble submission to His Providence and Wisdom.

This is the third message that we are writing to you because we feel that it is our duty to continue to encourage you, especially when it is so easy to give in to despair and just give up. This is the time to heed the call of St Paul, “Be vigilant, stay firm in the faith, be brave and strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Our churches may be closed and we may be confined to our homes because of social distancing, but that does not mean that faith and community life has come to an end. In fact, we believe that this social distancing has given opportunities to grow closer to the Lord and to each other spiritually. It has led us to pray more deeply and consistently for one another.

And so we as your priests continue to urge you to continue to do the following and as a community:

A) the daily chain recitation of the rosary;

B ) set aside a time for the BEC to reflect on the Word of God and share your reflexions with each other in your chat groups;

C) meditate on the daily readings for mass. We will continue to send you our daily reflexions and homilies;

D) call each other up to encourage each other;

E) continue to watch the live streamed masses.

G) commit yourself to your own personal faith formation. There are many online formation resources. This is a time to get serious about your faith.

H) Share stories and pictures of how you spent Holy Week as a family and how the family continues to pray together.

We thank all the generous donors for your contribution towards the costs of maintaining the parish and paying our staff. We are also grateful for the donations that have been coming in as aid to the poor and those financially affected by this lockdown. Many families have received food and cash aid and we continue to appeal to you for assistance, if it is within your means to do so.

Many of our catechism classes are now being conducted on-line. We have just restarted our RCIA sessions on-line. Our youth, because of their familiarity with technology and ability to adapt, have been continuing their meet-ups and ongoing formations. The daily rosaries at the BEC level has continued since we started. All this is encouraging. Our churches may be closed and we may be physically separated, but parish life continues.

Of course, we recognise the inherently imperfect nature of these efforts. We know that our everyday physical presence with each other far surpasses any virtual (online) initiatives we are forced to undertake for the short term. But we are grateful that technology has allowed us to stay together even though at a distance.

So, we return to our first question, “When will this all end?” The comforting words of St Teresa Avila may not be able to give us the answer we want, but it certainly can give us the answer we need to hear during these times :

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Your shepherds

Fr Michael and Fr Dominic

Wednesday within the Octave of Easter
15th April 2020