MID-WEEK FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
As we have hunkered down with our families during the “Stay-at-Home-Order” of our Governor, we’ve felt the pain of separation from other people who are important to us – and especially our parish. I am writing this “Mid-Week From the Pastor’s Corner” as one way of keeping us connected and to offer some additional thoughts and suggestions.
Over these past few weeks we have all felt a wide range of feelings – among them scared, confused, anxious, angry, lonely and guilty. I recall from my Engaged Encounter/Marriage Encounter days that we taught that feelings were spontaneous reactions to persons, places and things. And as spontaneous reactions, they were neither right nor wrong. They just are. But what we do with feelings makes them right or wrong. Adding guilt to our feelings is not a good way to deal with them. Nor is taking things out on those we live with. Nor is it to look back with the 20/20 vision we didn’t have at the moment and punish ourselves with regret. We can choose to acknowledge our feelings, share them with others either in person or on a check-in phone call with someone we trust, and deal with them. We can’t change those things in the past that prevented us from being the father/mother, son/daughter, friend that we wanted to be. All we have is the present. Take the opportunity to be present in the moment. Right now we can let go of our calendars and To-Do lists (they’re gone anyway). Take time to play with the kids, give our spouse a hug because we love them, call our sibling in Pennsylvania or that friend we’ve kept meaning to call. We can turn off the negative stuff and listen to those around us. There are lots of possibilities without the noise of normal life. Let’s grab at this opportunity to live in the moment – without guilt.
As we have lost our normal opportunities for prayer, this is also a good time to pray. For many of us, celebrating the Eucharist with our community is a major loss. As I write this, we are hoping to have a “live stream” of Mass from our church this Sunday at 10:00am (English) and 11:30am (Spanish). No promises, but things are looking good. We can also pray the daily Scripture readings and feel connected with the larger church. They can be found HERE. For some years now we have had a small group praying Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours after the 7:00am weekday Mass. I miss that group! But now as I pray Morning Prayer alone I pray for that group and feel connected. There is also Evening Prayer and the lesser Hours of the day. We are currently praying Week 4 of the Liturgy of the Hours. For those prayers check HERE. There is a link there to translate from Italian to English or Spanish. Another option is the Examen of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I usually write about this prayer form in my regular column during the summer around his feast day, July 31st. It is a simple 5-step prayer that focuses on noticing and being grateful for God’s gifts to us that day. Find it HERE. It has become one of my favorite prayer practices. Another suggestion is the traditional Rosary. For many of us, the familiar and repetitive prayers calm our heart and soul. If you have been part of the many groups that pray the Rosary at our parish, pray for those who were a part of your group.
An important way to step outside of ourselves is to pray for those who serve us in so many ways – first responders (EMT’s, police officers and fire fighters), health care workers (doctors, nurses, hospital staff, Immediate Care Centers staff), essential service workers, grocery store staff who work to keep the shelves stocked and those who process and deliver our food, those who are trying to keep their restaurants afloat with carry-out and curb-side services, mail carriers, delivery drivers, gas station attendants and many more. .
While we have previously made known links to “live stream” daily Masses, we just learned yesterday that the Diocese now has a “live stream” of daily Masses from the Cathedral in Joliet. Daily Masses at the Cathedral are offered at 9:00am celebrated by Father Burke Masters and Cathedral Parochial Vicar Father Ryan Adorjan HERE and at 11:30am celebrated by Bishop Richard Pates HERE. These opportunities to connect and pray together online is a good way to support each other during these trying times.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, CA and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops shares this prayer with the nation:
Prayer during a Pandemic
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and
Mother of the Americas, we fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother, and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones, the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted, we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing, teach all of us in the Church
to love one another and to be patient and kind. Help us to bring
the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence, knowing that you truly are
our compassionate mother, health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection, keep us in the embrace
of your arms, help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Let us continue to pray for each other. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy