PARISH BLOG

Reflections and news from our Pastor and Youth Minister

to help you stay connected and go deeper in your faith.



This will certainly be a Holy Week that we remember for the rest of our lives. There is a lot of pain and sorrow in the fact that we will not be able to receive the Eucharist or gather as the Body of Christ in His house on Easter Sunday. I get it. I feel that, too. We are social beings, part of a universal Church that is intensely focused on the betterment of other people! I want to talk a little bit about what Holy Week really is, at its core, and how this one can be just as powerful (if not more so) than the traditional weeks we yearn for.


What do you usually do during Holy Week? A lot of families have traditions, things that they do together to commemorate Christ's passion and celebrate His resurrection. My family is no different! On Good Friday, we attend the Living Stations of the Cross at my home parish in Middletown. There's usually a light soup potluck afterwards, which is a big communal event for the parish. On Easter Sunday, we gather with family and do an Easter egg hunt in the backyard. I'd say about 50% of the time, we take the photos for our Christmas card when we're all dressed up for Easter!


None of that will happen this year. Sure, we will dress up to watch the livestreamed Easter mass, but there will be no Living Stations or family visits on Sunday. BUT (and this is a big but) Holy Week is not made or broken by traditions. Holy Week, at its most basic level, is about proclaiming and professing the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing will ever change that; not coronavirus, not war, not famine, NOTHING!


I don't think anyone would deny that we are suffering right now. That's pretty obvious. My question is this: is that worse for Holy Week? I would argue that, in a way, it's better. I've been watching a weekly broadcast called ProjectYM Live every Sunday night with the NGD youth group. This week they had Fr. Mike Schmitz on to speak about the Passion of Jesus. If you don't know Fr. Mike, you've gotta check him out on Youtube! He's a Catholic rock star.


Fr. Mike spoke about the Lord's Passion, but in a different way than we're used to. He spoke about the Shroud of Turin and the actual, physical wounds that Jesus received during His Passion. We hear the story so often, it can become sanitized for us. But the Passion was not sanitized, soft, or painless. It was horrible, painful, messy, and gruesome. Jesus was brutally and repeatedly hurt by a number of people.


Another tradition I have is watching the Passion of the Christ film on Good Friday at 3:00, the day and time we associate with Jesus' crucifixion and death. It really affects me, and I'll sometimes find myself crying when I see Jesus being whipped, scorned, and crucified. That's an emotion that is central to Holy Week: sorrow. We should absolutely feel sorrow. Our brother, friend, savior, and Lord suffered tremendously, and we should mourn that pain the same way we would for our best friend here on earth.


That should resonate right now. We are all feeling sorrow, in one way or another. We cannot gather to commemorate the Lord's Last Supper, or be present for Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, or even to physically commemorate His resurrection at mass at the Easter Vigil or on Sunday. But that sorrow is inherently tied to Holy Week. Yes, Jesus rose, and we will be joyful and praise Him when the time comes. But maybe now is the time to unite our sorrow and suffering with that of He who gave His life for us.


I'm sure we've all been told to "offer it up" at one time or another. There is no greater time to offer up our suffering than right now, and perhaps no greater suffering that we can offer than being separated from the Eucharist. And yes, it hurts to not be able to celebrate together on Easter Sunday. But here's the thing: Easter is not a day. Easter is a season.


Easter is not just Sunday, April 12th. Easter is a liturgical season that lasts for 55 days! That's right, folks, Easter is even longer than Lent itself. That means it will STILL be Easter all the way until May 31st. Now, I don't know if this quarantine will be lifted by then. I don't think anyone does; we have to have faith that God will restore the world to some sense of normalcy in His time, not ours. But whether we are able to be together by May 31st or not, Easter is not just this one day. It is a season of rejoicing and praise for the King of the Universe.


Even if we can't gather together, we can still praise Him. Let's unite our Holy Week suffering with His, and then let's make our lives a living testament to His love and mercy during the Easter season. And yes, it will be difficult. But Jesus never said following Him would be easy! In fact, He promised just the opposite. Yes, this Easter will absolutely be different. But let's embrace it.


Make sacrifices for those you're living with. Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet. Send a gift to a lonely friend. Call your grandmother. Start a prayer intention board. Do anything and everything you can to bring the resurrected Christ into your home and life during this time. He will notice, even if nobody else does. You will never regret calling on Him, and He will never let you down.


I wish you all a safe, blessed, and transformative Holy Week. May God bless you all!


Regis



How's everybody doing? Okay I hope? It's important to keep checking in on each other, especially those who live alone, during times like this. Make sure you give grandma a call! Seriously, though, we're on week 3 of this now, and there's plenty to be sick of! Leftovers, siblings, boredom, just about anything can annoy us at a time like this. But there's plenty of stuff out there talking about how tough this is. I want to spend some time talking about some stuff that is undeniably, irrefutably, 100% awesome.


Did you catch this Sunday's Gospel? Sure, we can't physically go to mass right now, but that doesn't mean that God isn't around anymore! Fr. Romans and Fr. Federico are livestreaming mass at 1pm every Sunday during this time, and there are literally thousands of streamed masses happening every day around the world. That's one thing I want us to recognize and be grateful for: the extraordinary, revolutionary ministry of our clergy during these tough times.


I have been absolutely blown away by those whom God has chosen for the priesthood throughout all of this. Think about it, this cannot be an easy time to be a priest! How would you feel if you devoted your entire life to bringing people to Christ and the Sacraments and were then told that people wouldn't be around for over a month? That is incredibly difficult! But let's take a look at what some of the world's priests have been up to.


Touching on livestream masses, I personally know many priests who have had to quickly acclimate to technology that they've never used before to share in the mass with their flocks. I've also seen multiple priests and bishops get involved with ProjectYM, a weekly virtual youth group night that's drawn over 10,000 viewers. How amazing it is that our priests, some of them over 70, are working so hard to engage with the young Church and let them know they are not forgotten!


Finally, we have to touch on Pope Francis. If you have not yet seen the video of his Urbi et Orbi blessing from this past Friday, you should. There are few images that have touched me more during this crisis than that of an 83 year old man with sciatica standing in the rain blessing the entire Catholic Church with the Eucharist and kissing the feet of a miraculous Crucifix. Unbelievably powerful. Make sure you pray for our priests during this time. They need our prayers as much as anyone else!


If you did happen to catch a livestream mass this Sunday, or even just read the Gospel for yourself, you'll know that we heard the story of Lazarus. Man, was this timely or what? Gotta love those moments where God tells you exactly what you need to hear. If you remember back, the people are initially resistant to rolling away the stone from Lazarus' tomb. Why? "'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.'" In other words, tombs stink.


One could argue that we're in our own type of tomb right now, stuck inside with limited trips into the wide world. And you know what? It kind of stinks! My good friend, Fr. Erik Lenhart, mentioned something else that stinks in his homily this weekend: fertilizer. Fertilizer is messy, ugly, and smelly, but it brings about new life...just like the tomb of Lazarus.


When Lazarus died and Jesus wept for His friend, many people wondered why He hadn't simply spared Lazarus from death. After all, if Jesus was the Messiah as He claimed, couldn't He have stopped it from happening in the first place? The answer, of course, is yes. Jesus could have stopped Lazarus from dying. However, he chose to allow Lazarus' death so that He could raise him and show the world that He is the Son of God.


The tomb, the fertilizer, and our situation. They all stink! But God uses all things, even the stinky, for good. He is using this craziness for good. I don't know exactly how, but that's because I'm not God. We should take comfort in the fact that He knows why this is happening and the new life that's waiting on the other side of it. Let's look to that. Let's yearn for that. And let's embrace and appreciate it when it gets here.


One final thought before I go: the news can be SUPER scary and anxiety-inducing right now. America's sweetheart, John Krasinski (better known as Jim Halpert from The Office), has started a fantastic Youtube news program called Some Good News that only covers the good news happening right now. If you're down, need a pick-me-up, or just want to smile, check it out. You won't regret it!


Keep praying, keep trusting the Lord, and keep washing those hands. We'll get through this together.


God Bless you all,


Regis


Some Good News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5pgG1M_h_U

ProjectYM Live: https://live.projectym.com/

Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi blessing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvE1ncKned8

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


To say the last ten days have been weird is an understatement. Since the announcement of the suspension of public Masses on Monday, March 16th, life around here has been weird, strange, awkward at times, confusing, and sad. So much of what we do involves people, and well, they are not around.


The school is eerily empty, the majority of our parish staff is working from home except those deemed essential by the Archdiocese (I always think ALL our staff are essential but I get the need for such a determination), and it is just so strange around here. Even Fenway is wondering where everybody is. He is probably bored just hanging out with Father Federico and me.


The emptiness and quiet in fact causes in me a feeling of being uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong: a little quiet time in life is fine! We can actually all try to see these days as a retreat in the truest sense of the word, namely, a withdrawal to a quiet or secluded place. We can use this time to catch up with friends via the telephone or some sort of social media. We can reach out to family members we haven’t spoken with to check-in on them. We can use this time to do some spiritual reading! Dust off those Bibles, pick up the book we gave at Christmas Rediscover the Saints, or pick up that other book you have been procrastinating from reading.


I would be lying if I didn’t say I am sad and that I have a feeling of a sense of loss. Especially as the announcement was made this week that the Archdiocese has extended the cancellation of ALL Public Masses until April 30th! NO Masses for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, OR EASTER! If you were to tell me when I was ordained that we would one day close our churches for an extended period of time to fight a virus, I would have thought you were nuts. We never missed Mass growing up as a family, and I certainly could never have envisioned such a closure as being remotely possible, never mind necessary. Yet here we are!


Please know that while we cannot gather together in prayer in the church building, you can come by to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Bridget Church building is, once again, for now open every day from 10AM until 12Noon. Thank you to all those who donated more disinfectant chemicals to enable us to remain open. Yes, these are limited hours but they need to be to ensure proper disinfecting of visited areas. PLEASE NOTE…you are asked to enter and exit through the South Entrance of the Church building and you are asked to remain in that Side Chapel at this time. IF you wish to light a candle before the Blessed Mother Statue PLEASE bring your own lighter! If you come, please be sure to remain socially distant from any other parishioners who may be there praying at the same time.


During this time it is our hope to remain “connected” with you. Father Federico and I are attempting to stay “connected” with our parishioners to the best of our abilities by using the media tools we have available to us. See page 6 & 7 for details.


Parish App…If you haven’t signed up for the Parish App yet please do so NOW! It is a phenomenal source of information for the life and activity of our parish family and it offers resources helping us to grow in our faith as well. We are using this as another way to reach out to our parishioners during this time and to share information as it becomes available. Details on how to get the App are on page 7.


The Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish Website…www.stbridgetcheshire.org. This is the main source of communication for our Parish Family! I am so grateful to our Office Staff who work so hard to keep the website up-to-date and a resource for our parish family. Victoria has made it easy for those not on Facebook to see our LIVE posts each day. Scroll to the bottom of the website homepage and click on the @stbridgetofswedenparish link which is just below the words “Live at 1PM Every Day.”

Zoom, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Skype, FreeConferenceUberConference, Facetime, and Facebook Live…a few weeks ago many of these resources were hardly a mention to the majority of us in our day-to-day life, and now we cannot go a day without them! Even the Archdiocese held a Zoom Meeting for all Pastors this past week. The faculty of St. Bridget School gather each morning via Zoom now (at first we used Google Meet) for morning prayer together before they head off to their “new classrooms” to begin their daily instruction of our students. It is amazing to see what is happening with the tools of today being utilized to best meet our daily needs to communicate and continue moving forward whether it is the parish, the school, or just to see friends!


One of my hopes these days is that during this time when we are not being able to come together to celebrate the Eucharist in our churches, a stronger desire, respect, and yearning will develop in our hearts for the gift of the Eucharist! One of my friends on Facetime Wednesday night said to me, “I need the Eucharist at least once a week like I need my coffee in the morning, like my medications, like water.” She went on to tell me how difficult this has been for her. It has only been one weekend since her diocese cancelled public Masses, like here, but she is yearning for the Lord. She also shared that she is joining us, as often as possible, for our 1PM LIVE posts but it is just not the same as receiving the Eucharist.


I suggested to her that while the Eucharist is the clearest place to encounter Jesus and receive His Body, it is not the only place. Open the Scriptures and encounter Jesus in His Word. A side note here…many Catholic publishers like Give Us This Day and Magnificat are providing free access to their materials during the duration of this crisis if you are interested. I also suggested to her that in this time, she is still in Lent too, and that her acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving will not go unknown. We then spoke about Matthew 25 and the great words of Jesus “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Then we discussed some ways she can fulfill this call in her area without leaving her home!


This Lent, we are being forced into a strange sort of fasting from the body of Christ in our assemblies and in the Eucharist. We might notice the hunger, the absence that comes from this fast, as my friend did, so as to appreciate it yet more deeply when, in Easter joy, we are able to receive the body of Christ in these ways again.


Fasting now may help us appreciate Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and in the assemblies that celebrate it more clearly after this too has passed. It may not happen on the “official” date of Easter, but the lesson of the rhythms of our church is that Easter joy and feast follows Lenten sacrifice and fast.


Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Today Jesus confronts a terrible reality - death, the death of a friend named Lazarus. The prophet Isaiah says death is "the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations." (25:7) Do we fear death? I don't sense that most people do. I think C.S. Lewis got it right. He used this quote: "I am not so much afraid of death as ashamed of it." We feel a disgust for death. We can see that shame or repulsion in our response to the coronavirus. The people of our country and most nations are making extraordinary sacrifices to prevent the death of others. The repugnance for death has caused people to adopt an "abundance of caution". Otherwise, we are told, a person could be responsible for someone else's sickness and death.


Jesus himself felt strong emotions in the face of death. When he stood before the grave of his friend, Lazarus, he wept. When his own horrific death approached, he begged the Father to take that chalice from him. Jesus fought against death by curing people who suffered grave illness. The Gospels also record three instances of Jesus bringing the dead back to life. He did it as a sign of greater things to come.


First and foremost, Jesus wants to rescue us from spiritual death. Bishop Barron writes that each of us "to a degree, is spiritually dead. Maybe you're like Lazarus - four days in your tomb. Maybe you feel there is just no hope for the likes of you…I don't care how dead you are. The voice of Jesus can pull you out of the tomb."


Yes, Jesus wants to rescue us from spiritual death. But he wants something more. What finally matters is your relationship to him. As he tells Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." Jesus tells us that true life, eternal life, is nothing more and nothing less than a personal relationship to him. Isn’t now a great time to strengthen that relationship?


As I said last week, I would be remiss if, as your Pastor, I didn’t remind you that we NEED YOUR HELP! I am talking about something no priest likes to bring up, especially in a time of facing a pandemic, but we need your financial support! What weighs heavy on my mind these days is how are we going to make ends meet if this time of closure is a longer than expected period of time? How can we pay the bills without the weekend collection?


There are still bills to be paid I assure you—lights, gas, payroll, insurance, etc.—so I beg every family to support your Parish Family during this time. Please see page 4 for ways you can give to your Parish. Thank you to the many who sent in their envelopes these past few days. Your generosity makes a real difference!


Please find in the pages of this bulletin activities, prayers, and suggestions for you and your family during this time of unrest. I have asked the Pastoral Staff to offer you materials to assist you in growing together in faith. I hope you find these resources helpful. In this time without the usual rush to places to be and things to do, read together, pray together, and grow together in faith, hope, and love!


FINALLY, PLEASE BE SURE TO PRAY! Utilize this time, as individuals and as families, to pray for an end to the spreading of Coronavirus.


As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic. With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, may we be united with one another in prayer!




ABOUT US

Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish is a Catholic community in the heart of Cheshire. Together we can discover your path to a deeper, more fulfilling spiritual life.

Saturday Vigil Masses:

4PM St. Bridget Church

5PM St. Thomas Becket Church

Sunday Masses:

7:30AM St. Bridget Church

9AM St. Bridget Church

10AM St. Thomas Becket Church

11AM St. Bridget Church

Confession: Saturday 3PM St. Bridget Church

ADDRESS

203-272-3531

 

Parish Office

175 Main Street

Cheshire, CT 06410

North Campus

St. Bridget Church

175 Main Street 

Cheshire, CT 06410

South Campus

St. Thomas Becket Church

435 North Brooksvale Road

Cheshire, CT 06410

 

rectory@stbridgetcheshire.org

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