My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
WOW. As I type this Pastor’s Article it is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph and we are on day three of no public Masses, no meetings and activities, and no school. It feels so strange to be on this property 24 hours a day (except for the occasional grocery store visit) and not see so much going on that normally is. It is heartbreaking for me really.
This past Monday, after watching the morning news, I realized we were heading to this closure here in Connecticut. I even said to those who attended the 9AM Mass on Monday that it might be the last public Mass for some time. Later that morning I received this communication from the Archbishop (see inset below).
When I received this notice it stung. While I thought it was coming, to see it actually happen was sad and painful. In these unprecedented times, such a call seems to go against our inclinations. In a time of crisis, we turn to our faith. We preach that God is bigger than human fear! Think of all the historical moments of crisis, war, terrorism, health scares: the churches were flooded with people turning to their faith as the source of strength and comfort. People are anxious. People are in need of support. People are fearful. They need prayer and connection. And yet, as the experts have indicated, large group gatherings are a hotspot for the spread of disease. Despite our best efforts at limiting contact during the Mass, with the elimination of the exchange of the sign of peace, and the encouragement of all to receive Holy Communion in the hand, the best way, sadly, at this point, at this moment, is to keep people apart right now.
So while school is cancelled, family trips perhaps are cancelled, so many sporting events are cancelled, professional sports are on hold, what hits us the hardest is that public Mass is cancelled. As much as it hurts, cancelling Mass is the responsible, compassionate thing to do. Yes, some who are not sick are going to think “well I still could go to Mass”, but what if they are carrying something they don’t know they have yet and pass it on to someone who may be immunocompromised?
Public Mass is cancelled but Mass continues. Father Federico and I are celebrating daily Mass privately. We are honoring the intentions that are designated for the Masses as outlined in the bulletin.
As I was celebrating the Mass yesterday in our small chapel in the rectory, I was moved to tears at the beauty of the Mass. In place of a homily, as I did not feel preaching to myself was appropriate (lol), I stood there at the altar looking out the window and thinking about the importance of the Eucharist. First I thought of how privileged I am as a Priest of Jesus Christ to consecrate the Eucharist. What an honor and a privilege to be that instrument through which Jesus gives His people His own Body and Blood.
Then my thoughts took me to the teaching of the Church that EVERY Mass is a Mass for the salvation of the world, because EVERY Mass is Christ’s own sacrifice for all of us. It doesn’t matter if it is a Mass with one parish priest at the altar in his residence, a weekend Mass with hundreds of the faithful, or a Mass with the Pope and thousands in Saint Peter’s Square. The Mass in all circumstances and at all times is for the salvation of the world. WOW. The Mass has power whether we are together or not, even in the midst of this unprecedented time of restriction, the Mass continues for the salvation of the world.
So my dear parishioners, know that Mass is being offered for you! Whether it is by your parish priest in a chapel in their residence, or in the eerily empty Cathedrals of the world, or via Facebook Live and television. It is being offered all over the world by priests offering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world!
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 open Monday through Friday from 10AM until 3PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 9AM until 12Noon. During these hours, stop by and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. 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. To that end we have various means of communication we are utilizing:
Parish Facebook Page @stbridgetofswedenparish. During this time of closure we are going LIVE everyday at 1PM.
1. Monday through Thursday, and Saturday—Eucharistic Adoration
2. Fridays—Stations of the Cross
3. Sundays—Celebration of the Eucharist (Mass)—Please remember that Holy Mass is celebrated EVERY DAY all yearlong on WCCT-TV (WB20) and WCTX-TV (MyTV9) at 10AM.
We are also continuing our usual #beyondthebulletin on Tuesday mornings and #catholicconversations on Thursday mornings. We also post a picture of my dog Fenway every Friday helping out around the parish and school called #fenwayfriday! Check out our page! Follow us @stbridgetofswedenparish!
Parish App…If you haven’t signed up for the Parish App yet please do so NOW!
Text APP to phone number 88202. You will receive a link, click on it, open it in the store, download, search, and enter St. Bridget of Sweden and then click get started! It is that easy! 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. SIGN-UP TODAY!
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.
I am very grateful to our entire Parish Staff during this unprecedented time. The Pastoral Staff is working during this time to plan events and programs for the future. The Office Staff is working to continue to meet the needs of our Parish Family but also utilizing this quieter time to catch up on projects and organize ourselves for when we reopen. The Maintenance Staff is performing deep cleaning and disinfecting of our facilities as well as catching up on bigger projects since the buildings are free from use during this time.
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Today we would normally have the second scrutiny for our RCIA Catechumens (those preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation) - an exorcism prayer based on Jesus healing the blind man. It begins this way:
"As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth." The man represents all of humanity born with original sin, a kind of blindness if you will. We easily see other people's defects, their blind spots, but we often have great difficulty recognizing our own blindness. Like the blind man in the Gospel, we too need Jesus’ radical healing.
The healing of the blind man was done in a way that might make people wince. "He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes." Kind of gross perhaps? But the ancients believed that saliva had healing power. According to Augustine, the combination of saliva and earth represents Jesus joining humanity with divinity.
Some cannot see it or even imagine it. Jesus' healing upsets the Pharisees (who themselves though having physical sight were spiritually blind). The Pharisees know everything, but they cannot see what is right in front of their eyes. They have put Jesus in a box. They think he's a "sinner" - someone they can write off. The man born blind gives a simple response:
"If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see."
When Jesus directly confronts the man born blind, he says, "'I do believe, Lord,' and he worshiped him."
What healing do we need? Are we willing to recognize our blindness before the Lord and our need for His healing grace?
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. Even if the building is empty, bills and salaries need to be paid, and your support during this time will enable that to happen.
Here are ways you can give to your Parish:
1. Mail in your offertory!
2. Give online—sign-up for our Online Giving Program by clicking this link on our website:
a. Donations can be made directly from your checking account or by using any major credit card - so you can earn "points" while giving!
b. Donations can be scheduled for whatever frequency (weekly or monthly) you prefer (and if monthly, on whatever day is most convenient), or can be made on a one-time basis.
c. You can designate donations for different purposes: weekly, monthly, and holy day collections, diocesan/national collections, and Easter/Christmas flowers!
d. Your bank or credit card information is stored on secure servers contained behind firewalls and other defense systems to prevent unauthorized access. Parish staff cannot access your account information.
Want to learn more about Online Giving? Visit our website at www.stbridgetcheshire.org and click the Donate button in the menu on our homepage.
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. Here are some intentions sent from the Office of the Archbishop for you to incorporate into your family prayers:
For those who are suffering in the current outbreak of infectious disease, that they might be healed, and for the happy repose of all who have died from this illness in recent weeks, let us pray to the Lord.
For scientists, health professionals, public officials, and all who are serving the common good in this challenging and uncertain time, that they will be filled with insight, wisdom and success in their efforts, let us pray to the Lord.
That in times of illness our heavenly Father will strengthen our faith and trust in his goodness, mercy, and providential love, let us pray to the Lord.
That our compassionate Father in heaven will grant healing and peace to all those affected by the current outbreak with infectious disease, let us pray to the Lord.
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this of pandemic. With the gracious interecession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, may we be united with one another in prayer!