Dear Friends in Christ:
Well the concern is growing. There isn’t a day that goes by that the Coronavirus is not a topic of conversation! Just this past week I received two emails and one phone call from parishioners asking if we, as a parish, are going to do anything as a precaution during this time at our Masses. On Tuesday the Pastoral Staff and I were emailing back and forth about things we could implement here at Saint Bridget of Sweden as precautionary measures and then later in the day we received an email from the Archbishop regarding precautionary measures he is implementing throughout the Archdiocese.
So beginning this weekend we will be implementing these measures as directed by the Archbishop:
1. The sign of peace should be exchanged without physical contact like hand-shaking; or else the call to exchange a sign of peace should simply be omitted.
2. The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful via the chalice should be suspended; concelebrants and assisting deacons should receive only by intinction. (We have already implemented this due to the Flu being widespread.)
3. Communion on the tongue should be strongly discouraged. (PLEASE NOTE—choice of option remains with person receiving but reception in the hand is strongly encouraged at this time.)
4. There should be minimal handling of collection baskets, by ushers only.
5. Holy Water fonts should be emptied. (PLEASE NOTE—you can bring in your own holy water bottle (we have given them out at Easter each year) and fill it from the large holy water container and use it for yourself.)
6. Priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are urged to practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins or even using an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.
7. The faithful should be told that if they are sick or are experiencing symptoms of sickness they are not obliged to attend Mass, and that out of charity they ought not to attend.
I want to urge everyone in the course of daily life to do what you can to implement precautionary measures for yourself and your family. This is NOT to be a time of fear but a call to increased awareness and a call to do our part in not spreading this virus.
We also need to pray for an end to this illness throughout the world, and for those who are afflicted with it. You will hear some specific intentions at weekend Masses praying for an end to infectious diseases and to this particular health threat. Please add this to your daily prayers as well.
We will continue to monitor all available information and guidance about COVID-19 (the 2019 Novel Coronavirus) to determine how it impacts the many activities conducted within and by Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish. In seeking how to respond properly and as quickly as possible, we will focus at all times on the health, safety, and well-being of our parishioners.
SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT…Last Sunday we saw Jesus as a man immersed in the Scriptures who countered Satan's temptations. Imitating Jesus we desire immersion in the God's Word. The Word of God is critical to our lives as Catholics and, in particular, to our celebration of Mass. At our Masses we read from every section of the Scriptures. Not only that, almost every word of the Mass comes from Bible or is based on the Bible.
Still, it's not enough that words simply enter our ears. We want God's Word to live in our hearts. Today's Gospel shows how that can happen.
The opening verse states: "Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves." Jesus wants us to take time apart with him. In your home do you have some place for prayer? Maybe a corner with a candle, crucifix, or sacred image of Jesus or the Blessed Mother or your Patron Saint. I know some people use cell phone apps to pray and that is great if it works for you! Most of us need to turn off the cell phone, and disconnect, so we can give time completely to Jesus. He desires to lead us to our mountain top experience. Take a passage from the Bible and read it slowly, stopping where it speaks to you. It may speak hope, repentance, trust. What that voice says, listen.
On the mountain top we can hear the Father's voice: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." I've found the daily Mass readings almost always have a word I need to hear.
Join us on this journey of Lent reflecting on the daily readings in your prayer. Visit our Facebook Page or our Parish Website to see a reflection offered each day on the readings and then spend time listening to the Father’s voice in prayer. Join us for Theology on Tap at Vespucci’s this Thursday at 8pm with Bishop Betancourt on the topic of the importance of sacred scripture in the lives of everyday Catholics.
Parish Corporal Works of Mercy update…last weekend the generous people of our parish family donated 1,462 pounds of food to the Cheshire Community Food Pantry to give food to the hungry! Thank you!
This weekend we are collecting beverages to give drink to the thirsty and next weekend we will be collecting white socks for men, women, and children to help the clients at Saint Vincent DePaul Shelter in Waterbury, and/or onesies for babies at Carolyn’s Place to help clothe the naked. Thank you for all you do to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate and for recognizing that in serving them we are serving the Lord.
Lenten Suppers…we had an amazing group gathered together for the first Lenten Supper. We had over 170 people! It was just wonderful to see the adults getting to know each other, the young people enjoying time in the gym, and our family of faith being nourished together by food and fellowship. It was awesome!
Please join us as we come together for our Friday Lenten Supper, great conversation, and some fun activities for the kids. Supper is served from 5-7 PM, cost is only $10 per adult, $5 per child and senior citizen, and a $25 max per family. The menu includes pasta with sauce, salad, bread, a variety of soups each week, beverages, and a weekly special.
Please consider availing yourself of the opportunity to go to Confession during this Season of Lent. In addition to Saturdays from 3PM until heard we are also available on Monday mornings from 7:30 to 8:30AM!
When is the last time you went to Confession? Do you not want to receive the mercy of God? Do you not want a fresh start? Do you not want to be freed from that sin and burden? Is your #pickonething something that needs to be confessed so that the grace of the Sacrament can help you to turn that vice into a virtue? Are you letting nerves stop you from experiencing the mercy of God? If you're worried because you're "new at this," or because “it has been so long,” that's okay! It's okay to be nervous, it's okay to be afraid, but don’t let that fear hold you back.
I realize many do not consider Confession as important to their spiritual life these days. This is truly concerning to me! Who wouldn’t want to be freed from their sin and begin a fresh start at trying to follow Jesus better?
Sacramental confession allows God’s loving mercy and his grace-filled absolution to be confirmed to us through the ministry of the priest. Christ, through the priest, invites us to let go of anything that gets in the way of our relationship with Him. Christ, through the priest, encourages us to open ourselves to the peace and grace which can only be found through God’s forgiveness.
Through the sacramental ministry of the Church and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our sins are forgiven and we are given the grace to be more like Christ; to experience and embody the saving ministry and healing grace of Jesus Christ.
I urge us all to be open to God’s love and grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent. Encourage family members and friends to do the same. Don’t wait to experience God’s mercy!
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.