Updated: Mar 20
Dear Friends in Christ:
Well the concern continues to grow, especially as there are now, as of this writing, two confirmed cases of patients with Coronavirus in the State of Connecticut.
There isn’t a day that goes by that the Coronavirus is not a topic of conversation! We are remaining vigilant to say the least. In this time of unknown it is best to be prepared as best we can. With that said we implemented the precautionary measures provided by the Archbishop last weekend and these remain in effect until further notice:
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. A clarification came this week that reminded all clergy that it is still allowed especially in particular circumstances when understandably necessary such as a parishioner with a disability that prevents reception on the hands.
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.
Remember Mass is celebrated on television each and every day at 10AM on WTXX or WCCT. If you are sick and watch this Mass on television it fulfills your Sunday Obligation!
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. Please know that in addition to these precautions we are working daily on disinfecting to the best of our ability the doorknobs, door handles, tops of pews, covered-missalettes, and other places frequently touched by human hands.
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. For the next couple of weeks we will be offering our time of Eucharistic Adoration on Fridays for this particular intention! We ask that you come, sit a good distance from others, and pray before the Eucharistic Lord invoking His help for our world as we deal with this virus.
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.
LAST SUNDAY our RCIA Catechumens traveled to Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hartford to participate in the Rite of Election. The Rite of Election closes the Period of the Catechumenate. This rite normally coincides with the first Sunday of Lent. At this rite, upon the testimony of sponsors and catechists and the catechumens' affirmation of their intention to join the Church, the Church makes its "election" of these catechumens to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. In the presence of the Archbishop (or his delegate), they inscribe their names in the Book of the Elect at the cathedral as a pledge of fidelity. Now the catechumens are called "the elect” or "the illuminandi" ("those who will be enlightened"). They now begin a Period of Purification and Enlightenment —the final, intense preparation for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. On the next five Sundays of Lent, three scrutinies (rites for self-searching and repentance) and the presentations of the Creed and Lord's Prayer take place. This period concludes with the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.
After the Easter Vigil, the newly baptized and confirmed members of the Church (technically called neophytes) enter the Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy. During this time they grow in their understanding of the mysteries of the faith and strengthen their bonding with the rest of the faithful. This process is meant to help them enter more fully into the life and unity of the Church.
The RCIA is a spiritually moving process beneficial to the whole parish community. As we draw closer to the celebration of Easter, let us pray in particular for those elect who will be entering our holy Catholic Church this Easter. In our parish, they are Mark Lacy and Ryan Garrett. Pictured here is Deacon Richard Wilber as the Sponsor with Ryan Garrett signing the Book of the Elect last Sunday!
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT…This weekend we hear the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Last weekend we saw how listening to Jesus can make all the difference in our lives. Today the dialogue between Jesus and the Woman at the Well also teaches something profound about listening.
Most people think they are good listeners. Didn’t Matthew Kelly say that in the book Resisting Happiness?
Today we see the best listener - Jesus! Of course, Jesus is God, but in his humanity he models focused listening - so much so that the Samaritan woman exclaims, "He told me everything I have done." Jesus fulfills her deepest desire - to open her heart and not hold back anything. For sure she thirsts for ordinary water but much more for living water, that is for acceptance by one who knows everything she has done.
You and I should bring that thirst to our prayer. Like the Samaritan woman, we've got to come clean about our past. We have to own up to our sin. We have to be truthful about who we are and tell God how many things we have put before Him in our list of priorities.
Why can God alone satisfy our thirst? Here's the reason: the thirst we bring to prayer is nothing compared with the thirst God has for us.
That's the message for the third week of Lent. In the end only God can satisfy the true thirst of our hearts, because he thirsts for your salvation and mine.
This Sunday we also have the First Scrutiny. This is an exorcism prayer which is part of the RCIA process and it is based on the Gospel we just heard where Jesus offers the Samaritan woman "Living Water" that is, the Holy Spirit. "Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Here is the prayer that will be said for our Catechumens: "Grant that these catechumens, who, like the woman of Samaria, thirst for living water, may turn to the Lord as they hear his word and acknowledge the sins and weaknesses that weigh them down. Protect them from vain reliance on self and defend them from the power of Satan...Amen."
Parish Corporal Works of Mercy update…this past weekend the generous people of our two churches donated 2,808 pounds of beverages to the Cheshire Community Food Pantry to give drink to the thirsty! Thank you! This weekend we are collecting WHITE socks for men, women, and children to be donated to the Saint Vincent DePaul Shelter in Waterbury OR onesies for Carolyn’s Place to help clothe the naked and next weekend we will be taking up a second collection to be donated to the shelter to shelter the homeless. Please note we have been made aware that for next weekend you have two envelopes already. For those who wish to give to the Catholic Relief Services collection please put that envelope in the basket during the First Collection. ALL PROCEEDS from the Second Collection will be given toward the Saint Vincent DePaul Shelter. 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.
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.