Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Have you wondered what really makes someone a true disciple? Look no further than our Sunday Gospels presented these past couple of weeks. In his address the disciples in John 14:1-12, Jesus advises that the remedy for a troubled heart is to have faith in Him. In John 14:15-21, Jesus promises His disciples an Advocate in whom the spirit of truth will aid them. He then follows up by connecting love with following his commandments, for this is how the world will see Him through us. Faith, truth, love, obedience.
On the surface, these things seem reasonable. But, when tested and tried, these requirements can be outright demanding – even requiring sacrifice. This is especially true when passions are undisciplined and life is comfortable, as scripture reminds us.
In these recent months we all have lived with socially-directed restrictions placing each of us (or, at least households) in isolation. Even as we gradually ascend to heights of “new norms,” facial masks and social distancing will still be in place (perhaps more important than ever). These practices give present shape and form to our lives and how we’re called to interact as a community.
And we will hear some who think this is all a conspiracy while others believe that the sky is falling. Many will go rogue and refuse to respect others in public places while others will not step out of their home out of utter fear for their lives.
If anything, this pandemic proves that when faith, truth, love, and obedience are practiced by disciples and all people of good will, we can live in the midst of this nasty storm. As followers of Christ, when we choose to live as authentic disciples, we live as faithful citizens who are called to love one another with prudence, kindness, gentleness and patience. Filled with the Spirit of truth, we continue to exercise the corporal and spiritual works of mercy while obeying social directives for the safety of everyone.
On a personal level, we are each being tested in our own way. We have and will continue to weather the pandemic and its aftermath for quite some time.
Even as we joyfully anticipate the opportunity to reassemble for public worship on the weekend of May 30th and 31st, we do so with caution so that those who choose to join us can be assured that our gatherings are as safe as possible. For sure, gathering will not be without risk but we each have a personal responsibility to love one another as we observe certain requirements and guidelines. Otherwise, attempting to worship God in faith will be lacking should truth and charity be missing.
This past week, the Diocese of Cleveland issued directives for our liturgical celebrations. On the parish level, having reached out to those directly involved with specific ministries and responsibilities, I continue to work with our staff and other parish leaders to implement these directives. The goal is to provide safety measures while maintaining a warm welcome.
For the foreseeable future, our parish life will continue to look somewhat different. Because we must do everything to prevent the spread COVID-19, for which we do not yet have a remedy, we have to address many things by way of safe distancing, touching, and relating as an assembly. This will necessarily impact our physical space, some of our ritual actions, and how we connect before and after the actual liturgy inside church and outside of church. As we’re beginning solely with the re-opening of public Mass, we will then focus on other important aspects of parish gatherings. For this reason, no organized parish socials or events will be available for the time being.
I am very confident, with the guidelines provided by the diocese and the input of those involved in parish leadership, that we will be able to provide an environment that will ensure a safe and warm welcome for everyone. Specific information will be made available this coming week. In addition to our email distribution, we will also have this information on our parish website very soon.
As we prepare to welcome those who are planning to participate at Mass on May 30th and 31st, we would ask three things: First, if at all possible, please come to the Mass you ordinarily attend. While this is not a rule, it would give us a sense of how to prepare for the usual number of folks. We also are aware that many of our parishioners will not – and should not – be joining us for reasons of age or health. For this reason, we anticipate that our usual count will be far below average. Please remember that the dispensation from obligation to attend Mass remains in place by the Bishops of Ohio. Second, please be prepared to wear a mask and to enter specific doors of the church with hand sanitizer available upon entering the building. Third, please be prepared to receive additional instructions by staff and volunteers as you enter so that we may assemble in a safe and orderly manner. Your cooperation is not only appreciated, it’s absolutely essential out of love and concern for one another.
Faith, truth, love, obedience. This is truly an opportunity for each of us to integrate these pillars as we joyfully anticipate coming together in Christ and resume this important work of our Catholic Faith. Let this new Pentecost be upon us!
Moving Forward Together in Christ,