Hiding behind a locked door for day after day – staying home and sheltering in place – together with their ‘brothers’ praying, waiting, discussing, pointing fingers, trying to remain patient and at peace, scared, confused, wondering what is next, on the lookout, unsure…. No, I’m not discussing the last several months of Pandemic sheltering-in-place, but the Apostolic Eleven with the other disciples in the upper room obediently awaiting the promised coming of the Advocate by the Ascended Lord. They spent those days filled up with anticipation, anxiety, angst, and awe. But once they went forth from those days in seclusion, they bore tremendous fruit for Christ and the Kingdom – the Church went forth, encountered, and grew like a blazing forest fire.
Does that describe you or me? Does it describe Holy Family Parish? Honestly, I’m not sure it does. Has the ‘Fire’ burned out or run its course over the many years since that upper room? Given that the divine power of our God who knows no time or limit, I don’t know how it could. I believe the Holy Spirit desires to do something in you and I – today – now – something different than so often seems to be happening. Sometimes, I wonder if the fire of the Holy Spirit placed within us Christians as a pure and free gift by Baptism and Confirmation – is somehow like a smoldering or oxygen starved flame… just waiting for an infusion of air and fuel – the air of our souls given over fully to God and the fuel of our bodies after the Perfect Offering of the Son.
When freely offered, freely handed over, freely encouraged and fanned, the ember of the inner Flame of the Spirit will ‘enable them [and us] to proclaim’ (Acts 2:4). The Eleven spent their time of seclusion pondering and preparing. Just so, in these days, even days of the reopening, can be the way to revive and to revitalize the Christian person and family and Church – if, yes if, we also are given over to prayer, to service, to offering of self to the Father of the Risen Lord.
When Drive-Thru Confessions became a thing shortly after the COVID closure, I was amazed at people’s desire and at priests’ dedication. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis elected to prevent such practices in the earnest effort to side with caution and protection. Now that the Sacramental life has resumed, even with certain conditions and protocols, I wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to make use of the Sacrament of Confession. I thought to myself if I’d been staying at home with my parents and siblings for weeks, confession would have been greatly needed. Even living by myself, it was important for me to make use of Confession the day things opened up. Apparently, I’m more or less alone… The numbers making use of my daily offering of the Sacrament have been underwhelming!?!? As such, it is not sufficient to justify my continued daily commitment. Either the noon time is not conducive or the need is not there (?!?). As such, after June 1st, the Confessions schedule will be returning to what it was pre-closure. Tuesday evenings from 5:00-5:20p; Saturday morning from after 8a Mass until 9a; Saturday evening from 4:00-4:45p and Sunday Evening 5:00-5:45p.
Due to the need for social distancing, Confessions will continue to be offered in the church sanctuary. A few people have asked about that? I realize it is not as private as a Confessional, but it is no different than the very common practice used at Parish Penance Services. Music is played to cover the conversation. I fervently believe Confession is the most powerful and least used Sacrament we have apart from the Eucharist itself in fostering peace, joy, and holiness.
Thank you for your patience as we all adjust to and abide by the newly implemented Mass Protocols. Things are clearly a little different. They will likely be around for a while, so they will become more familiar. We may not ‘like’ this new normal, but it does allow us to gather together safely so as to be sanctified by the Mass in Scripture and Sacrament. And that greatest of goods is worth a little hardship and sacrifice. So, thank you!
Come Holy Spirit and Fill the Hearts of thy Faithful!
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries