My days feel a bit like the 1993 movie Groundhogs Day. There is a repetitiveness to them that has grown more evident in this time. Mondays and Wednesdays and even Sundays feel almost the same – up, shower, Morning Prayer, Mass at 8a, to the office to answer emails and check mail, and on it goes. Since I’ve only been off the Holy Family campus 8x (I think) since March 13, the routine has become much more pronounced. I suspect this may sound a bit familiar to many of you. While your repetitive routine is likely a bit different – we ‘work from home’, navigate the home life, and so many of you home school, the tasks may vary a little bit daily, but we don’t get a ‘break’ or a ‘change’. What we might have typically looked forward to for feasts or family gatherings and games, year-end events and summer vacations and the like, now are very much in question or altogether cancelled. And while we love one another immensely, we are encountering the reality of living together in an intimate and intense way in our respective homes. There is the possibility to be rude or selfish or just to have too much of each other such that this time increases our divisions or discord.
If you recall the movie, it eventually ends when the main character who was rather selfish and rude, finally learning to love others around him. I pray the restrictions on our lives are lifted long before every one of us becomes ‘perfect’ (for me that would take a mighty long time!), but I do think this time could be a great opportunity to teach us better how to live. Have we stepped back long enough from our situation to become intentional in this life with others and for others? I don’t say this to give you one more thing ‘to do.’ Intentional means we realize we are all experiencing this repetitive closeness and stress together. And so we need to think about and respond, not simply react. We need to forgive. We need to bear one another’s burdens. We need to be patient and pray – for ourselves and those we live with. We need to extend and receive mutual respect and obedience. We need to allow this to be part of our sacrifice and love for each other as we extend mercy. Doing so could transform our lives for the good well after the restrictions have lifted.
In the First Reading for this Sunday – Peter proclaims: “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you (both) see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33). Of this we are all witnesses – in your home, in your family, in your repetitious life of the present – here and now witness to Christ’s new life in you and yours by the way you live in love for each other. Intentionally practice such witnessing in thought, word, and deed with those who are dearest to you. The home – the family – the domestic church is meant by God to be a classroom for love full of daily lessons of ‘homework’ in its practice. And if successful, that would be a day worth repeating over and over again.
Lots of discussion has begun about what “Re-Opening” might look like, not just for businesses and the global economy, but more importantly for the economy of Souls and the eternal business of Salvation in Mass and Divine Worship of our Lord and God. The short answer is: I don’t know?!? I do know that that answer is not very reassuring. But I also know we will reopen. It will happen. I also know lots of discussion is taking place to ensure that it happens soon and safely at all levels: the Archbishop with other bishops and government leaders; pastors across parish boundaries; on social media and news outlets by anyone and everyone – qualified or not. I know planning in general and in specific ways is underway. I know reopening will very likely happen in phases. And finally, I know it will not be parish or Church life “as usual” – changes to our practices – some temporarily and some permanent – will be part of the “new normal”.
While I don’t know for certain, I suspect a few of the following (i.e., read this as Fr Gries’ opinion not fact nor mandate). Attendance will be limited (at least at the start), but how that limiting will be determined is still being worked out. Those with certain conditions or vulnerabilities will be encouraged to continue to stay home (and the Sunday Obligation will continue to be lifted or will be modified for a time). Social distancing, masks, and hand sanitizer will be part of the new normal at Mass, for a while. Certain alterations to liturgical practices will likely be implemented or continue – I see the optional ‘sign of peace’ being omitted or altered to non-contact. I see the indult (special permission) previously granted for the faithful to receive the Precious Blood from the chalice to be rescinded or at least suspended for the foreseeable future. I suspect mandatory spacing in the pews will be necessary. I think windows and doors being open for increased airflow. I have been asked about outdoor Masses or ‘parking lot Masses’. I’m not sure. We are not exactly set up for that – but then we were not set up to live stream Masses either. We’ll see what or if that becomes possible or necessary. There are lots of great articles and op-ed pieces out there. This one seems pretty reasonable: What to Expect When Public Mass Resumes (Denver Catholic)
What you can do now in advance of the Re-Opening is make sure your email is on record with the parish so you receive the weekly email blasts and check the Holy Family parish Website and social media posts often. I would also ask you not to go running to other parishes or across the river. If the reopening is uneven (which it probably will be) and suddenly flooded by neighbors, that will only force a reversal to occur and shut-down to be re-implemented. As has been stated so many times: “We are in this together.” I would now add: “We only get out of this together.” Patience & prayer, respect & obedience, sacrifice & mercy will all be needed in abundance now and in the days of reopening to come.
Parish Life does still continue in many ways. Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Council have met via Zoom. School staff have similar meetings.
One event of note from the Parish Pastoral Council is that Mrs. Karen Schueler will be stepping down as PCC chair and committee. Karen has served the parish in this capacity for many years and is to be thanked for her service, leadership, and wise counsel. I give a personal thanks as she was of great assistance to me during my transition to Holy Family. She will be missed form PCC, but will continue to remain a faithful and active member of the parish. Thank you Karen and may God Bless you. Mr. Larry Abell will be taking over as the new chair.
I know Easter can feel ages ago, but we Catholics are still in the wonderful season of new life and Resurrection. Blessed Easter!
He is Risen!
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries
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