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April 5, 2020
My Dearest Parish Family,
God be with us always.
“It will get worse before it gets better.” These are words I heard repeated many times from some experts as they were asked their predictions/opinions on how events will unfold with the pandemic that is now inflicting so much hardship on the whole of humanity. The tragedy and sorrow COVID-19 brings is a reality that we confront daily. We fear, we are anxious, we are uncertain; yet these are the feelings we need to embrace with the grace of faith, hope and trust in God so we will overcome. The very same experts say that the sacrifices we are making that is also taking toll on each of us will mitigate the further damages that will be the result of doing nothing. We are in a battle – a war zone. This is how some people have been heard describing our new normal.
Today, we enter into Holy Week with the Celebration of Palm Sunday. It is a joyous occasion that somehow masks what will be unfolding in the next few days. Our Lord triumphantly enters into Jerusalem only to embrace the ignominious Passion and Death in order to redeem us. This experience is nothing new because it is part of the Liturgical Cycle we go through every year. However, this time it is just became so real. Our faith journey is being challenged to become real – real enough that we truly have entered into the experience of our Passion and Death through the common experience brought about by the pandemic.
During these times we must not allow the disastrous pandemic to prevent us from believing and acknowledging that the Paschal Mystery ends not in death but life. Our Lord Jesus will rise triumphant – our Savior conquers sin and death once for all. “If we truly believe and have hope – we are raised with Christ and we seek the things that are above.” It is with the same sacrificial love that we will get through the demands of mitigating the effects of the pandemic in the different aspects of our lives. It is with expectant joy and hope that will be strengthened to accept that negative circumstances we will face – “this too shall pass.”
We will continue to pray, to support one another, to reach deep into ourselves and reach out to those in need and desperation. We will allow the Christ in us to seek the Christ in others because we are capable of truly loving, truly giving as our Lord and Savior Jesus has shown us in the unfolding holy days. He has embraced every human affliction there is and transformed it with his Redemptive Love so that it does not end in death but in Eternal Life.
Let us immerse ourselves into the experience of the Paschal Mystery. We have experienced a unique kind of fasting in the last few weeks – a fasting from what we have been familiar and comfortable and perhaps have taken for granted. Now we long for the familiar sacred space, the Holy Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, the healing words and relief of Confession, the physical presence of praying as one – we have to adjust to a new manner of worship. Our penance consisted of being isolated from our daily routine and habits. We were forced to encounter our families intensely each day – testing our patience, our capacity to love and to be creative in living day to day. As we join our Lord Jesus into the depths of human suffering we will rise with Him on the Glorious Easter Morn. God bless and take care.
Love and prayers,
Fr. Thomas Paul K. Naval