Recently, I was walking in the neighborhood and encountered a parishioner doing his normal jogging exercise and He stopped for a brief chat. I told him how much I missed seeing his family at the Sunday mass and he told me, “that they haven’t returned to Mass yet, because they have come to prefer watching Mass and making spiritual communions with a cup of coffee, from their La-Z-Boy chairs from the comfort of their home”. Another Parishioner has told me recently when I encountered her at a ShopRite Supermarket, “that they are enjoying viewing livestreams masses from exquisite Cathedrals with great sacred music, where these cathedrals usually feature priests who are superb preachers”.
While it's good at least that these two families are watching Mass virtually, I believe that many Catholics, like these two families, have formed new Sunday habits that, they are not eager to give up. Others have simply gotten into the habit of living without Sunday Mass altogether, even virtual.
I’m concerned, however, that sometime in the near future, when the Bishops lift the general dispensations from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, that they had decreed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that only a minority of those who were regular Sunday Mass goers will return to regular Sunday Worship.
Many people have gotten comfortable in the new normal of the pandemic.
On September 12, 2020, “the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, published a letter “Let us Return to God with Joy!” that he sent to the bishops across the world describing that it is “necessary and urgent to return to the normality of Christian life … and especially the Eucharist.”
“As soon as is possible,” Cardinal Sarah wrote, “we must return to the Eucharist … with a renewed amazement, with an increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with him, to receive him and to bring him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love, and hope.”
He reminded us, that Jesus gave himself to us not in a virtual way but in his Body and Blood. “This physical contact with the Lord is vital, indispensable, irreplaceable,” he underlined. “It is necessary that all resume their place in the assembly of brothers and sisters, rediscover the irreplaceable preciousness and beauty of the celebration of the liturgy, and invite and encourage again those brothers and sisters have been discouraged, frightened, absent or uninvolved for too long” to return.
I personally believe, what Cardinal Sarah believes, “that we cannot live without the living Word of the Lord; without participating in the sacrifice of the Cross by which we’re saved; without the banquet of the Eucharist that sustains us on the pilgrimage of earthly life; we cannot live without going to the house of the Lord, our sacred, spiritual home; and we cannot live without the Lord’s Day, which resets our soul and frees us from slavery to work and to earthly things, so that we might live for God and for on another.”
The whole theme of Cardinal Sarah’s letter is encapsulated by its title, “Let Us Return to God with Joy!” It puts the emphasis on what the Christian response should always be with regard to Sunday Mass: we attend not principally because we have to, but because we want to, out of gratitude to God and out of love.
St. Peter’s parish has invested in inserting into our Church’s HVAC system not only UV-lighting but also another device that purifies the air, making it a germ-free zone; we have Church protocols for safety; so when our Bishop, sometime in the future, finally lifts the general dispensations from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, there will be no reason for those who are healthy not to attend Sunday Mass. However, for those who are ill, or those with health conditions that would make contracting the coronavirus especially perilous, the bishops have generally maintained particular dispensations.
So, my dear people, Let us return to God with great Joy, as soon as you are able!
An Update on the Power Outage of St. Peter’s Campus
Just an update on St. Peter’s power outage; over a week ago, there was a power outage for the whole campus of St. Peter’s grounds. There was an electrical fire on the Wires on the telephone pole that powers our campus’ main Power source, coming into the Kolbe hall building. Thank God none of the buildings caught on fire. However, all the wires leading up to our campus’ electrical meter were totally burnt and no longer operational. Today, January 13th, 2021, the electricians and the power company assure me that they are finally ready to turn the power back on for the entire campus. I thank you: Parishioners, Friars, Sisters, and Parents, Principal, Teachers, and Catechists for your patience during this time without power when we were only relying on the power generator, which malfunctioned at different times throughout the week and a half. May God repay you for your patience!
Our electrical power equipment was very old and was inside the Kolbe Hall building; since we were grandfathered, in the past, whenever there was a minor electrical problem, we were able to just go ahead and fix a minor problem. However, since this last electrical problem was a serious and grave matter; the Power company left us no choice but to change the whole electrical panel and electrical meter, to the outside of the Kolbe hall building, so that we can have our parish campus up-to-code. Everyone has been very polite and very kind and helpful. I will ask our landscaper Vinnie, to beautify the property around the new electrical panels and meter. Thank God that our insurance department of the Diocese of Trenton promised that they will cover all the bills associated with this electrical problem.
God bless you and have a wonderful week!