From the Desk of Father Tharp
Resumption of Sunday Masses
Sunday Masses have been reinstated as of today, the Feast of Pentecost. Remember however that, no Catholic in Ohio is obligated (at this time) to attend a precept Mass. The Bishops of Ohio have extended the elimination of the obligation of the precept of Sunday attendance indefinitely. This means that NO Catholic in the Archdiocese, regardless of health, is obligated to physically attend Mass on Sunday. In fact, those with underlying medical conditions making them more susceptible are strongly encouraged to remain home and attend the Mass (virtually) on our Pastoral Region Youtube channel. If you feel it imprudent to physically attend Mass, and have decided to simply watch me celebrate Mass for the Pastoral Region on Youtube, simply call and leave a message for me. I will do my best to make certain that Holy Communion is brought to you during the week.
There are two things that are key! First and foremost, at all times you are at church, wear your mask or nose and mouth covering. The mask provides little protection FROM THE AIRBORNE VIRUS AS SUCH, but it is critical in stopping the virus because it stops the person wearing it FROM SPREADING THE VIRUS. Since we can have the virus and be asymptomatic; if everyone wears their mask religiously outside their home, the Virus cannot spread and I cannot infect anyone. Wearing the mask in public is a matter of Christian charity and common courtesy. It is the opposite of “herd immunity” which says (in essence) let everyone confront the virus. Wearing the mask says, “If we all wear a mask, the virus won’t be spewed into the air to infect anyone.” Those with compromising medical conditions should still be careful and remain sequestered for safety, but the rest of the population can simply learn to do what they do wearing a mask and social distancing.
Please note: I am asking everyone to bring their own mask, bandana, or nose mouth covering with them to church. I have a few masks the parish has purchased and (at Sacred Heart) some additional masks that have been made by a seamstress from the parish who has donated them to the parish. Anyone who does not have a mask is welcome to take one of these, but remember YOU can and should reuse your personal mask leaving the supply we have for those who do not have a mask. Please remember that anyone can fashion his or her own mask with two rubber bands, some tape, and a filter made from paper towels.
The second most important weapon we can use as we return to Mass is “Social Distancing.” You are being asked to voluntarily and in mutual courtesy to one another to social distance while entering, exiting, and sitting in church. As a result, for the time being, no greeters, no choir, no books in pews, no hand passing of collection baskets among the congregation (ushers can still use the baskets with extended handles), no sign of peace, no holding of hands at the Our Father, special communion choreography, elimination of communion on the tongue, and no congregating for conversation or fellowship before or after Mass. The following sign is posted at the doors of church to aid you in socially distancing:
For Mass Today, are you coming as: ???
An Individual: No other members of your household are with you at this time
A Couple: One other person who lives in your household is with you
A Family: All persons in your group live in one household
Then remember: Individuals MUST socially distance from everyone else!
Couples do not need to socially distance from each other, ONLY from everyone else
Family members living in the same household do not need to socially distance from one another, ONLY from everyone else
Every other pew is marked in RED This means Do Not Sit in a RED pew!!!
Sit as an individual, family, or couple in any non-red pew but be sure no other individual, couple or family is within six feet of you.
I have collected all the restrictions imposed on us by the civil authorities into an easy to read “bullet point” listing with specific instructions which has been emailed to you but is also available at the doors.
Sunday Mass WILL continue to be available on our Parish Websites
Even though the suspension of public Masses will end on Memorial Day, you will still be able to access virtual Mass each Sunday via our Pastoral Region Youtube page by clicking on the icon from either parish website or by going directly to our Youtube page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVLLqbEY5hKWinwz069MVcg . If you will be attending Sunday Mass from your home a little while longer, I suggest “bookmarking” our Youtube site for easy access. I will live-stream or record one of my two Saturday Masses from either St. Ann or Sacred Heart so it is available immediately after live-streaming as well as anytime thereafter.
RCIA Candidates and Catechumens
The Archdiocese has decided that baptisms, confirmations, and first communions for the RCIA will take place on Pentecost Eve. The RCIA will be baptized, received, and confirmed on Pentecost Eve at a private Mass so we can all still follow the rules of social distancing. The children who did the RCIC will receive their Sacraments on the Feast of Corpus Christi or shortly thereafter.
Children’s First Communion Class of 2020
If your child would have made their First Communion at Sacred Heart or St. Ann in April or May but did not because of the COVID-19 suppression of gatherings, I invite your to have your child receive First Communion at any of the Saturday Evening Masses, the Sunday Masses at which I am the celebrant, or any weekday Mass. Consult the bulletin to determine the Sundays when I am the celebrant at St. Ann, as well as the Sundays when I am the celebrant at Sacred Heart. Please email me your child’s full name, mailing address, your best telephone number, which parish (St. Ann or Sacred Heart) and the time and date of the Mass you would prefer for your child to make First Communion. We hope in the future to have a traditional First Communion Mass for 2020 both for St. Ann and Sacred Heart, but given the prognostications as to when we will be able to gather without restrictions, a family based First Communion at a regular Sunday Mass may be the best we can do for the time being.
Reflection on Scripture for the Feast of Pentecost
Pentecost is often called the “Birthday of the Church.” It is so titled because of the significance of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave the gift of the Eucharist to his disciples at the Last Supper. He revealed himself to them as resurrected Lord on Easter and thereafter for forty days. He allowed them to experience his Ascension to the Father. But in all of this, the disciples lacked the commissioning of God’s grace to function in the “self-confidence of faith.” They believed in the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus; but they lacked that cast-iron certainty of faith, that insight into the Divine, that would enable them to face the challenge of evangelizing the world. That necessary confidence comes only as a gift from God in the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit. Before the Holy Spirit descends on them at Pentecost, the disciples are fearful and hiding. After the Holy Spirit descends on them, they go out publically and profess their faith.
Many years ago working as a farm tractor mechanic, I would rebuild a tractor engine, fill the crankcase with oil, and then (lastly) fill the empty tank with enough fuel to start it. I could have done the best job in the world of machining the valves and wrist pins. I could have been meticulous in the installation of new rod bearings, piston rings, and main bearings. But after all was complete, it needed fuel if it was going to be productive. Without the fuel, it was pretty. With the fuel, it was functional.
On this Feast of Pentecost let us be mindful of the fact that we can look good and meet all the standards without the Holy Spirit, but we will never be good or productive as followers of Christ until we are fueled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Next Week: Feast of the Most Holy Trinity
Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9
2 Cor 13:11-13
Theme: One God in Three Divine Persons