Saturday, March 14, 2020

How we'll get through the Coronavirus (Sunday homily)

I had a very different homily in mind for this Sunday, 
explaining “justification,” which we heard about from St. Paul. 
Very short answer:

Justification is God changing us from rebels to faithful children. 
From filthy to clean; from sinners to saints.
This happens to us first in baptism, 
and inasmuch as you and I frequently need to be renewed, 
again and again in confession.

That said, we need to review the changes taking effect 
because of concern about the coronavirus.

I’m working from this hot-pink sheet in today’s bulletin, 
but I am only hitting some of them; please still read this on your own: 

- At the order of the Archbishop, the obligation to attend 
Holy Mass is suspended through March 29. 
That means you do not HAVE to go. But no one is stopping you.

Please use good judgment. If you are sick or sniffly, stay home. Stay home if your age or health make you vulnerable.
But also, maybe someone else in your home is vulnerable, 
and by staying home, you keep others safer.

- If you are scheduled to assist at Mass in any way, 
and you aren’t coming, that’s OK, but please let the office know.

- All youth and religious education activities are cancelled 
until further notice. 
- Stations of the Cross on Thursday evenings is cancelled through the end of March.

- This week’s lunch for “over-70” parishioners is cancelled,
and tonight’s Spaghetti Dinner is postponed.

- All Mass times remain the same, including daily Mass. 
Changing times around risks even more confusion.

- Eucharistic Adoration will continue, but if you are scheduled 
and aren’t coming, please call the parish office.

- Confessions will continue at the usual times. 
In addition, I was planning to hear confessions for children 
in CCD, and even though CCD is cancelled, 
I’ll still be in the confessional at those times if you want to come. Times are listed on this sheet.

- I removed the holy water at the Archbishop’s direction.
If you bring me a container of water, I’ll bless it for you.

- The Archbishop asks not to hold hands during the Our Father, and not to shake hands at the Sign of Peace.

- We won’t distribute the Precious Blood at Mass; 
therefore, only one Eucharistic minister is needed at each Mass.

- The bread and wine won’t be brought forward at the offertory.

- The Archbishop asks that all receive the Sacred Host in the hand.
Now, I know some people feel strongly about this last issue, 
so let me add some commentary. 
It is actually a universal norm of the Church 
that people can receive the Eucharist on the tongue if they so desire; and Archbishop Schnurr has no wish to coerce anyone. 
So no one will be forced in this matter.

The issue is hygiene, and I will tell you as a priest, 
I am far more likely to touch your hand, than I am your tongue. 
That may surprise you, but that is my day-in, day-out experience.

For the sake of our kids who may be unsure 
about how to receive Holy Communion,
Let me do a quick review.

If you receive in the hand, please keep your hands flat, 
one on top of the other, and keep them nice and still.
No problem.
But if you cup your hands or bring them together quickly,
My hand is going to touch yours, it can’t be helped.

If you receive on the tongue, please open wide and put your tongue out, and remain still. Then there’s no problem.

Now, maybe someone is saying,
But when I come to communion, the distributor touches my tongue.
I don’t know if any of our distributors has difficulty with this,
But if so, just come see privately. I will be glad to help.

OK, now let me say something about the whole situation,
Which seems so far out for almost all of us.

Some of us are probably thinking, this is all overblown.
Others may be getting over-anxious.

My parents lived through World War II, and growing up,
I heard a lot about what that was like, with black-out curtains, 
and air-raid drills, rationing of food and gasoline, war bonds,
and of course, hundreds of thousands of men sent to war,
and everything else reorganized.

The whole country was mobilized, and this reminds me of that.

There was a point when the war seemed far away,
and there were people saying there’s no problem, it’s overblown.
That isn’t how it turned out, of course.

You and I don’t know how serious this will be.
Most of us, if we catch the virus, will be fine; 
but if we help spread it, then some of us are in deep trouble. 
If the hospitals get overwhelmed, that’s a serious issue for us all.
So it’s all about slowing the spread. That’s the whole ballgame.

Just as in World War II, it was important that everyone do his part.

So, kids, you’re off school. Some might consider it a break, 
but this is creating challenges for mom and dad. How will you help?
Blood banks and food banks need supplies right now. Do what you can.

And at risk of stating the obvious, we need to pray!
This church remains open every day, 5 am to 9:30 pm at night.

If you stay home, don’t stop praying. Pray as a family.
A lot of health-care people are on the front lines.
Many businesses are hard-hit and that means jobs.

And one more thing we all know, but let’s call it to mind:
We will get through this. 
The best way is that we help each other, 
And we remember that God is still in charge.

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