Being Close from Afar

posted 3/18/20

I received a text message from an old friend of mine this morning and she shared with me the ways in which the current health crisis has affected her family.  Everything is cancelled and people are trying to figure out what to do with themselves as they move forward into a future that feels uncertain.  She then said: “I’m sure more than ever you feel like a shepherd to the flock!”   

I had to reflect on those words for a little while.  To be honest, one of the things I’ve been struggling with these days is a feeling of distance from the people of the parish.  Under normal conditions I see parishioners at Mass, at evening meetings, while on Communion calls, at religious education and youth group, and even the occasional dinner at someone’s home.  But now, all of that has come to a halt and it feels strange.  How does a shepherd tend to his flock when they seem so far away? 

This website is one way in which I can share with you what is going on in the local Church, but also share with you the fruit of some of my reflections on our current situation.  I hope to update it daily – please sign up on the homepage if you would like to be notified when new things are posted.  Perhaps it will give you some comfort and allow the members of the parish to feel connected to the community.  We might not be able to gather together physically, but we can gather together virtually online. 

But even more importantly, we can gather mystically as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.  By our baptism, we are grafted onto the Mystical Body, like a branch is grafted onto a vine.  The life of grace flows through the faithful like life-giving sap. In this way, the Lord unites us as the Church in Himself.  Thus, we can offer our prayers, our penances, our work, our celebrations and sufferings for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Central to this mystery is the way in which we gather mystically at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Yes, it is true that public Masses have been cancelled and so we priests must offer Masses in private for the time being.  But even though there’s no congregation physically present, one is never alone at the Mass.  In fact, we are most present to each other at the Mass.  All the members of the faithful, all the members of the Church throughout the ages, are present at every Mass – where we encounter Christ Incarnate, Sacrificed, Risen, and Glorified.  Fr. Mariusz and I will remember you especially at the altar as we offer Mass, ministering to the flock from afar, but also in the most intimate way possible.

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