First, I miss seeing you and I cannot wait until the "quarantine" is over! I assure you I remember you in my daily prayers and at the altar when I offer Mass each day.
I hope you attempt to watch Mass on TV (such as EWTN), or by livestream each Sunday. Here at the parish, we began a livestream broadcast on our Facebook page (Holy Angels Parish) on Easter Sunday. We intend to continue each Sunday at 10 AM while restrictions on public gatherings still exist. Please realize that this is a make-shift broadcast occurring via a cell phone, not a professional broadcast from a TV studio or using state-of-the-art equipment. Sound quality is not perfect and we only have a steady picture when the phone is mounted on a tripod. In other words, we are currently limited with what we can do.
I have had plenty of time to think and to try to make some sense out of our situation. Something that I have thought about, time and again, is that any kind of attempt at “remote” or livestream worship is not the manner in which Mass or the sacraments are supposed to take place. Yes, these means may be beneficial to the sick or homebound. However, sacraments are meant to be experienced in person. You cannot receive the Holy Eucharist from the TV or computer. You can make a Spiritual Communion, but it is not the same. Confessions cannot be heard over the phone. A person can only be anointed when the priest is physically present.
We need to get people back to church, back to Mass. When I see people still buying liquor from the liquor store, I question if the worship of Almighty God is not more essential than that? While the death of every innocent human being is tragic, how can abortion clinics be seen as essential in some states? Do not those lives matter as well? Websites still contend: Abortion is essential health care. People go to the grocery stores to get food to eat and sustain themselves and even to hoard toilet paper and cleaning supplies. How urgent do we feel the necessity of receiving the Bread of Life for our spiritual nourishment? Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. (Jn. 6:53)
There is more than a bit of hypocrisy involved in the decisions of what can and cannot remain open during this pandemic. Time will tell us whether our current actions/reactions were appropriate or not. One thing that still concerns me is that people are being deprived of the primary means of grace for Catholics—the sacraments. I am currently considering ways we can supply the sacraments to the people safely if our situation is unduly prolonged or if it occurs again in the future. The sacraments are most essential!
Thank you to all who continue to remember the parish financially during these difficult times. People have been mailing us their weekly envelopes or dropping them off at the rectory. While our income is down considerably, we still have the regular bills to pay (utilities, maintenance/repairs, some salaries, etc.). We have furloughed a number of employees since we cannot afford to keep everyone on staff at this time.
Let us continue to pray—especially seeking the intercession of our Blessed Mother—for help now and in the uncertain days ahead.
Fr. Ed Namiotka