Dear Faith Family,
I hope you are doing well. I know times are difficult and it may be hard to find silver linings throughout the quarantine, but even if we cannot see it, God is still at work.
For years as Youth and Young Adult Minister here at Padre Serra, I have been incredibly blessed to minister to hundreds of youth and young adults. I know it is cliché, but it’s absolutely true when I say that they minister to me as much as I minister to them. They have made my faith more real and I am blessed to have encountered so many examples of young people pursuing Christ and becoming disciples.
I’m not sure about you, but I tend to fall under the trap of exploring my faith mostly at church functions.
Whether it’s Mass, gatherings with other youth ministers or the events that we run at Padre Serra. While these are important to our faith lives, this quarantine has got me thinking about the importance of the Domestic Church. I mentioned silver linings, this may be one of them; through this quarantine, I have learned to bring my faith home in a new way.
We are blessed to have Mass livestreamed, thank you to all of you who have tuned in, and in Youth and Young Adult Ministry we have been very active with digital gatherings, trying to keep to the norm before all of this mess. My challenge though, since we are adhering to social distancing, is who to share the good news with beyond the Church event. What better place to do this than at home?
I am lucky to say that my family’s prayer life at home has been more intentional than ever. Like all of you, my family and I are yearning for the day where we can gather in person again, but somehow, even without being able to physically be at church, a new spirituality has been on my heart. I truly believe that by allowing God in our homes in a more intentional way, we will continue to make disciples of all nations, even if we are stuck at home.
Again, I know things are difficult. Just the thought of the amount of Zoom meetings I’ve had make my eyes hurt. But I promise you it is not without benefit! When Christ commissioned his Apostles to spread His good news, what was the major step? To gather in homes to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within them. This is such a great opportunity to strengthen our homes with grace.
I promise when we do that, the next time we all get to receive Communion together, we will be more joined in community than ever!
Dear friends on the journey, Here we are on day 31 and 5th Sunday of quarantine. What we’re living right now seems like a movie doesn’t it? For our family, comedy might be the best description and I suspect there’s not too many living a romance. I’ve heard several people compare their experience to a science fiction film and even Groundhog Day. Perhaps for others it might parallel horror, suspense, adventure, crime, drama, fantasy, mystery or satire. No matter the movie genre, this pandemic and our stay-at-home response is something surreal, unbelievable and unprecedented. We’re all wondering if this is for real. Everyone is locked in their homes in comfy clothes, only going out for groceries. Masks and gloves are wardrobe musts. Essentials are the basics for survival. School and graduations canceled. Telecommuting to work. And our liturgy is now on YouTube! It’s certainly an emotional roller coaster with ups and downs, fears and joys, calm and frenzy, tears and laughter, and everything in between. We are living moment to moment, not knowing what will happen next.
Today’s gospel story about Jesus’ post resurrection appearance to the disciples in the locked room is also a roller coaster of emotions from fear and worry to doubt. They are filled with disbelief and uncertainty, likely wondering if the recent events were real and what was going to happen without their teacher. Then Jesus appears to them and they rejoice, three times he offers peace, gives the Holy Spirit to them, and sends them out to be believers and to forgive. Then Jesus challenges their belief. Does it come only from their seeing Jesus in person?
This gospel’s message is for us as well. Now more than ever, we need Jesus’ peace. We need belief and the Holy Spirit to get us through this time. Only Jesus can give us this peace and he offers it every day. It’s our response that will make a difference, especially when we have no certainty of the immediate future. I have found much hope, comfort and peace in this time of quarantine and see the Holy Spirit at work. Here is where social media has shined for me. Seeing stories of courage, charity given, appreciation, gratitude, humanity at its best. I am beyond proud of our parish for acting so quickly to live stream Mass, to be willing to shop for seniors, to make wellness calls, to donate food, to give generously so the parish can stay afloat.
So today I encourage all of us to rely on our faith that Jesus has us. Rest in his peace that with him and through him, we will come out on the other side stronger and better. Lean on the belief that the Holy Spirit is working and look for even her small, simple movements in our lockdown. Celebrate them. Take comfort that the disciples who were locked in that room in fear and disbelief eventually came out stronger and better and with greater conviction.
The coronavirus has gripped us in its teeth, and within only weeks, left many with the sense that it would never end. We remember the pleasures of everyday life, often take so much for granted: trips to the store without fear, time spent in crowds, the hugs of friends, our children’s soccer games, crowded concerts, noisy restaurants. Is it possible to miss crowded restaurants? We can’t pretend it’s not happening, yet…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
Every generation, throughout human history, has its own story to tell about death and rebirth, be it rooted in financial ruin,
warfare, flood or drought, tornado, violence, tyranny…or plague. Our greatest struggles all too often, betray our weaknesses: we become frightened or rebellious against restraints, we hoard, we struggle with authorities making decisions for us, we grow angry and aggravated with the people we live with, our friends, family and neighbors. Familiarity (and forced enclosure) breeds…aggravation. We can’t pretend it’s not happening, yet…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
Jesus experiences the Passion first, death second, and only then renewed life and reunion with the Father in the Ascension. So, even on this otherwise joyful day, when we are experiencing a national passion, where many have died and many are still dying, there remains the hope of renewal and reunion, with family and friends, and with Jesus. This too may happen…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
On the other hand, our resistance to the crisis also helps us grow immensely when, through self reflection, we refine our rough edges and recover from our relationship problems. Through our struggles, we grow stronger and find clarity as we seek new visions and purpose for our lives. How much more life giving that rebirth is when coupled with the intimate experience of God’s presence, giving renewed meaning to our sufferings, accompanying us in our struggles, and giving our hearts reason for rejoicing. This growth, too, is happening…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
If I can give you any encouragement in this confused, unwell time, it would be to in the face of an uncertain future. It would be to cherish small joys, celebrate courageous actions and be grateful for the generous help of the essential services going on around us. Don’t wait for a trouble free, coronavirus free, aggravation free time to live fully. Choose happiness. Choose family and friends. Choose your neighborhood. Choose your co-workers. Choose life.
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen! And he would have us rise, too, both here and now, from our covid ridden weeks, and on into eternity.
My prayers are, of course, for your health, for a strong trust in God, and for an Easter that is joyfully full of the people who matter to you, whether in person, or on the phone, or the internet.
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
The Elect are those who are very near to being initiated into the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The current social distancing due to COVID-19 has prevented them from being initiated at the usual time during the Easter Vigil. Please pray for our 16 Elect, and for all the Elect of the world, as they patiently await the day when they will join us fully as members of the Body of Christ.
This is written for submission fourteen days before it will be published. What a significance that number of days has become for us and for our global community. We have only to look across The Pond to see where we will be two weeks from the day you read this. Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. It is something many of us have never seen, many are not now seeing, and many will not see.
“See you on the other side” is a phrase I have seen in print among the Tweets I follow in my attempt to understand from the epidemiologists, immunologists, historians and others who analyze factual data in my quest to confront FEAR, which I see as False Evidence Appearing Real. The ambiguity of whether the phrase pertains to the other side of this crisis or the other side of a transformed life; yes, even a resurrected life does not escape me. However, for me having knowledge of what is ahead allays fear. Both the angel [28: 5] and Jesus [28: 10] say, “Do not be afraid,” then they follow up with information as to what is ahead of the listener. So, it is with the Gospel readings of this day. The followers are told what lay ahead.
In the Gospel of the Procession, “... you will find an ass tethered ...” and instructions as to where to go and what to do. Throughout the Passion Jesus is telling his people what to do, who will do what, and what is to come. A drama unfolds. Certainly, I jumped ahead to Easter in the preceding paragraph, but the conclusion of that drama is important to me in the passion in which we are today involved. I quote from the Gospel reflection offered in Living Liturgy,
“There is a mob mentality at work and it should give us pause, not only for what happened in Jesus’ day but for how such actions continue today. False testimony, deceit, betrayal, even physical force and violence leading to death are prominently on display. The crowd, humanity itself, is only too eager to believe the worst, to mock, taunt, scourge, and kill the incarnation of love itself ... The response demanded by God of humans is faith. When faced with deceit, lies, violence, and death, God has another way, and we are invited to enter into this new way of life.”
In the unprecedented absence of an Easter Vigil, we pray especially for our Elect, whose initiation has been delayed, yet are invited into this new way of life in Baptism. May our faith lived out exemplify this new life to them.
I sense The Way of the Cross will be unprecedented for us even beyond Easter. May the LORD be present in our kindness and compassion. May we all be Cyrenians and live out the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy. May we heed and give credence to the experts in the areas of health, safety, and security of our collective well-being.
Pray for Father Patrick, all spiritual and civic leaders that they convey a global community, compassion, humility and hope. Pray for those who put themselves at risk for the sake of our health and security. Pray for the sick and dying we know and those no longer strangers due to our common suffering. Pray for those who have died before us. Continue to love one another as Jesus loved.
New public health comments about masks
Ventura County Public Health Press Release
Contact: Ashley Bautista, Public Information Officer, (805) 654·2640
Ventura, CA – Ventura County Public Health Officer changes position on face masks, no longer advising against wearing them in public. Instead, he supports those residents who wish to cover their nose and mouth when leaving home for essential travel to doctor appointments, grocery shopping or pharmacy visits. The face coverings should not be hospital grade at this time because there is a shortage and our health professionals need them. Masks should be homemade and cover the nose and mouth. There are numerous sites online which demonstrate or give patterns for how to make fabric masks. The Camarillo Sewing Brigade provides video instruction at the following link. Additional instruction at the following link. Fabric masks can be washed and used again.
For decades, Public Health officials nationwide and locally have said that wearing a mask for protection against the flu is unnecessary for the general public. Now, Ventura County Public Health Officer Doctor Robert Levin says circumstances have changed. “There is growing evidence that people can have COVID-19 without any symptoms and that they can pass it to others at this stage. Many people wear masks thinking it will protect them from a virus, and in certain cases it may. That may also be true for COVID-19 especially if accompanied by good hand hygiene and social distancing, but now there may be a better reason to wear a mask; it will decrease the chance of you spreading it to someone else if you have the infection asymptomatically.”
This is particularly important if decreasing spread means not infecting a senior or someone with other chronic conditions. “In light of building evidence, I support those who wish to wear a mask in public. I don’t think everyone must do so, but I look upon those who do as making a responsible decision. I never thought I’d say that.” It is imperative though, that the use of masks by members of the public not contribute to the shortage of personal protective equipment needed by first responders like health care workers. If someone chooses to wear a mask in public, it should be home made, at least until there is no more shortage. “I’m not ready to wear a mask yet but I will respect those who do. It’s going to be hard for me to not start wearing one,” said Doctor Levin. “Covering your face doesn’t change the orders everyone must abide by to stay home as much as possible and maintain social distancing, but it’s an extra layer of protection that I think is reasonable to add.”
The rationale for covering one’s face comes from the belief that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual, which fabrics may filter. This not only helps to reduce the risk a well person can breathe those droplets in, but also protects others around someone with mild or no symptoms who may not yet realize they have the COVID-19 infection. Face coverings may be worn anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses.
“We must work together to stop the spread and save lives in our County,” said Doctor Levin. “That means that flattening the curve may benefit from another layer of protection against the virus. Consider the additional step to cover your face.” Health officials continue to stress that frequent hand washing, social distancing and staying home are the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Stay in your place, maintain your space and cover your face.
Public Information Officer
County of Ventura, CEO
Office: (805) 654·2640
Mobile: (805) 212·9484
We were asked not to distribute palms to you, as always for health reasons. But...
I have it on good authority that in Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Austria, where there are no palm trees, willow branches are used instead of palms. So I invite you, go into your yard, or with your neighbor’s permission their yard, and find your own worthy substitutes for the palm branches we would have distributed. Bring them to wherever you are going to watch Mass this coming Sunday, 10:00 am. Together, we’ll recall our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the royal city, before we
experience the spiritual whiplash, from praise and glory to deep suffering, proclaimed in the two Gospel readings of the day.
If you happen to have a palm tree in your yard, all the better.
Also, consider wearing red, even at home (and yes, if you’ve been wearing your pajamas to Mass these last weeks, let them be red jammies), as an outward sign of our identification with Jesus, as his disciples, in his greatest act of fidelity and selflessness.
I’ll be with you at 10:00 am.
Love from your priest,