Dear Padre Serra Parishioners,
I have both deeply saddening news about the coronavirus, and challenging and hopeful news about our parish reopening.
As you may have heard, our beloved country passed the 100,000 count today for those who have died of the coronavirus. The parish bells tolled for them today at 4:05 pm after I heard that announcement. I ask you to pray with me now:
Gracious and merciful God, look with kindness on all who have died of this scourge throughout the world. Give them your forbearance, and grant them a place in your eternal kingdom, where Lazarus, who once was poor, suffers no more. Comfort the hearts of all who have lost a loved family member or friend.
May they find themselves strengthened by belief in your eternal plan for us. Help us to find a cure or vaccine, quickly, that will lift the weight of this virus from all our shoulders. We ask everything in the name of Jesus, our Lord, may he live and reign, forever, in our hearts. Amen.
Reopening of churches: With the governor’s announcement, allowing the re-opening of churches, Archbishop Gomez has given us a number of guidelines and steps to achieve before we can begin having Mass again at Padre Serra. I will be sending an update this next week. There are too many questions left unanswered to be certain when Mass will begin, but it will certainly be within the next month. The archbishop is not permitting Masses this weekend.
Live-streaming: The archbishop is continuing to lift the obligation on attending Mass, with no end date. We will continue to broadcast a live, on-line Mass for all those who need or choose to maintain their distance. In fact, it is our intention to keep on live-streaming the parish liturgy after the crisis passes as a continuous service to our home-bound parishioners.
We need volunteers: The new guidelines require volunteers for some of the new safety and health requirements. In the words of the archbishop, “High risk individuals (e.g., people who are 65 and older, who are immunocompromised or who have underlying health conditions) should be discouraged from serving in any capacity that brings them into contact with others.” With that in mind I ask any parishioner of high school age or older, who is not health compromised, to consider assisting us in one of the following ways:
If you can assist in any of these tasks, please email Jane, our receptionist, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be as specific as you are able with your availability, contact information, concerns and which tasks you are open to undertaking.
Reconciliation / confessions are immediately permitted: I am happy to say that I will be available for drop by confessions this Friday and Saturday, May 29th and 30th, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm with the following guidelines:
Parishioners may also schedule confessions with my assistant, Barbara (email@example.com).
These times are challenging, but I am very hopeful for the future. Please, please, please – as our community opens up, maintain all the healthy protocols to maintain your health!
Also visit: Regarding COVID-19 at Padre Serra
Pope Francis invites Catholic communities around the world to celebrate Laudato Si’ week from May 16 to May 24, 2020. At noon, your local time, on 24 May, say this prayer.
Also visit: laudatosiweek.org
Some of you have asked how to enter the moment of Communion, when our current circumstances make it impossible for you to receive. The centuries-long practice of making a spiritual, rather than physical, communion while sick certainly applies here. The essence of it, as St. Thomas Aquinas puts it, is to express “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in communion at Mass, and to lovingly embrace him as if we had actually received him” I have a few options for you to consider. The first, which allows you a lot of freedom to say what you need to the Lord, is good for those whose words come easy to them. Some more traditional versions give a tried and true approach for those for whom that’s helpful. Be free to do what you want here…so long as you do something at that moment.
Four worthy steps for a deep spiritual communion, to do in your own words:
A traditional spiritual communion suggested by Pope Francis (only slightly altered by me):
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire you with all my heart. Since I cannot receive you now sacramentally, I ask you to come into my heart spiritually. I embrace you as if you were already in my heart, and unite myself to you completely. Please do not ever let me be far from you. (St. Alphonse Liguori, (1696-1787)
A spiritual communion suggested by Archbishop Gomez:
I wish, my Lord, to receive you with the purity, humility, and devotion with which your most holy Mother received you, with the spirit and fervor of the saints.
The prayer (taken from Matt 8:6) in the Mass just before Communion can be enough:
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
A final suggestion from me is to pray Psalm 63, vv. 2-9:
O God, you are my God — it is you I seek!
For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts,
In a land parched, lifeless, and without water.
I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life, my lips shall ever praise you!
I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.
My soul shall be sated, as with choice food, with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!
I think of you upon my bed, I remember you through the watches of the night
You indeed are my savior and, in the shadow of your wings, I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.
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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.
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,
Life may have kept you from attending Holy Week services in the past. This might be the year for you to do a deep spiritual dive into Holy Week, either by watching our lifestream or by viewing the services at a time that best works for you. Keep God at the heart of things.
You can also watch Mass on YouTube at www.youtube.com/psptv/live
Please subscribe to the parish YouTube channel.
The holiest week of the year. Take part in one or all of these liturgies and devotions as we travel to the hope of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
At this time, Fr. Patrick offers Psalm 91:
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the Lord for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.
Because he clings to me I will deliver him;
because he knows my name I will set him on high.
He will call upon me and I will answer;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and give him honor.
With length of days I will satisfy him,
and fill him with my saving power.
Also visit: PSP/COVID-19
Regarding COVID-19 / the current novel coronavirus and Padre Serra Parish
Many of you have sent me emails regarding COVID-19, the current coronavirus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently evaluates the risk of people living in the United States, at this time (5:30 pm on 3/6/20), as being low. That might change, but we’ll do best if we evaluate the risks calmly and act in reasonable ways.
I would like to make the following suggestions:
- First, if at any time you feel ill, please remain at home. Do not come to church, work, or sports or send your children to school. To be clear, do not come to Mass while sick. Stay home, watch Mass on TV, and recover before returning.
- Wash your hands, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds of vigorous washing and avoid touching your face.
- We will temporarily suspend the reception of Communion from the chalice. We will return to our normal practice as soon as it is deemed reasonably safe.
- I ask that all those who receive Holy Communion on the tongue, to temporarily receive in the hand. If the minister’s hand touches anyone’s tongue or lips, that minister has to immediately step away from distributing communion any further.
- Instead of holding hands at the Our Father, let’s simply hold our hands up in a prayerful position.
- At the sign of peace, let’s offer each other, along with the prayer for peace, the warmest smiles, and the kindliest, respectful bows.
- After Mass, for the time being, I’ll still be outside to greet you, but no hugs or handshakes.
Good Friday is a most solemn day for all Christians. Catholics have a powerful liturgical service that takes us deep into the mystery of the passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In silence the clergy process in and lie prostrate around the altar as we begin. A beautiful and moving sung rendition of St. John’s Gospel account of the crucifixion is proclaimed followed by a solemn presentation of a wooden cross “on which hung the Savior of the world.”
The assembly then processes to the cross to kiss or touch it in an act of veneration. The service continues with the distribution of Holy Communion. All depart in silence. The cross is displayed in the church throughout the afternoon for those who wish to visit and pray.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins with the Presentation of the Holy Oils consecrated by our archbishop, Jose Gomez, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at the Chrism Mass the previous Monday. The Oil of the Sick will be used to anoint those who suffer illness. The Oil of the Catechumens will be used to anoint those preparing for baptism. The Sacred Chrism, oil mixed with sweet perfume, will be used to anoint the baptized who are to be sealed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
The Scripture readings at this mass take us from the Exodus story of Israel’s preparations for the flight from Egypt to the Last Supper with Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and telling us to do the same. In obedience we wash one another’s feet (the “Mandatum”), we celebrate the Eucharist, and we process with the Body of Christ from the church to the Altar of Repose in the Serra Center where we can spend time in prayerful reflection and in adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Also visit: Triduum
The liturgies of Palm Sunday begin with the celebration of the Lord’s triumphal messianic entry into Jerusalem to the acclaim of crowds shouting “Hosanna!” We gather in the courtyard to hear the proclamation of the Gospel account of this event. Palms are blessed and distributed, followed by a procession into the church.
Palms are an ancient symbol of victory and Catholics often display the palms, received this Sunday, on a crucifix in their homes. The Hebrew word Hosanna means “(O Lord) grant salvation” but it has become an acclamation of jubilation and welcome.
Once inside the church, the focus shifts to Jesus’ suffering and death as we hear the proclamation of his Passion from the Gospel of Mark this year. We celebrate the Eucharist with Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper still echoing in our minds and hearts.
Photos by Julius Acero
Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday," is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. In the past, people would clean out their cupboards, removing all the sugar, fat, and lard to prepare for the forty days of fasting ahead. Here at Padre Serra, we share a delicious dinner or dessert and talk about what we will do as a family to draw closer to Jesus this Lent.
Also visit: Children, Lent
Due to the rain Taco Tuesday is next week, March 17.
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