Pastor’s Column- April 5, 2020

Dear friends,

Bishop Rhoades has given the priests of the diocese permission to offer the Votive Mass for the Sick on those weekdays of Lent without a feast day. I am offering this votive mass once a week for God’s healing grace upon those suffering from Covid-19, those showing symptoms, those in self-isolation, and those feeling the anxiety of this uncertain time of the pandemic. Deacon Vincent, Father John and I continue to remember all of our parishioners in our morning prayer, Mass and evening prayer each day here at the parish.

On Friday, March 27th, Pope Francis granted plenary indulgences to those impacted by COVID-19. The Pope stood on a stage in front of an empty St. Peter’s Basilica, as he held a special Urbi et Orbi message (To the City and the World), usually reserved for Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. After a lector sung the gospel passage from Mark 4:35-41, of the apostles fearful in the boat being tossed by the violent waves on the Sea of Galilee, Pope Francis
reminded the faithful in his homily, “We have an anchor: by His Cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by
His Cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by His Cross we have been healed and embraced so that
nothing and no one can separate us from His redeeming love.” This message resonates so powerfully for all of us,
including you, our lay collaborates, who are part of the CSC family, in light of the motto of the Congregation of
Holy Cross, “Ave Crux, Spes Unica – Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope.”

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Pope Francis asks us, as did Jesus asked the apostles in the boat. Francis then assures us, “Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us’ (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).”

Pope Francis is offering a plenary indulgence for various groups of people affected by the coronavirus: for those who are ill with Covid-19, for health care workers and family members caring for those ill with Covid-19, for those who offer prayer for an end to the pandemic, and those at the point of death unable to receive Anointing of the Sick or Viaticum. A plenary indulgence removes all “temporal punishment” associated with sins forgiven in this life.

As Pope St. John Paul II explained, sins are forgiven through the sacrament of penance, but there is a kind of “punishment” still due the sinner. God’s fatherly love “does not exclude chastisement, even though this always should be understood in the context of a merciful justice which reestablishes the order violated,” he said. John
Paul explained that the “temporal” punishment remaining after forgiveness is a grace aimed at wiping away the “residues of sin,” offering the reformed sinner the chance of complete healing through “a journey of purification” that can take place in this life or in purgatory. By God’s grace, participation in a prayer or action that has an indulgence attached to it brings about the necessary restoration and reparation without the suffering that would normally accompany it. An indulgence is the result of the abundance of God’s mercy, which he offers to humanity through Jesus Christ and through the church, Pope John Paul explained.

For information on the plenary indulgence offered during the pandemic, please visit the diocesan website , where you will find the necessary steps to be taken in order to receive this plenary indulgence. Please be especially aware of this if you or a loved one is ill with Covid-19, are caring for someone with the virus, or are facing death. Be assured of my prayer that remains with you during this challenging time. As Pope Francis reminds us, we have a hope: the Cross through which we are healed and embraced so that nothing can separate us from God’s redeeming love.

In Christ,
Father Jim