SOME INSPIRING WORDS FROM OUR BISHOP:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As anxiety and concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19 takes root throughout this land and so much of the world, the Lord is speaking to us, calling us to a deeper relationship with him. This age may seem to be a time of fear and isolation, but we have an opportunity to see it in a new light, as a retreat into the desert with Our Lord and to encounter God in solitude and prayer. As Psalm 91 says: “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that prowls in the darkness, nor the scourge that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand fall at your right, you it will never approach; his faithfulness is buckler and shield.”…. As a suspension of all public celebrations of Mass, on Sundays, holy days and weekdays in the Diocese of Richmond takes place, and as the days grow longer and the light of spring begins to shine, opening our eyes to the goodness of God, I invite all the faithful in their homes and in the solitude of their hearts to draw close to Christ our light in prayer and interior desire for the Lord who dwells within our hearts– asking for the grace of forgiveness, recovery of our spiritual sight and of an awakening of desire for God to be strengthened within us.
This weekend, during a private celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and in the midst of our Jubilee year, I will celebrate Mass without a congregation, asking God’s grace and forgiveness, consecrating our diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate heart of Mary. So that you may join me in this moment, it will be streamed live for the faithful.
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A MESSAGE FROM FR. GREGORY:
It’s important for us to keep our perspective in the midst of all these announcements from civil and church authorities. The precautions we are instructed to follow should not induce panic. They do not mean that we are all going to die. They are simply measures so that the virus can be contained. Keep in mind also, that, whereas there have been some fatalities from this virus, far more people have recovered. So these measures are in place so that hospitals do not get glutted and thus impact the quality of care that can be given to those with the virus.
In the Mass we hear Jesus say to us every time we gather around the table, “This is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant…” Jesus has bound Himself to us through a new covenant. He is faithful, He will never abandon us, He is always with us. As the Preface for the First Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation prays to God our Father, “ You have bound the human family to yourself through Jesus your Son, our Redeemer, with a new bond of love so tight that it can never be undone.”
In our first reading for today’s Mass, the Third Sunday of Lent, the question the Israelites posed was, “Is the Lord with us, or not?” All of our Scriptures today give testimony that the answer to that question is yes, He is with us. That is why His name is Emanuel, which means “God with us”. He was with the Israelites in the desert and gave them water from the rock. As Saint Paul says in our second reading, in his letter to the Romans, God has poured out His love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. He proves His love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And to a woman who is ostracized, broken, and alone, Jesus offers the gift of living water. The Lord who would not abandon this woman to her loneliness and marginalization is certainly not going to abandon us.
Scammers and hackers remain busy amidst the current situation! This week, the newest rash of attempts include pleas from a “General” of the U.S. Military asking for gold bars or money, another round of fake minister accounts (although not ours) asking for gift cards to be sent to the fake email, and one that included a logo for the department of health with a link that if clicked, downloaded malware. Please stay vigilant and do not reply to such emails, click on links within those emails, or download content in them. If you receive help requests, verify that the person is legitimate by calling them directly on another known valid number. Don’t ask the emailer for information or a call because most likely it is a fake email account. Find an offline method of correspondence that you and that person have used in the past to talk with each other. We pray for your continued health and safety during this time!