Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Through the experience of the transfiguration of Jesus, we receive a glimpse of the hope to which Jesus will witness. This hope, that comes through the victory of the cross, gives strength to us to persevere in all challenges and to celebrate the graces we receive. The great virtue of hope is also communicated in the Letter of Paul to the Romans: “Christ Jesus it is who died or, rather, was raised who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.”
Peter’s comments, though misguided at that time, are important for us now. Through hindsight we need to celebrate the hope that we experience. There is great hope all around us. Different from Peter’s understanding, we know the victory of the cross and the hope that the cross has brought into the world. Celebrating this hope leads us on to victory over our personal crosses and helps us to support others with their own crosses.
We also recognize that Jesus comes down from the mountain to continue his mission. We too are called to continue our journey. Let us realize that our journey can bring hope to others. Through our family, work, church, and other personal activities, we are called to trust in the hope that we profess. Abraham totally trusts in God’s call. Even though he did not fully understand it at the time, he was obedient to it. Through his unconditional trust he is blessed abundantly. Let us pray for that same trust and commitment to the will of God as Jesus and Abraham exemplify.
As we journey through this season of Lent, we need to start planning for the great celebrations during Holy Week. The diocesan Liturgical Office has provided parishes with guidelines on how to celebrate this coming Holy Week as we cope with this pandemic. Although health guidelines and the church’s response to them can change as people are vaccinated and infection rates decrease, we can now provide some early guidance.
Masses for Palm Sunday will be at the normal Mass times, with the 4:30pm Vigil Mass at Saint James being livestreamed. Palms will be available at these Masses with the request that you only touch the palms that you intend to take. After each Mass, palms will be sprayed with sanitizer. There will also be stations for pick-up outside the church at designated times.
After consultation with both Parish Pastoral Councils, the celebrations of the Easter Triduum will be shared between the parishes. There will be one celebration for each day at one or the other parish. This is to promote a greater celebration and better in-person participation. Holy Thursday Mass and the Good Friday service will be livestreamed for those who want to participate virtually.
Easter Sunday celebrations will follow the Mass schedule as in previous years. Saint Clement will have 9:00am (livestreamed) and 11:00am Mass. Saint James will add an early Mass at 8:30am in addition to the regular 10:30am Mass. There will also be a prerecorded Easter Mass from Saint James available to participate virtually.
I will also be scheduling special times for individual confessions at each church in the weeks before Easter. These will take place in the sanctuary of the Church so that social distancing can be observed, and masks will be required. Respect for privacy is expected by all who come for this sacramental experience. Furthermore, I will be designating days during Easter week to bring Communion to individual homes for those who are watching Mass virtually. Weather permitting, we will meet outside for a simple prayer and reception of Communion.
The month of March has always been a month of energy for me. More daylight, warmer weather, greening of the grass, and the sparks of life seen in the early flowers and the budding of trees all give me energy to refresh my commitment to bring hope to others. Let us take advantage of the energy and hope that we experience this month to make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters.