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Letters To The Congregation

Hold Tightly to Our Faith

March 25, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Peace and all good things to you!

As I write this letter, it is March 25th – the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord; the day the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she was to be the Mother of God. The gospel reading for this feast tells us Mary was greatly troubled at what was said to her. But the angel continued: “Do not be afraid, Mary for the power of God’s love and care will over-shadow you.”

I suspect that many of us are feeling the same way that Mary did; overwhelmed, questioning, fearful. We need to hear the same reassurance that God is with us and will help us.

How quickly the events and circumstances in our lives can change! Four weeks ago, we began our Lenten journey. At that time, none of us dreamed that these traditional days would take such a drastic turn. Now we find ourselves experiencing what for most of us is a once in a lifetime situation as we contend with the Coronavirus pandemic. In light of that, our emotions probably change from hour to hour ranging from anxiety about our own health and our loved ones to “cabin fever” and perhaps some anger and resentment that this is really happening.

Woven into all of this is our faith and the presence of God in our lives. A sentence in the 23rd Psalm comes to mind: “Even though I walk through the valley of darkness, I fear no evil for you are at my side and with your rod and your staff that give me courage.” I have no doubt that all of us in our own ways have been doing a lot of praying during this difficult time.

As a Catholic community, this situation has been made all the more painful by the fact that all Sunday and weekday Masses have been suspended through Holy Week and Easter. The Eucharist as we all know is the source and summit of our Catholic Christian life and all of our sacraments and prayers as well as our daily lives are bound up in its celebration. To not have the wonderful gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood especially during the most holy week of the year and on Easter itself is an intense disappointment and a huge void in our lives.

However, given the current facts and guidance that the medical community is providing about the extreme seriousness of the virus and its ability to spread, impels us to take this profound step. Consequently, if we are going to suspend the celebration of the Eucharist we cannot then continue with other areas of our pastoral ministry and parish activities as if everything is fine.

At a time like this, Jesus’ great command to love and protect one another is paramount and takes precedent. It is a powerful act of charity, love and a moral imperative to do everything possible to keep one another safe and healthy.

We all need God’s help and protection during a time like this, but how do you pray when you can’t come to Church? One way is to truly make our homes a “Domestic Church”. Our dwelling places become sacred spaces when we make Christ present through our prayer and the many ways that we care for one another. How true are Jesus’ words – “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the St. Martin of Tours Church and School “A Century of Caring; A Legacy of Faith” midst of them.” And, “What you do for my brothers and sisters you do for me.” This spirit of “Church” in our homes is intensified when we blend in a good dose of patience, gentleness and forgiveness especially when we are starting to get on each other’s nerves!

Many suggestions about how to occupy our time during these weeks of confinement are being presented in the media. We have a gift of time that many are not use to having. How about deepening that sense of “Church” in our own families by praying together? The beautiful custom of praying the Rosary as a family could be revived or started for the first time. There is a peaceful cadence of the Our Fathers and Hail Marys as we ask the Mother of God and our Mother to help us. Praying together before our meals in gratitude for God’s protection and nourishment helps us to make more present the sacredness of God being with us in our home.

In addition to our families, let’s pray for one another as members of St. Martin of Tours Parish. I have found it helpful personally to do this by taking our Parish Directory and starting with the first page and pray each day for ten or fifteen people/families. Perhaps that might prompt a phone call, e-mail or even a handwritten note to someone we want to remember in a special way. May we include too in our prayers the many people throughout the world who are seriously ill with the Coronavirus that God will bless them with restored health. In the same spirit, we pray for the multitude of health care providers. They are truly the hands and hearts of God’s healing.

Also, to the best of our ability, we can continue our Lenten practices. We are all doing some very serious fasting by all the events and activities that we are giving up. The Black Book that we distributed on Ash Wednesday can continue to provide us with some good meditations.

As we all know, a world-wide crisis has a powerful ripple-effect on a multitude of people. Many of our parishioners and neighbors have been laid-off and the lives of the poor and homeless are further compromised. Our dedicated St. Vincent de Paul Conference is continuing its compassionate outreach during these challenging weeks while following health protocols. If they can assist you or someone you know, contact them at 513-661-0085.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis is united with us as Italy is in the throes of the virus. He asks us to join him in prayer for an end to the pandemic and “to offer small simple gestures of prayer and concern to those closest to us and to all God’s people throughout the world”.

We are all hurting, but this is when we help one another hold tightly to our faith and hope in the Easter message. Jesus’ passion and suffering always leads to the Resurrection and the healing blessings of Spring.

Please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of our Pastoral Team and Parish Staff. We are so looking forward to celebrating the Eucharist once again as a parish family.
You also have a personal remembrance in the quiet Mass that I am celebrating these Lenten days.

Let us pray for one another….

God’s Blessings,

Fr. Terry
Rev. Terence J. Hamilton, Pastor

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