6th Sunday of Easter (May 17, 2020)
Psalm 66: 1-7,16,20
1 Peter 3:15-18
I have been struggling a lot lately. The more I talk to others, the more I realize it is not just me. Many of us are getting tired, anxious, annoyed… some of us are getting depressed and desperate. It seems like the biggest reason this is happening is because of two things: 1. Mixed messages on what to believe regarding anything Covid 19 related and, 2. Mental exhaustion from waiting to see what is going to happen next.
We were told 2.1 million Americans would die from this virus. Now it is closer to 100,000. Do not wear a mask because they are ineffective became everyone needs to wear a mask. Do not gather in groups of more than 50, no make that 20, or rather 10. That turned into a “stay at home” order. Schools were closed but do not worry, they will open back up in the fall, unless they do not. People were laid off and given unemployment assistance. Now we are hearing that many still have not received any money because the system is overwhelmed with claims. We were told to “flatten the curve” to slow down the virus spread so our hospitals would not be overwhelmed. Now many of our hospitals are sitting empty while millions of dollars went wasted on unused facilities built specifically to handle the overflow of patients that never occurred. We are told that we will be ok once a vaccine is made… but that could take another year or two or three. If that were not enough to stress us out… then came the “murder hornets!”
Let me be the first to say that I am very thankful that I am not in charge of making any of these decisions. Our President, the State Governors and all those in charge have had to deal with something that is new to all of us. Only time will tell how well they responded to this situation. So, do not take what I just said as me whining or complaining that I could do it better. I am just pointing out how mentally exhausting this entire pandemic has become. It seems to have put everyone on edge.
We all long for the day when we can go outside and enjoy life again without the restrictions. Someone on Facebook recently asked, “What are you most excited about doing once the lockdown is over?” My wife wrote, “Wentz, party of 8. Your table is ready!” We miss going to restaurants as a family treat. We miss the smell of fresh popcorn while watching the newest movie at the theater. We miss giving a hug to a friend or shaking someone’s hand. We miss playing sports at a local park. There are so many things that we want to do right now but cannot.
Restaurants, movies, and hugs are nice… but after 10 weeks of watching Mass online… is anyone out there excited to return to Church? I was so excited when we heard our Governor announce the reopening of churches here in Kentucky. Then I waited in anticipation for the Kentucky Bishops to meet and discuss how we can all safely worship together once again. Then on May 11, the anticipated email arrived.
By now, everyone registered here at St. Andrew and St. Mary should have received a copy of these procedures in the mail along with a letter from Fr. Al and Deacon Richard. Please, please take the time to read it carefully. There are many changes that are being implemented. The sole purpose of these procedures is to try and make it safer for people to attend Mass during this pandemic.
The most important thing to understand is that even though you will be allowed to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist again soon, you are still not required to attend. Bishop John, along with all the US Bishops, has extended the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. This means you may still watch online without any of that “Catholic guilt.” So, if you feel uncomfortable attending church in person, it is ok to stay home. We will still live stream the 11am Sunday Mass here on our Facebook page for those interested in that option.
The next major issue to handle is limiting Mass attendance to 33% of capacity. If we reach our limit, nobody else will be allowed to enter the building. No exceptions. That is why we have included in that mailing instructions on how to preference which Mass you will be attending. If you did not receive the letter, call the church office this week. Again, read the entire mailing carefully as soon as possible!
As we have learned with most things by now, things will be a little different when Mass resumes next week. We are creatures of habit and do not like change.
However, our faith has stood strong for 2,000 years and will continue to stand strong in spite of these challenging times.
Remember… All these changes, all the uncertainty, all the mixed messages we hear in the media… but one thing remains unchanged.
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel from John, “I will not leave you orphans.” God is always with us. His presence can be felt… but sometimes in order to feel it, we need to turn off all the noise.
When you feel overwhelmed, afraid, or anxious… Put down your phone. Turn off the news.
Stop… breathe in God’s love… pray.
Feel the Holy Spirit.
Because with God, nobody is ever alone!