So do not
worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today’s trouble is enough for today. – Matthew 6.34
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The words of our Saviour quoted above aren’t a command to carefree disregard for the future, but a call to trust in God’s providence. Worrying is a way for us to cope with difficult, uncertain situations, but excessive worry is debilitating. What our Lord intended in his counsel is the practice of self-control with the help of grace; to not become engrossed in the world’s obsessions, opinions and debates. These are not inconsequential, but the foundation of our spiritual life and psychological health is not the latest expert assessment, political commentary or celebrity opinion, it is our faith in God who we know through Jesus Christ.
I had hoped by this time to be writing to you of the impending recommencement of regular parish activities of worship, study and fellowship. A letter was drafted and a mailing prepared for the week of May 17 in expectation of an announcement from the diocese that we would be actively organizing for a reopening of the parish facilities in June. However, I have been disappointed in this hope.
As the last letter from me was in Holy Week, I am writing to you now as I do not want communications to become so infrequent that our sense of connection is lost. I do know that many of you visit our website, staugustinesparish.ca, but that is not the practice of most—a letter through the mail is still the most effective means of reaching everyone.
What I can tell you at this point is that the office, that is the administrative building of the parish complex will reopen first, and likely in mid-June, with worship in the church a few weeks after; the parish centre will be last to open. Changes will be made to our cleaning regimen, office protocol and liturgical practices so as to conform to sanitary requirements.
Among the changes will be:
- New Mass times—Saturday 5 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. – please note the change of time for the later Sunday Mass) This will allow for some cleaning, including washrooms, between masses. If we cannot find enough volunteers, it will be an expense to bring in cleaners.
- While I am not happy about segregating segments of
our worshiping community, I ask seniors and those with compromised immunity
only attend the following masses: Saturday 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. I also ask
families with school age children to only attend the Sunday, 9 a.m. Mass. Youth
of the parish who serve at the altar are exempt from this restriction as they
worship from the sanctuary. Anyone who is ill, or experiencing cold or flu
symptoms are not to come to the Mass.
- Our pews may be labelled for seating in alternate rows. Should this be implemented, look for signage to indicate where to sit.
- It may be necessary to add additional masses if numbers warrant. Your patience will be appreciated as we sort out any changes to the liturgical schedule.
- We will regretfully suspend all-day Eucharistic Adoration for the balance of 2020. Instead, I will look for discrete occasions when the necessary sanitisation protocols can be observed in conjunction with parishioners being in the church for prolonged periods of time (e.g. in Advent, adoration and benediction could be done with a praying of the evening office over the course of an hour).
- Hymnals and other books and printed materials will be removed from the pews. The Order of the Mass, and the hymns will be printed on sheets to be disposed of after individual use (so, nothing to be left in the pew at the end of mass; take it home or drop it in the blue bin). Other reading materials in public areas of our facilities (church, parish centre and parish office) have been removed. Any groups or individuals using books, or other materials (e.g. for Bible studies) may not leave these on campus. Only books and other printed materials for immediate sale and/or distribution will be allowed (e.g. Living with Christ and The Word Among Us can be left out for ‘pick up’ and then personal use).
- Further measures may yet be taken. If you have any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions, please feel able to contact the parish offices to convey them to myself, or our parish minister, Patricia Anderson.
On a brighter note, for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord (Corpus Christi), the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in an outdoor pavilion Sunday, June 14 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. following an 8:30 a.m. private mass. The custom of the Church is for a procession, but that cannot be done under current restrictions. I encourage you to come, either during the hour when you would ordinarily attend mass or in the afternoon, and on arrival to follow the directions given so that we conform to distancing requirements. In this instance, we will process past our Lord in the Eucharist.
God bless and keep you this day and always.
Your servant in Christ,