Brothers and Sisters,

Holy Mother Church has so much to offer.

Most importantly, the Church gives us the seven Sacraments as the ordinary means of receiving grace from the Paschal Mystery (that is the life, death, and Resurrection of the Lord).  The seven Sacraments have no equal and no substitute; there is nothing more important in the Christian life than the seven Sacraments.

This year, though, has given us nearly insurmountable challenges in trying to make the Sacraments available to all of the faithful.  We endured more than two months in our Diocese where it was nearly impossible to allow the faithful to attend Mass, receive the Eucharist, even going to Confession was very difficult.

While the parishes are open and offering the Sacraments, we are far from where we had been.  Partly explaining this is the maximum seating capacity limited to fifty-percent, further we know that there are a number of people who feel uncomfortable attending Mass and other liturgies at the Church while the pandemic is ongoing, and we also must recognize that while the bishop has suspended the requirement for baptized Catholics to attend Mass we have to expect that many will choose to stay home.

Here is where I can tell you about the great genius of the Church for times such as these.  Holy Mother Church has been through plagues, wars, and even governments prohibitions on the practice of the Holy Faith (not only in the Roman Empire, but in many other areas throughout Christian history).  The Church has thought through how the faithful can strengthen their practice of the Holy Faith even when they are unable to attend Mass and the Sacraments in times such as these.

For example, when Saint Dominic was beginning his work as he founded the Order of Preachers, he enthralled so many people with his brilliant speeches and homilies.  As he prepared to move on to the next town, the people asked him what they were to do when he was gone – how could they maintain their fervor?  The Rosary was born.

Here’s a short list of only a few sacramentals that, while they certainly are not substitutes for Mass and the Sacraments, they can support and supplement our life in the Holy Faith:  holy water, blest candles, scapular, chaplets (such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet) blest salt, Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, veneration of relics of the saints, prayer before meals, and prayers before bedtime as well as in the morning.

All of these can be done or used all the time.  Again, none of these are a substitute for Mass and the Sacraments, but they can tide us over when we are prohibited from attending Mass during the pandemic.

God be near,

Father Jeremy