My dear parishioners:
With the reality of the COVID-19 crisis upon us, I draw your attention to the March 17th letter from Cardinal Collins which is pinned/posted on the homepage of our website. I urge you to take the time to read this letter, which he wrote after consulting with the Episcopal Board of the Archdiocese of Toronto. In the letter he outlines how the crisis will immediately impact the spiritual practices of all parishes of the Archdiocese. This letter makes for very sober reading, particularly when he outlines the suspension of most sacramental celebrations, including the celebration of both the Sunday and weekday masses.
As a people of faith, and as members the Roman Catholic Church, which is very much a sacramental church, this will be a time of great hardship for all of us. For we are a people who understand the need to gather together, to celebrate together, to worship together, and pray together. We understand that our faith is both personal, and most importantly, communal. How it will hurt to be unable to come together in worship as a community for an unknown length of time.
This crisis continues to unfold in a myriad of ways. We have no idea as to when it will end or what the long-term social, economic and political ramifications will be. The thought of this can be utterly overwhelming. So I ask that you consider the example of faith and inspiration shown to us by our Blessed Mother Mary and her spouse, St. Joseph, during these difficult days that lie ahead. We see in the gospels of Sts. Matthew and Luke that Mary and Joseph often encountered unexpected developments that would change them forever This would culminate with the need to flee their homeland and settle as refugees for many years in Egypt, all the while trying to raise their son, Jesus (Matthew 2: 13-15) Despite all the setbacks, all the challenges, they trusted that the hand of God would be very present in their lives and would ultimately would guide them to safety.
So what can we do now while we are unable to gather in worship, and are asked to stay home, to stay safe, and in some cases, to self-isolate? Here are some suggestions:
1) I urge to you to continue to reach out to others you may know that are alone and isolated. Please be, as St. Teresa of Avila said, the hands, the feet and the heart of Jesus to others. While in these days we are being asked to physically separate ourselves from others, we have a greater need than ever to socially connect with others. One way to do so is to call at least 3 people each day to see how they are doing.
2) Stay in touch with our parish community via our website, www.myparish.org On the site you will find continuous updates, as well as daily reflections, weekly homilies and other helpful links.
3) In his letter of March 17th, the Cardinal also provides information for both online and televised celebrations of daily mass and Sunday mass. Please take the time to prayerfully watch and participate.
4) Cardinal Collins has asked his priests, including myself, offer private masses each day. I will do so, and if you have any particular prayers you wish me to remember on a particular day, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
5) The Archdiocese of Toronto, along with its regular website, www.archtoronto.org , has established a special site for this crisis, www.archtoronto.org/covid19
6) As you pray, whether in our church or at home or at work, please pray for ourselves, our families, our parish, our church, our country, and our world. We hope, we pray, and we trust that one day this crisis will pass. I trust that all of you look forward with me in eager anticipation to that wonderful day in the near future, when we will once again be free to celebrate the Sunday and weekday masses. What a beautiful time that will be!
Until we gather again, may God bless you!
Peace and prayers, Fr. Michael Machacek.