Back to Ordinary Time

06-07-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

With last Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost, we brought the Easter season to a close. The Church now reenters the season she calls ‘Ordinary Time.’ The official reason for this name is the fact that its weeks are ‘ordered’ – meaning they follow a certain order. This past week was the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, and this coming week be the Ninth.

But I find it helpful to see Ordinary Time – when we’re not focusing on special seasons like Advent or Lent or Christmas or Easter – as a time to remember that we serve God best by living our faith in the midst of ordinary, everyday life. Being patient with those around us. Performing acts of charity within our means. Finding time for prayer in the midst of a busy day. Striving to see Christ in the people with whom we interact with each day. Serving God in these ‘ordinary’ ways is our true path to holiness in life.

One of the best things about serving God in this way is that we can do it even at times like this – when life is anything but ordinary! We can show patience with the family we are around more than normal due to the shutdown of so many things. We can pray from our homes when we can’t come to Church. We can strive to see Christ in those whose decisions we might not always agree with in these difficult times. Indeed, in these anything but ordinary times, there are ordinary ways that we can practice our Faith and grow in holiness.

Speaking of this, I just got word that we will return to public Mass next weekend – June 13–14th! Of course, things will be a bit different than usual. Due to the continued need for social distancing, the Church can only be filled to 30% of its usual capacity. Moreover, those in attendance will have to wear a mask (except for small children) and sanitize their hands upon arrival. The distribution of Holy Communion will be very different and will be explained clearly at that weekend’s Masses. Cry Rooms will have to be limited to no more than one family.

Due to the 30% restriction, it will be necessary for those wishing to attend Holy Mass next weekend to call the Parish Office to reserve a space. I know this sounds crazy – but at the moment it’s the best I can do. Please be patient. We don’t mind making reservations to eat a really good restaurant. So, we shouldn’t mind – in these extraordinary times – making a reservation for the most sacred and holy meal of all: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! Keep in mind that this is not forever – just until the restrictions allow us a bigger crowd at Church.

With that in mind, please consider attending the less crowded Masses. My guess is that reservations for the 11 AM and 4:30 PM Masses will fill up very quickly. Also keep in mind that – at this point – no one is required to attend Holy Mass. Our bishop continues to grant a dispensation for all those who are unable – or not yet comfortable – coming to a public Mass. Prudence dictates that those whose age or medical condition make them ‘high risk’ should avoid large gatherings like Mass for the time being – as much as they may want to come. Believe me, our Lord most truly understands!

By this time, all Liturgical Ministers – lectors, ushers, extraordinary ministers, altar servers, and acolytes – should have received a letter from me about things to consider in returning to your ministries when we get back to public Mass. If you have not, please contact Nancy at the parish office. She will make sure you get one.

As you know, I usually return to the seminary to make my required five - day priest retreat in mid – June. The seminary informed us that this year’s retreat, scheduled for the week of June 15–19, will be done via zoomed or virtual talks! This means that, rather than going to Emmitsburg for the retreat as I usually do, I will remain in the rectory, tune in to the talks, and spend more time than usual in prayer and spiritual reading. While I won’t be able to visit Mother Seton’s shrine to pray for your intentions as I usually do at her tomb, I will be happy to spend extra time that week praying for any special intentions you have. Just send them to the parish office.

Like so much else this year, my retreat won’t be the same – but we’ll do the best we can. With God’s help, it will still be a time of renewal and grace. Please remember to pray a Hail Mary for me today, and every day. Please also pray for a healing of tensions and end to the violent protests that have rocked so many of our nation’s cities. One even took place right outside of Fr. Pat’s residence in New York (he and the other Franciscans there are fine… and Fr. Pat looks forward to being with us for Mass as soon as he can). A prayer for such healing is printed elsewhere in this bulletin! You are all in my daily Rosaries, Masses, and prayers!

Have a great week!

Fr. John