March 23, 2020
Watch a video message from Father Au in regards to the church needing to close during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Read the Letter
March 23, 2020
To the Members of our Parish Family,
I write to you once again as we continue to cope with the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. My previous letter was sent to you just prior to the Archbishop’s decision to suspend all public masses and parish gatherings until further notice. Governor Hogan has subsequently decreed that no public gatherings should exceed ten people, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Our parish office has been working with some couples who need to reschedule weddings due to the situation, and the Archdiocese has directed that if it is necessary to schedule any funerals, they are to be limited to immediate family. As we move forward please help us to stay in touch with you by signing up to be on our email list.
Clearly, this is a most trying situation for all of us. It is also a time when we are called to affirm our trust in God’s providence and our commitment to each other as a community of faith. It is a time to remember that in scripture the opposite of faith is not unbelief but fear. It is a time to remember that in scripture the opposite of faith is not unbelief but fear. As Jesus always admonished His friends, “Fear is useless, what is needed is faith!” As St. John reminds us, “love casts out all fear”. It is important that we cooperate with the precautions called for by the civil authorities and the Center for Disease Control. It is also important that we hold each other in prayer, look out for our neighbors who need assistance, and to know that we will once again gather in our beautiful church to worship together.
In the immediate future, however, it appears that for the first time in our experience we will not be able to gather as a community to celebrate Easter. I confess, I never thought such a thing would happen, and I feel, as many of you do, the sense of loss in not being able to celebrate the central mysteries of our faith with the beautiful and moving liturgies that are a part of our tradition. However, even this experience can be embraced in prayer as Holy Week invites us to follow Jesus in his own journey into Darkness, trusting that at the heart of whatever Darkness threatens us we can discover the Light of Divine Love that will dispel the Darkness and offer the healing and renewal our hearts need.
As part of our effort to support each other in prayer through this difficult time we will post some videos on our website and parish Facebook page, @ShrineSacredHeartMtWashington, in which I will offer some homiletic reflections on the scriptures of these last days of Lent and Holy Week. Please check the website, www.theshrine.org, for these postings.
Also, I would appeal to you once again to remember the very serious threat that this time poses to the financial stability of our parish. You are hearing the media reports about the economic toll this pandemic is taking on many businesses and the people facing the loss of jobs. Our parish is also being seriously affected by this situation. With the suspension of weekly masses, we also lose our weekly offertory income. Without this weekly income from you, our parishioners, we face the threat of using up our reserves and being unable to meet operating expenses within the near future. I appeal to you to take seriously this existential threat to our parish’s financial stability and to please continue to give the support you would be giving if you were attending mass. Please mail in your weekly contribution. Or you can go to our website and go to the donate online page, http://theshrine.org/donate, and make your contribution through that. You can also use this Donate page to sign up for electronic giving on a regular basis.
The unprecedented threat we are facing serves to demonstrate how practically important this form of giving can be. We have worked hard to get our parish to a stable financial position, and I can only appeal and count on your loyalty and support to make sure that our parish’s financial viability will not be a victim of the coronavirus. Finally, let us commit ourselves to making this time more than a time of coping with a threatening and negative reality. Let us make it a time of a positive affirmation of what is most important in our lives. Let us make it a time to affirm the love and faith that gives meaning and purpose to life and the strength to struggle on when the familiar routines and structures of daily life fall apart. For in the end that is all we really have. With that faith and love we can rebuild our world every time it falls apart. That is what we must be about doing now.
In Christ’s Peace,