Sunday 3rd May 2020
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. It is called “Good Shepherd” Sunday. It is also a day set aside to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The Responsorial psalm today is the famous Psalm 22 where God is described as a shepherd. One sentence from the psalm today should give comfort to all of us whose lives have been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic: “If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and staff with these you give me comfort” These are confusing days for many Catholics. They have been told from birth that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the faith. In school, they have been warned that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass, that “fulfilling the Sunday obligation” is a primary way of living the faith. Now to hear that it is not necessary during these days to attend Mass in church or to receive the Eucharist is bewildering. We priests are also finding these days disorientating. We are powerless in the face of this pandemic. Many, like those in the business world, are consumed by anxiety over parish finances and are beset by the uncertainty of when they will be able to resume Church services again with the community gathered around them. We answered God’s call to serve His people - yet these days we are prevented from doing so fully because of this pandemic. We are a stubbornly incarnational church, and we know that the body, touch, gesture, communal togetherness all matter enormously. And actually, receiving the body and blood of Jesus is infinitely greater than watching Mass on a screen. Live-streamed Masses and virtual faith sharing groups are no substitute for our communal celebration of the Mass. We are called not to be spectators at Mass but we are participants in the act of Eucharist itself. It’s not that streaming Mass is a bad thing, but it’s such a diminished experience when we cannot physically gather. Of course watching Mass on a screen is the best we can do under the present circumstances for now. These things are fine during the interim. We just shouldn’t get used to them. When we cannot express our faith through our most central shared act of worship, we can and should look to our own salvation history for guidance. We might think of ourselves as entering into solidarity with the Jewish people during the Babylonian captivity. Exiled from their homeland, their temple destroyed and sacrifice at the altar no longer possible, the Jewish community drew spiritual nourishment and practical guidance from the word. Our own Liturgy of the Word, in which we listen to the Scriptures and reflect upon what these passages might mean for our contemporary circumstances, is a direct fruit of the Jewish people’s resilience during a time of crisis and unfailing reliance on God’s ability to continue to sanctify the community, even without access to the temple. We draw inspiration, too, from the early Christian communities who gathered in homes to break open the Word of God, offer up petitions and share the Eucharistic meal. I know that parents are sitting down with children to watch online Masses today and helping them to understand the importance of what is happening on the screen. That is as it should be because parents are the most important teachers of their children in the ways of faith - even when there is no home-schooling!! At Baptism the priest prays for the parents in these words: “He and his wife will be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. May they be also the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There are web sites from the US that have resources to help their child to understand what is going on in the celebration of Mass on the screen. e.g (google: https://worship.pastoral.center) We are living our faith in the world of today. This pandemic is our present challenge, and it is unprecedented. It is not up to us to conquer this illness, but at most just to slow its spread. Our part, instead, is to rise to the occasion, whatever happens. Every day is a discreet battle against doubt and discouragement. It is important in exceptional times not to let oneself go, but to keep believing in the Good Shepherd who is with us and is saying to us today in the Gospel: “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10)
Pope Francis on this Vocation Sunday has a simple message for us all, he said: Dear friends, on this day in particular, but also in the ordinary pastoral life of our communities, I ask the Church to continue to promote vocations. May she touch the hearts of the faithful and enable each of them to discover with gratitude God’s call in their lives, to find courage to say “yes” to God, to overcome all weariness through faith in Christ, and to make of their lives a song of praise for God, for their brothers and sisters, and for the whole world. (8 March 2020) If anyone is interested in being a Passionist priest or brother please get in touch with Fr. Paul Francis in Mount Argus Dublin. (Phone 003531 4992059)
Thanks for all your donations and prayers. You are constantly in our prayers. We enter now into May - Mary’s month - may our Mother who stood at the foot of the Cross bless us with hope and peace during these difficult days of “lockdown”. Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay secure. Stay sure of the fact that no virus will ever separate you from the love and mercy of Christ Jesus. Fr. Charles C.P.
Standing Order Form Link attached HERE. Please note if you complete a form please return it to your own bank.
Guild Mass Cards: We have Deceased, Mass Bouquets, Get Well, Birthday, Special Occasion, Thinking of You & Exam Mass Bouquets which cost £2 / €2.50 each.
The Anniversary Masses for Saturday Vigil & Sunday will be celebrated privately by the priests here.
Barney Gilligan, Lisnaskea
Margaret Monaghan, Clogher
Jimmy Sheerin, Whitehill, Springfield
Elizabeth Mc Brearty, Ederney
Margaret Connor, Kinarla Park, Enniskillen
Charles Mc Hugh, Drumma, Boho
Maisie Boyle, Fintona
Francis & Lily Slevin, Killyvilly, Enniskillen