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Archives: May 2020
6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
IN THE YEAR OF SALVATION TWO THOUSAND TWENTY
MAY 17, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Two weeks ago, I communicated with you that the bishops of Minnesota had decided to ask our parishes to plan and prepare for the opening of public Masses May 18, based on the indicated expiration date of Governor Walz’s Stay-at-Home order. At the same time, the bishops proactively engaged public officials about the importance of some limited opening of our churches for Mass. A plan to resume public Masses in a limited manner on May 18—but only in places where parishes were willing and ready to follow a prescribed set of sanitization protocols—was submitted May 8 to the governor for feedback. Four Lutheran denominations joined our letter to Governor Walz. A number of other denominations and independent churches submitted plans May 8, as well.
To our disappointment, the governor and his administration have not yet engaged in dialogue with us on our proposal. While easing the Stay-at-Home order May 13, the governor’s new Stay Safe Minnesota executive order explicitly prohibited faith-based gatherings with more than ten unrelated people. We are hopeful, however, because Governor Walz has called meetings of faith leaders for next Monday and Tuesday, to solicit feedback on a new set of public worship guidelines that his administration will be producing. The date of re-opening for religious gatherings of more than ten people is still uncertain.
We understand that these are difficult decisions for our civic leaders and that they have many factors to consider in the reopening of life in Minnesota. The bishops of Minnesota likewise have many factors to consider as we determine when to allow public worship with more than 10 people. As faithful citizens, our decisions will be guided by three principles: 1) love of neighbor and concern for the common good, including the health and well-being of our neighbors; 2) respect for public authorities and their directives and guidance; and 3) the rights of the faithful to the sacraments and the duty of worship we owe to God. The faithful can expect that we will weigh these considerations carefully as part of our common responsibility to the state, and that we will zealously protect our liberties to assemble and worship freely.
The bishops of Minnesota will together decide on a path forward and hope to communicate that to you by the middle of next week.
In the meantime, we will creatively work within the ten-person limit to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to come to Mass. If a parish is prepared to fully implement the stringent safety and sanitization protocols published May 9, it may begin public Mass on Monday, May 18, respecting the ten-person limit. We expect that some
parishes will not be ready to begin public Masses because they are not yet comfortable
with, or able to implement fully. the protocols. Parishes should only return to a limited
public celebration of the Mass when they are ready.
We know that many of you share our frustration and disappointment about the
executive order’s treatment of religious gatherings. We ask that you continue to pray for
an end to the pandemic and for our civic leaders, and that you presume the good will of
those charged with these important and difficult decisions. Let us ask the Lord to help us cultivate patience, serenity, and peace of soul during our continued Eucharistic fast –
believing that God will bring many graces from our sacrifices.
Please continue to pray for our sisters and brothers who have died or have become
ill from COVID-19, along with their loved ones, and for the doctors, nurses, health care
professionals, first responders and clergy who are serving them so sacrificially.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
There are many competing emotions and thoughts filling my heart and mind, during these COVID-19 Stay At Home days. I have fear for those who are on the frontline of this global pandemic—including my daughter who is a paramedic. I feel deep sadness for those who are suffering from the disease, as well as those who face economic devastation due to the quarantine. I feel despair as I see the way the virus has disproportionally affected the health of racial and ethnic minorities. I feel hope, as I hear stories of people who sacrifice to help another. And, forced to stay home, I feel gratitude through reclaimed meditation and prayer practices.
One of the most troubling emotions and thoughts I have is in response to the apparent politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic. These times are challenging in so many ways. And people are bound to respond to these challenges in so many ways. I admit to feelings of anger and distress as I see the deep divide COVID-19 is exposing in our society through protests and calls for choosing the economy over life. If I am honest, these feelings turn toward judgement of people who I simply don’t understand.
In one of my daily meditation books, Twenty-Four Hours A Day, the reflection for the day pierced my heart. It provided a recalibration and re-centering for my thinking:
Try never to judge. The human mind is so delicate and so complex that only its Maker can know it wholly. Each mind is so different, actuated by such different motives, controlled by such different circumstances, influenced by such different sufferings; you cannot know all the influences that have gone to make up a personality. Therefore, it is impossible for you to judge wholly that personality. But God knows that person wholly and He can change it. Leave to God the unraveling of the puzzles of personality. And leave it to God to teach you the proper understanding.
As I try to process all these emotions and thoughts, I can be overwhelmed. My faith calls me to lean on God—to trust God. Only through this surrender of my own agenda, and recommitment to see God’s presence in all, can I find understanding –and ultimately find the courage, and love to work for charity, justice and peace.
Through Holy Week, we saw Jesus endure betrayals and violence—ultimately succumbing to death on a cross. Only after going through this pain and suffering did he find the gift of resurrection and new life. So too, we must be patient and steadfast as we go through these times of desperation and suffering. We are called to know the truth deep in our heart: God is present. If we walk through these challenges with grace and confidence in God’s steadfast love and presence, we will come out the other side whole and healed—both personally and as a community.
This is not easy. But this is the challenge of our day.
I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times.
Today I would like to update you in regard to two items:
First, as I mentioned last week, we are working on plans for a gradual re-opening of The Basilica. This will be very challenging as we need to ensure a safe environment for all those who come to The Basilica.
Specifically, when we are able to have people at Mass again, we have developed some protocols to help ensure a safe environment for those attending. Those protocols will include, but will not be limited to, pre-registering for Mass, entering through a particular door, taking each person’s temperature, requiring face mask, and sitting in an assigned seat.
It is our hope and my prayer that these protocols will ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone. I will share more about these protocols as we move forward, but wanted you to know that we have been working on them, and that we will follow all State health and safety regulations, as well as directives from our Archdiocese as we implement them.
The second item I want to mention today has to do with our volunteers at The Basilica. As you know, The Basilica has a very large number of people who volunteer in many different areas. While some ministries have continued remotely or virtually, at the present time, our incredible staff is doing many of the roles that volunteers have done.
I know that many of our volunteers are eager to come back and help at The Basilica. And we are reengaging volunteers on a case by case basis, when we can ensure their safety and security.
We are doing this in an abundance of caution to ensure that when people are able to resume their volunteer activities they will be able do so in a safe and secure environment.
As I mentioned previously, I have no doubt, that Church will be very different when we are able to gather again, but we need to take precautions now so we can move forward in a thoughtful, deliberate manner so that we don’t inadvertently put someone’s health at risk.
Finally, if you have any suggestions, questions or concerns, please let us know. We may not be able to implement all your suggestions, or respond to all your questions and concerns, but we will do our very best.
Join us next Wednesday at 9:00am for Zoom Coffee and Conversation for an opportunity to talk about different aspects of our parish life.
O Mary, you always brighten our path as a sign of salvation and of hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the Cross, took part in Jesus’ pain while remaining steadfast in faith.
O loving Mother, you know what we need, and we are confident you will provide for us as at Cana in Galilee. Intercede for us with your Son Jesus, the Divine Physician, for those who have fallen ill, for those who are vulnerable, and for those who have died.
Intercede also for those charged with protecting the health and safety of others and for those who are tending to the sick and seeking a cure.
Help us, O Mother of the Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who took upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows, so as to lead us, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection.
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