Weekly Update 6/4/2020
In the Octave of Pentecost
“The Spirit of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us.” (Romans 5:5; cf.8:11)
These days after Pentecost are an opportunity for all of us to continue to give thanks for the gift of the Spirit, which the Lord bequeathed to his Church as the lasting, active presence of the love between the Father and the Son, to be our Advocate and lead us into all truth.
Christmas and Easter are the two hinges on which the Church’s life of prayer revolves, celebrating the mystery of the Eternal Word of the Father made flesh in the Virgin’s womb and the triumph of the Lord Jesus over sin and death in the glorious Resurrection.
Pentecost brings to a conclusion Eastertide, but at the same time it is a beginning—a new beginning of sorts—as we celebrated the birth of the Church, the new community of God’s holy People united in the love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now sent on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to all the world—a radical, sacrificial kingdom of love in which all humanity, and indeed all creation, are reconciled to the Blessed Trinity and in which our new, redeemed humanity bears the dignity of Almighty God, himself.
It is in no way not Providential that we returned to the public celebration of Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost, a time of new beginnings and new commitment.
Here at the parish office the staff worked for several weeks to get everything up and running to make certain all the necessary protocols for safety and sanitation were in place for our return. It was somewhat nerve wracking as protocols were promulgated and revised and then condensed. Things were changing daily, even hourly, as we tried to be fastidious in responding with an abundance of caution for our public return.
All and all, I think everything went very well. I must admit I was quite nervous. The first Mass on Saturday at 5 pm found me unable to focus, hoping everything was in place and trusting some folks would show up. The attendance at the Masses was about what I expected; 50 at the 5 pm, 57 at the 8 am and 70 at the 11 am. There was plenty of room for everyone and plenty more room to anticipate even more folks returning!
I was happy that most everyone wore a mask. I was anxious that this might be a point of contention given the current discourse. A reminder that if you don’t have a mask yourself, or have forgotten it on your way to Mass, we have extras available just inside the entrance door.
The ministers all did a great job, and for the time being we will stick to the adult ministers until more folks feel confident to return.
One thing we must remember is to maintain social distancing as we approach to receive Holy Communion. Please leave at least 6 feet between yourself and the person in front of you as we make our prayerful pilgrimage up the center aisle. Fiddling with masks and receiving the Body of Christ, in this new manner, will come naturally enough in time and with practice.
This week you will find new missalettes on the chairs. Please take these home with you after Mass and bring them back to use each week. We are not to share printed matter among ourselves. By taking the missalettes home and bringing them back for each celebration you are helping to limit the possible spread of the virus. Also, this week we will have printed bulletins at the exit door of the Activity Center at the conclusion of Mass. Because our bulletin company is still on partial shutdown, for the next few weeks the bulletin will only consist of a colorful liturgical cover and one page with the Mass Intentions, Offertory report and important announcements. As things start to pick up there will be more information in the bulletin. Until then, please continue to check the web page and Facebook for up-to-date information.
Please take notice of the upcoming “33 Days to Morning Glory” adult education and spiritual enrichment program. This will be done entirely by way of Zoom. This is a new experience for us. Rather shortly, the parish will offer an at-home family Vacation Bible School which will be available online. At this time we are focusing our energy and attention on these two interactive faith experiences for the whole family.
At the conclusion of our nightly rosary during the month of May I asked those participating to let me know how we might continue our livestreaming devotional life. I was overwhelmed by the popularity of the nightly rosary and edified by so much participation. I am appreciative to all who responded to my request for ideas about how we might proceed. I hope to have something in place soon as a forum for shared prayer intentions as we forge the bonds of digital community at Saint Thomas Aquinas parish.
As the antiphon for the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit reminds us, “The Spirit of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us.” May this new life of the Spirit continue to guide us in this new life of our parish as together we seek to respond in new ways to the Lord Jesus’ mission to live and proclaim the kingdom of God.
From my heart to yours, In the hearts of Jesus and Mary—
Peace and blessing,