Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We’re about to move into the holiest week of our Christian year — Holy Week. Like Lent, this year it promises to be one we would not choose. But in God’s providential plan, it’s one He’s chosen for us. In his last hours, Jesus prayed three times, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will (Matthew 26:38).” Yet, it was not the Father’s will for Him at that time.
I suspect that all of us, including our Holy Father Pope Francis, have pleaded with our Father in Heaven to relieve the world of the painful virus that has taken so many lives and has caused so much pain, loss of life, disruption, and depression in so many people in every nation on our planet. Like Jesus, we too must pray, “not as I will” and patiently await God’s deliverance which will come at the time He chooses.
In the wonderful phone calls I’ve shared with most of you (just a few more of you to dial up!), I’ve learned how resourceful each of you is about use of time: more time for prayer, watching Masses streamed from various sources, painting your kitchen walls, phoning friends and relatives, sewing masks, knitting gloves and scarves for those living on winter cold streets, planning beautiful gardens in your yard when weather permits, reading books that have been on your bucket list forever, watching reflective programs on saints lives, walking the dog, organizing drawers and closets, trying new recipes, writing, etc., etc., etc.
The hardest part of this not-chosen-Lent for all of you has been the inability to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion with your parish communities. It is painful indeed and it is a pain our Heavenly Father knows. Please use whichever form of “Spiritual Communion” draws you closer to Jesus until the day when our heavenly Manna in the Eucharistic celebration and reception of Communion is again possible. The Chosen People in the Old Testament wandered in the desert for 40 years, and God never abandoned them nor did He ever not feed them each and every day. He will do the same for us and this pandemic will not last 40 years. As Third Order Brothers and Sisters of Penance, we can handle this! The TAU we put on each day reminds us of the strength that is ours through the Cross we carry as did Jesus. “I will be with you all days . . . “ Jesus said.
As we enter into Holy Week, I would like to offer you this thought from the Letter to the Romans:
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ: will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including Covid 19) will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 37—39).”
May your Holy Week be filled with many, many blessings and graces and may the Lord give you love, peace, joy, and all good things in abundance! And don’t forget to “ . . . wash your hands, and when you’re finished washing them place them in the hands of Jesus.”