At this time last year, we were fresh from a visit by our bishop, celebrating Christ’s Resurrection with family and friends, and preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of our beautiful church building. We had just presented our Parish Pastoral Plan for the next five years. It contemplated a future of fewer priests and increasingly diverse and mobile parishioners, all seeking innovative means for faith and connection. Everything was so … normal.
But that future is now—and it is not at all as we envisioned.
This Easter, we are confined to our homes and deprived of the Eucharist physically, because we cannot share the Sacrament at Mass. We all are suffering from COVID-19, be it from illness and death, loss of employment or income, or separation from our friends and family. Nobody here has been untouched. Indeed, our extended “Lent” will continue long past today, but we have much to be grateful for. The Eucharist is abundant in our hearts.
The word “Eucharist” is derived from a Greek word that means “gratitude.” Thomas Merton wrote: “To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything he has given us—and he has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of his love, every moment of existence is a grace.” We count among those grateful blessings the connections that we have made with each other, be it through the generations, or over the past year.
As Fr. Bill notes in his commentary on Ezekiel, we now by necessity engage in collaborative ministry. These connections cast aside the strictures of the past, yet is the same New Commandment that Jesus gave after the Last Supper: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Each of us is called to play a role—probably not at all as we envisioned. Help us sustain each other: offer your talents to help.
On behalf of the entire St. Charles community, we wish you and your loved ones a healthy and peaceful Easter. May our gratitude strengthen us so that we will emerge on the other side of this safely together, ever closer to God’s love.
Francis Chin and Kerin Coughlin