“Untie him and let him go” (Jn 11:44).
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I pray that this letter finds you, and those whom you hold dear, well and in good health in these uncertain days. These words of Jesus from this Sunday’s Gospel passage come after he has raised Lazarus from the dead and Lazarus comes walking out of the tomb bound in his burial cloths. Jesus gives those who have witnessed this miracle the command to untie Lazarus and let him go. Jesus has already set Lazarus free from the death that had bound him and now commands these witnesses to free him from the things of this world that bind him.
This sense of setting someone free, I think, speaks to all of our hearts in these days. This past week, Governor Baker, issued a “Stay at Home Advisory” for the people of Massachusetts as well as shutting down all businesses considered non-essential, in essence encouraging us all to restrain ourselves from going out unnecessarily so as to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the coronavirus. In a sense, we could see it being “tied up” as Lazarus was in the Gospel. When we look around the rest of the country (e.g., California and New York) and the world (e.g., Italy, China and India where total lockdowns have been put in place), we see that the “cloths” that bind us are not as restrictive as others. Still, there remains in the hearts of all of us, no matter where we are, the desire to be “set free,” “unbound,” from this contagion that is plaguing our world.
While at prayer in the rectory chapel this morning, I heard a wonderful sound….the chirping of a bird. While we have had an unusually warm winter, it reminded me of how that is usually the herald of the time when the earth is breaking free of the bonds of winter, and it was a reminder of the reality that we are a people of hope, that we look to the future, and we must always seek to exercise that virtue. And one of the ways in which we do that is through prayer.
As I did in my first letter after public Masses were suspended, I would encourage you to remain steadfast in prayer, especially seeking the Lord’s favor that we would be “let go” from this pandemic. The rosary, a litany…to St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Sacred Heart, other prayers are helpful at this time. There is also a wonderful prayer from the texts of one of the Masses in the Roman Missal (“In any need”):
O God, our refuge in trials, our strength in sickness, our comfort in sorrow, Spare your people, we pray, that, though rightly chastised now by affliction, they may find relief at last through your loving mercy.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A few notes / reminders:
- Sunday Mass– will be live-streamed again at 9:30 AM on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/St-Bartholomew-Parish-Needham-MA-121212978474/ This time we are upping the risk factor….we’re going to try to add some music! The planned music follows after my notes (on the bottom right side or you can download and print the music and readings here!). Remember that you can also watch Sunday Mass on Catholic TV online at www.catholictv.org, or on Comcast at 268 or Verizon at 296, or anytime on demand at www.watchthemass.com. Readings can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032920.cfm
- Dispensation from Abstinence – I learned late on Thursday that Cardinal Sean, mindful that in the current situation, many people may be dependent upon eating what they have stored up in freezers or cabinets, or on meals that are provided for them, has dispensed all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston from the rule of abstaining from meat on Fridays for the remainder of Lent. He asks, however, that those who are able to continue the practice of abstinence do so and offer that up for those who are suffering in any way during this pandemic.
- Offertory – Many thanks to those of you who have been sending in your donations. I know some of you tried to use the online giving last week and had problems. My guess is that since all the parishes in the U.S. are in the same boat, the site got overwhelmed. You might try a day other than Sunday by clicking here: http://stbartholomew-needham.org/donate/ where you can chose which donation you wish to make and it will take you to a secure page.
- Bulletin – while there is not a lot going on in the parish we are still publishing a weekly bulletin which can found online here: http://stbartholomew-needham.org/bulletins/
- Elders & Those Most at Risk – Once again, please remember to check in on the elders of our community and those who might have underlying conditions that make them most at risk for this coronavirus. If you know of someone who needs something, or you, yourself, are in need, please call the parish office.
- Church – The church building does remain open for prayer Sunday – Friday mornings and most of the day Saturday. Please be mindful that there can be no more than 10 people in the church at a time. Also there are a limited supply of Lysol wipes to clean the area you use….if you are able to bring a little baggie with your own wipes to help keep the space clean and safe and decrease the drain on the ones we have, that would be greatly appreciated.