Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is hard to believe that we are approaching our eighth weekend of being unable to gather together to celebrate the Eucharist on account of the ongoing state of emergency. Please know you all remain in my prayers and close to me when I celebrate Mass. It has been a blessing, on account of technology, to be able to “gather together” on Sundays by live-streaming Mass on Facebook. I know that connecting to this has been difficult for some of you, but we may have figured out how to stream on our website at the same time. If you have had difficulty, try checking out our website on Sunday at 9:30.
As we enter into the month of May, we enter into the month of Mary, the Mother of our Lord and our mother as well. It is important, as we enter into this month, that we not fail to seek her maternal help and mediation in this time of pandemic. I wish to share with you a letter that Pope Francis has written to all of the faithful in the world:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.
For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.
I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.
Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist
I have placed the two prayers he mentions at the end of this letter. I would also direct your attention to a link with this letter for a fantastic booklet together by Jen Foster that is full of resources for children and adults to help us to grow closer to Mary during this month. Let us continue to pray for one another, seeking Mary’s help in these strange days of ours.
Again, some notes for you:
Domestic Violence / Child Abuse – The media has brought to our attention lately the reality that the Stay-at-Home advisory, with people not being able to get out as often and with children not being around mandated reporters as frequently as they usually are, has resulted in fewer requests for help and reports of suspected abuse which may likely not be the reality people are facing. When talking to friends or neighbors be attentive to any “clues” that might be dropped in the conversation and ask if help is needed when it is safe to do so. If you are in need of help, or think someone else is, be aware of these numbers:
Elder Abuse Hotline – 800-922-2275
Domestic Violence – REACH (24 hr. hotline) – 800-899-4000
Child Abuse – Mass Dept. of Children and Families – 617-748-2000
Needham Police Department – 781-455-7570
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network – 800-656-4673 – rainn.org
Offertory – Many thanks to those of you who have been sending in your donations and donating online. If you have not done so, please consider signing up to donate online. Online donations can be made here: http://stbartholomew-needham.org/donate/.
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.
The Church is open for Prayer – Just a reminder that the church is generally open for prayer M-F from 7:00 to noon, and on the weekends when we would normally have Masses scheduled. On a week-to-week basis we are continuing the Adoration on Tuesday nights that had been scheduled for Lent, but in order to come you MUST sign up. There is a link for that on the parish website. Please remember that, based on the state’s guidelines, we cannot have more than ten people in the church at a given time. Thank you.
Prayers that Pope Francis Mentioned:
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.