Dear friends in Christ,
Today in the Gospel we hear one of the accounts of an appearance of the Risen Lord to His disciples. As they were making their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they were discussing along the way all that had taken place in recent days, that is, that Jesus suffered and died on the Cross but also the promising news that He is alive. Given the uncertainty that they were experiencing, it is not surprising that they were overjoyed as they came to recognize that it was the Risen Lord who was accompanying them along their journey.
It goes without saying that many people do not know what to think given the present uncertainty in light of the pandemic. Yet the Gospel today assures of that even though we may be tempted to lose hope, we ought never be afraid for God is faithful to His promises. Jesus is truly Risen and remains with us by His Spirit that He has given us.
As you have been walking or driving by Saint Joseph Church you undoubtedly have seen the two sets of sequential roadside signs that have gone up alongside Maryland and Meramec Avenues and made possible by an anonymous donor. If you haven’t seen them, I respectfully draw your attention to what is written on them:
Have no anxiety
The peace of God will guard your hearts (Philippians 4:6-7)
Pray without ceasing (Thessalonians 5:16)
And know that I am God (Psalm 46:11)
Be faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12)
God is with us even through the most difficult times of our lives. Indeed, the Scriptures tell us not to be anxious but to trust in Him. We are called to listen to Him in our hearts by committing ourselves to prayer so that we can personally experience His love for us. May the Risen Lord bless us all, especially those who are suffering at the present time, and may He give us all His deep and abiding peace.
From the outset, I take this opportunity to thank all of you for your ongoing prayers in this Easter season as we continue making our way forward as a community of faith during this difficult time. God is with us through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who by His Resurrection has given us the ultimate victory, a “victory over sin and death” (I Corinthians 15:57).
While we have not been able to gather as a community of faith in Saint Joseph Church, Father Mike Donald and I have been regularly celebrating Mass for all of you who are members of Saint Joseph Parish. Beginning with Holy Week, the Sacred Liturgies of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday have been livestreamed and uploaded to the Parish website and Facebook page, and the plan is to continue doing likewise for the upcoming Sundays of Easter until we are all able to return to church.
If you have had the opportunity to visit the church beginning on Easter Sunday, you will have noticed the beautiful flowers which decorate the sanctuary. The church is open every day of the week for adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and confessions are heard at the regularly scheduled times. Gratefully, a small but steady stream of the faithful come in throughout the day to spend time in prayer, and you who are not able to be present are with us in spirit as you are praying at home.
Divine Mercy Sunday
Today the Church throughout the world celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday and so calls to mind the infinite mercy of God in our lives. We have access to this mercy first through faith and Baptism and then throughout our lives, especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. On this day, we pray in a special way that all people will be open to receiving the mercy of God so that they can live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God (cf., Romans 8:21).
As we continue making our way into the season of Easter, we pray for all those who are suffering at the present time, especially in light of the present pandemic. We ask that God will be with them in a special way. We also pray for all medical personnel and caregivers, that the Spirit of God will strengthen them. May all people know the love of God in a personal way through Christ who give us life.
Dear friends in Christ,
Today the Church around the world celebrates the Solemnity of Easter and so calls to mind the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from death to new life. As we celebrate this most holy day of the year, we are encouraged in our faith as we know that for the faithful follower of Christ death is not the end but rather the passing to eternal life (John 5:24).
It goes without saying that at the present time we are living in a very difficult moment in human history given the pandemic which has given rise to fear and which has caused untold suffering and death. Yet while this has been the case, we know that this is not the end of the story. The end of the story is instead life with Christ now and life with Him forever (I Corinthians 15:55-57).
All of us have in one way or another been affected by the present situation. Yet this does not mean that we can give in to the temptation to lose hope. Rather it means that we are called to redouble our efforts at doing what we can, with the grace of God, to recognize His loving presence even now in the present moment and to witness to Him now, whether it be in our homes or in our community, as we make our way forward together.
On this Easter Day and in this coming Easter season, we pray together that God will swiftly bring an end to the present difficult situation, that His Spirit will comfort all those who are suffering, that He will strengthen those who care for them especially medical personnel and loved ones, that He will bring into His loving embrace all who have died, and that He will give us all strength and courage.
May the Risen Lord keep you and your loved ones safe and may you experience the deep and abiding peace that only He can give, so that together we can rededicate ourselves to Him who has conquered sin and death once and for all.
Dear friends in Christ,
Even though we are not able to come together as a community of faith to celebrate Holy Week and Easter Sunday, we are united with each other as members of the one Body of Christ (cf., Romans 12:5). Since the onset of the pandemic, a small but steady stream of the faithful have been making their way into Saint Joseph Church on a daily basis, both for private prayer in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament and for Confessions, and those who are unable to do so have been joining in prayerful solidarity from home (cf., Psalm 145:18). Together we have been doing what we can, with the grace of God, to weather the present storm and this includes especially praying for those who have been suffering and for those who have died.
During the time that public Masses have not been permitted to be celebrated in the Archdiocese, Father Mike Donald and I have been celebrating private Masses for you the members of Saint Joseph Parish and for all those affected by the pandemic. Please know that beginning this coming Saturday afternoon, April 4, blessed palms for you for Palm Sunday will be available on a table at the entrance to the sanctuary of the church.
In these days you may have received a telephone call from a parishioner asking how you are doing and if you need anything. If you have not received such a call but are in need please let us know at the parish office. May I kindly ask that you consider giving us your email address, if you have not done so, so that we can contact you more readily (email@example.com).
Thank you to all who have been sending in donations. Parish collections remain essential to the continued operation of the parish. Please use online giving, drop-off, or mail your contributions to the parish office. We will let you know when the Archbishop gives permission for public Masses to again be celebrated. In the meantime, Father Mike and I look forward to all of us coming together soon in worship at Saint Joseph Church, as we join our hearts and voices in prayer celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus to new life (cf., I Corinthians 15-55-57).
Rev. Philip J. Bené, J.C.D.