May 17, 2020
Life seems different as I sit here writing this bulletin article. Yes it is Tuesday morning. Yes the sun is shining and the birds are singing. The blossoming trees are losing their flowers and their fragrant scent. The leaves are taking form. It is a cool morning, however. Spring is slow in bringing us sustaining daily warmth. Just as I feel the decline in the ravages of the corona virus is ever so slow in ebbing into a distant past. Why does life seem different today? For there is an excitement in the air. The State ban is gradually lifting and though life will “be different,” we are moving in a direction that is hopeful and positive.
In this great hope we have been given the okay to start public celebrations of Mass! Beginning Tuesday May 19, we will resume daily mass at our normal scheduled times of 6:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. Our Sunday celebrations will begin on the weekend of May 23/24, also at the same scheduled times of 7:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon. This is absolutely wonderful news for all of us!
The good news of returning to church is filled with tension. We cannot go back to how we were celebrating a few months ago. Everyone who enters the church must bring and wear a mask. You will take the mask off to receive Holy Communion. We will have music/singing but it will be simpler. We will not have hymnals in the pews because too many people would be handling them. There will be a plan to sanitize the church between masses. We will follow all the precautions necessary to make the church comfortable and safe for everyone. It will all be good!
Our faith is extremely important to us and receiving the Holy Eucharist is the summit of who we are as Catholic people. There will be protocols and directives for all who will be attending Mass. I am cognizant of people’s opinions and thoughts. However, I want to be clear that, though us clergy and staff, who are working diligently and thoughtfully to re-open the church, we will be making the decisions that everyone must abide by. We are following the guidelines set forth by the Archdiocese of Detroit. The AOD has been in direct contact with many physicians, ethicists, canon lawyers, theologians and liturgists who have formulated the outlines that have been passed on to us pastors. For instance, if someone comes to church without a mask, they cannot enter. Some may or may not like the configuration of how seating will be handled. We will not be having altar servers during Phase I. We may or may not have Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. There will probably be more things that may be frustrating. I realize that and I understand it. We must make sure that our frustrations or opinions not interfere the most important aspect: coming to church, listening to the Word and receiving the Holy Eucharist! All else is secondary.
I have asked people, many from the Worship Commission, to help with the transitioning as the weeks unfold. I ask that you do not give them a difficult time. They are following my directives. They are not doing it on their own. What they do may seem intrusive to your prayer and worship and that is ok to not like it. That is a good sign! However, until we get back to a “normal” rhythm we need to be patient and joyful receivers of our faith in Jesus.
I am so excited to celebrate Mass with you rather than in front of a camera in an empty church! I pray to Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes daily for the end of this virus and for a cure/vaccine so that people may move about in freedom and in peace. I also ask that you pray a daily rosary asking Mary’s intercession for a cure, for peace and for consolation of our souls.
In gratitude to Jesus Christ,
Fr. Jim Bilot