March 17, 2020 (updated March 23, 2020)
Who would have imagined a time when we as a community and nation, facing so great a crisis as this pandemic, would find our churches closed, separating the faithful from the Eucharist, source of spiritual strength and consolation.
Following the orders of Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit concerning closure of places of worship, effective immediately all churches in the Alexandria-Cornwall and Ottawa dioceses will be closed—even for private prayer—until further notice. The decision has been made to also close the parish office until further notice. We can still be reached by e-mail and phone message. Please allow 24 hours for a response. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in trying to flatten the curve.
The Holy Father and Archbishop Prendergast are asking that the faithful participate in Mass through television or social media sources. Spiritual Communion is an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church and a real way to unite ourselves to Christ. The prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori for a Spiritual Communion is:
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
There are other rites of the Church equally affected by this current situation: weddings, funerals (with cremated remains), and baptisms are all to be postponed until after the State of Emergency is lifted. Those to be welcomed into the Church at Easter (RCIA candidates) will celebrate their initiation at Pentecost (seven weeks after Easter).
Health and government officials tell us that we could be looking at a period of months rather than weeks before things get back to some semblance of “normal.” The virtues of charity and patience may well be tested and even overtaxed in the coming days and weeks. Let us through prayer, with faith and hope, entrust ourselves to the intercession and protection of the Mother of God and the intercession of our patron, St. Patrick.
Pope Francis composed and offered the following prayer at St. Mary Major in Rome before the Icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani (Health of the Roman People) His prayer is entitled Mary, Health of the Sick.
O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick. At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain, with steadfast faith. You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need. We are certain that you will provide, so that, as you did at Cana of Galilee, joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the Father’s will and to do what Jesus tells us: He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen. We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
St. Patrick’s Prayer
May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us
Against the snares of the evil ones,
Against temptations of the world.
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.
You are all in my prayers as we live these days and weeks of self-isolating and social distancing. I pray you will be protected from illness and all harm.
In Christ, on the Feast day of St. Patrick,
Fr. Paul Shepherd