Welcome to the weekend, everyone!
Here is our plan: I will celebrate a single Sunday Mass by webcast at 10:30am on Sunday. We are pretty close to having a decent webcast product, and based on experimenting with equipment and celebrating Mass on Friday and Saturday, so we should be able to tweak the webcast for better frame-rates and latency by tomorrow. The sound is improving, and in a few weeks we will look back and remark how amateur we were at the beginning of this process. The equipment required to do this has been minimal, but it is a testament to how connected we have become in recent years through our computers and social media.
The Diocese of Springfield has forbidden “public” Masses until further notice, and Bishop Paprocki wrote about the spirituality of a Eucharistic Fast… that is an unheard of practice for virtually all of us, but it is intended as an act of charity to ourselves and our neighbors during this time of vulnerability to disease. The Lord works through the Sacraments, but he is not bound by the sacraments thus, it is reasonable that if in our fervent prayer we ask Spiritual Communion with him that we can have, at least, the consolation of his presence in that way. Does this diminish the hunger for Sacramental Communion and going to Mass? No. But given the circumstances and trusting that the Lord really wants to be close to his people, it is a way to strengthen our spiritual thirst and our desire for his presence. We will, of course, re-establish public celebrations of Mass as soon as we can.
As I said in a notice earlier this week, we really do not have a method to ‘get around’ this prohibition set by the bishop. If it were simply a civil order to suspend Mass, I would say that we have a constitutional right to practice our faith and to gather peaceably. To that end, last weekend, I assured those at Mass that I would celebrate ‘privately’ and allow anyone who wanted to show up to do so at their own will… but now that the bishop has spoken and done so under the rubrics of “public health” and an opportunity for a “Eucharistic fast”, to allow such clandestine gatherings would really be an act of disobedience, against which I have a solemn promise of obedience to avoid. Thus the intense efforts this week to get the internet up in the Church and be ready to broadcast this weekend. So for right now, I cannot admit anyone to these ‘private’ celebrations, except by video feed and those whose presence is considered essential… I asked Deacon to be there today and I expect Fr. Blickhan to join us tomorrow as he doesn’t have the ability to (con-)celebrate Mass otherwise– I also want these two to be aware of what we are doing and how we are doing it, in the event I am not able to continue due to sickness or some other eventuality.
There is a tremendous history and spiritual pathway in our tradition about being ‘obedient’ on issues like this– theologians who had been silenced, stigmatics and visionaries who spend years in isolation, even those who are imprisoned today in the name of Christ and his Church. By being obedient to the authority of the Church, in our hardships we gain great graces. If you are heartbroken over not being able to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion this weekend, offer your suffering for those who are imprisoned this very day for the faith.
What I ask is that those who are able, especially among our younger parishioners, to please help those who are less technologically inclined, especially the elderly among us for whom this outage is truly distressing… if you are well and not a health threat to friends or family trying to tune into this webcast, please help them out. For those who are not able to tune into the webcast, the Mass for Shut-ins, sponsored by the local Knights of Columbus is broadcast on KHQA at 10:30am (the same time as our Mass here).
We are on YouTube on a channel for “St. Anthony of Padua in Quincy IL“… to get it to pop up as the first or second search result, you need to type in “St. Anthony Quincy” to the search bar in YouTube. I will have the live stream up, hopefully about 1/2 hour before Mass on Sunday which you can tune into. We should start promptly at 10:30 then.
I am going to announce our plans for the coming weeks at Sunday Mass. I hope to do a daily Holy Hour from the Church where we take prayer requests from those participating. I also hope to set up a hotline here at church to organize and distribute “Care Requests” from those who are in need. We are going to have a program where one-on-one care can be provided by individual parishioners to individual parishioners– rather than acting in a ‘big, institutional way’ where we have few people going out to many, we will try to get as may individual volunteers to go out to individuals in need… for a drugstore pickup or shopping request, for some yard work or help with some other chore, with other needs as they pop up. With individuals serving individuals, there will be less chance of people either picking up the disease or spreading it compared to having, for instance, one person going to many people, having many chances to either pick up or spread the disease to our home-bound. We will also be looking for people who can checkup on our nursing home residents. Many of those institutions are on ‘lock-down’ which causes even greater isolation for the residents than usual. It would be great to have a team of people making phone calls into these institutions to help our infirm in this time of isolation.
I also plan to publish times for private Confessions at Church soon, in keeping with the spirit of Lent and the needs of our times.
We will get through this and as I said in this week’s bulletin, I am hoping that when we look back on these days we as a parish may see that this is, indeed, ‘our finest hour’. May God continue to protect the people of St. Anthony Parish! Stay tuned for more as we get the word out! –Fr. Tom Donovan