A pdf of this letter is available here
I want to share my words of gratitude to all of you, parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Parish. These have been challenging times for all of us but I have experienced your love and support in the midst of these difficulties. Even if you have not been able to join the community in the Eucharist over the past months, each of us has come to know the love of the Lord Jesus in the little acts of kindness and the support which we have extended to each other. At each Eucharist, I and our community assembled pray for all members of the parish and most especially those who are experiencing some distress because of the pandemic.
Pope Francis, speaking recently (for World Mission Day), highlights how important it is that we all be missionaries of compassion in these times:
In these days of pandemic, when there is a temptation to disguise and justify indifference and apathy in the name of healthy social distancing, there is urgent need for the mission of compassion, which can make that necessary distancing an opportunity for encounter, care and promotion. “What we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20), the mercy we have experienced, can thus become a point of reference and a source of credibility, enabling us to recover a shared passion for building “a community of belonging and solidarity worthy of our time, our energy and our resources (Fratelli Tutti, 36)… In our present circumstances, there is an urgent need for missionaries of hope who, anointed by the Lord, can provide a prophetic reminder that no one is saved by himself.
As followers of Christ, I believe all of us should recognize that we must be missionaries of hope to one another by bearing witness to the presence of the Lord in our lives. This should mark us as members of this community of the sacrament of the presence of the Lord, the Blessed Sacrament.
In the parish bulletin for last Sunday (January 24th), I included excerpts from documents of the Vatican and of Canadian bishops about the morality of taking the covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available to us. These articles explain that the Church teaches that it is indeed moral to do so despite information to the contrary. Around the time Pope Francis and Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI were vaccinated, Francis said “I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine… It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.” While taking the vaccine is indeed a personal choice, I want to be a missionary of hope and state that each of us has a duty to protect others from infection with its danger of serious illness, and for some, death. A vaccine is the most effective way to achieve this unless one decides to self-isolate.
Since we will continue to struggle against this virus for some more months and if you feel vulnerable in any way, I urge you to stay safe. Yet if you do feel you are able to attend Mass here at your parish, you are welcome during the week at the midday 12:05 PM Eucharist without pre-registering. If you wish to attend Mass on Saturday or Sunday, please call the Parish Office in the afternoon (Tuesday to Friday) to put your name on the list.
Finally, on behalf of the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils, I thank you for your financial support for our parish during the pandemic. Some of you are suffering financially because of the pandemic and so your continued support is even more generous. Thank you.
May the God of mercy, in our prayer with the compassionate mother Mary, continue to guide us, protect us and accompany us during this pandemic.
Fr. James Hentges
Strength for this Challenging Time
O God of Infinite goodness,
We pray for your love and compassion to abound
as we walk through this challenging season.
We ask for wisdom for those who bear the load
of making decisions with widespread consequences.
We pray for those who are suffering with sickness
and all who are caring for them.
We ask for protection for the elderly and vulnerable
to not succumb to the risks of the virus.
We pray for misinformation to be curbed
that fear may take no hold in hearts and minds.
As we exercise the good sense that you in your mercy provide,
may we also approach each day in faith and peace,
trusting in the truth of your goodness towards us.
We pray through Christ our Lord.