March 25, 2020, Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Greetings and peace in Christ, the Only Savior of the world. I’m writing to you on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord, March 25, exactly nine months before we celebrate the birthday of our Savior Jesus Christ. We think of Mary and her perfect “yes” to God in obedience to doing His will, and that at the Annunciation God came into the world, became incarnate, in order to redeem us, to save us from our sins, and bring us to our eternal home, Heaven. And we pray for the grace to do God’s will as He calls us to do so in our love for Him and love for our neighbor.
This weekend is the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Next weekend, April 4-5, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord as Holy Week begins. Throughout these challenging days, please be assured that I will continue to offer Mass every day, seven days a week, praying for God’s peace, strength, courage and healing, and for an end to the Coronavirus-19 pandemic. Although all the Masses will be private (as required by Bishop Donald Hying and in response to the “safer at home” directives of the governor), please know that I will be praying with you and for you at every Mass. Blessed palms will be available at the entrances of the church on Palm Sunday morning, April 5. As of this writing, Bishop Hying (as well as bishops throughout much of the world) will continue to suspend the public celebration of Mass through Easter Sunday. As priests continue to celebrate private Masses, some Masses will be broadcast live and others recorded, including on WISC-TV Channel 3, Saturdays 5pm and 6:30pm, and Sundays, 6:00am; TVW and Direct TV 14, Sundays, 7am. EWTN broadcasts the Mass live every day at 7am (cable, Dish, internet) and re-broadcasts throughout the day. Please see madisondiocese.org/massesonline for a list of parishes in our diocese and around the world that broadcast Masses on the internet. Watching the Mass live, you receive graces and blessing of that Mass, as you make a spiritual communion with our Lord. Our church is open day and night for people to come and pray. I will continue to hear confessions on Fridays and Saturdays and be available for Sacramental emergencies. Please see our parish website and church and school Facebook pages for announcements and spiritual helps as well. We will celebrate the Sacraments whenever possible; and as we practice social distancing, we will never practice spiritual distancing in our love for God and neighbor.
Let’s continue to pray to renew our faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and our trust in His Divine providence, for He will see us through this time as we cooperate with His grace. Let us keep praying for courage and calm, for the health of all of God’s people and for a morally responsible cure and vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As we get through this together, by God’s grace, we pray that individuals and families become more aware of what really matters in life: our faith, families and friends, living the virtues of faith, hope and love in our love for God and neighbor. Please consider spending more time reading the Bible, praying the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers with family and friends, and visiting EWTN and such websites as Formed.org for great Catholic programming.
Our church and school staff are working from home and in the office and classrooms as needed. SCRIP is available at the school office to support our school and local businesses. Our school faculty and staff are working diligently to provide instructions, lessons and helps for our students. Thank you, everyone, for being part of our parish family and for all that you do in witnessing to faith, hope and love. I thank God every day for being able to serve you as your priest.
As we continue our journey with God through this crisis and approach Holy Week, let’s continue to pray for one another, our churches, schools, diocese, community, country, government leaders, businesses, healthcare workers and first-responders; for all who have died, that they’re resting in God’s peace in Heaven; and for God’s healing and peace for all who are suffering. May we renew our faith and trust in Our Lord Jesus Christ with all our heart, for He is with us always (Proverbs 3:5; Matthew 28:20), and His love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). Jesus, we trust in You. Mary, Mother of mercy, pray for us. Saint Joseph, pray for us. Saint Clement and Saint Raphael, pray for us.
May God bless you and your families now and always,
Fr. William Vernon