May 17, 2020
During the forty-day period between Easter Sunday and the Ascension of Our Lord, the Church encourages us to keep our eyes on Heaven, our ultimate purpose in life, to which Our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us. Father Francis Fernandez (In Conversation with God) reminds us that this invitation becomes more pressing as we approach the celebration of the day on which Jesus, God the Son, went up to the right hand of God the Father. (In Madison and some other dioceses this year, the celebration of Ascension Thursday is transferred to Sunday, May 24.)
As we faithfully persevere by God’s grace through the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, let’s pray for an end to the shutdowns and that We the People might keep focused on using common sense, being prudent, and acting safely as we strive to open the doors of our homes, businesses and churches, especially for public Masses (Saint Clement’s doors are open 24-7, with private Masses). Let’s keep praying for the repose of the souls of all the people who have died, for God’s healing and strength for all who are sick and suffering from the COVID-19 virus and from other illnesses, and for healthcare workers and all who are caring for the sick. Let’s also pray for all who have recovered from the virus and all who are seriously suffering from the shutdowns (spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and economically) – for parents, children, teachers, farmers, small-business and large-business owners, restaurant owners, furloughed doctors and nurses, and the nearly 32 million people who have had to file for unemployment because of various governors’ restrictions.
In a special way, we pray for the safety and well-being of all who have been courageously working through the pandemic and the shutdowns – for healthcare workers, first responders (in law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical services), U.S. Military, farmers, and all working in grocery stores, restaurant & food services, food-processing plants, USPS, UPS, FedEx, truck-driving, gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies, hardware and farm supply stores, sporting goods stores, and general merchandise stores (Walmart, etc.).
Our Lord promised His disciples that He would be with them forever ( John 14:19-20; Matthew 28:20). Jesus Christ has kept His promise in His Church, Word and Sacraments. His presence did not end with His Ascension, when He went up in His glorious body to His Father – indeed, by His Passion, Death and Resurrection, He has prepared for us a place in His Father’s House ( John 14:2-3). And on the Last Day, God will raise our mortal bodies to be like His own, in glory, reuniting our body and soul in Heaven ( John 6; 2 Corinthians 4-5). This is our Faith and Hope, which God has given us. We proclaim this every time we say the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed, when we state that we believe in and look forward to the resurrection of the body and eternal life in Heaven.
Each disciple of Christ, I pray, is comforted by the hope of Heaven. In our journey toward Heaven, Jesus Christ strengthens us in His Church, Word and Sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist, where Jesus is truly, really and substantially present (let’s all keep making Spiritual Communions with our Lord until we can be together again in church in publicly celebrated Masses). God also continues to guide and direct His Church, for He has given us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit ( John 14:23-29). Along with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, our Lord has also entrusted us with a teaching authority, the Magisterium. As Jesus has reminded us through His Church, our duty is to follow the Lord, to keep His Commandments, to love Him with all our heart, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus Christ is our Hope and He calls us to proclaim the Truth with Love in a world where self-centeredness, greed, violence, and cynicism often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace – so let’s also keep praying for purification and healing in the Church. Meditating on Heaven helps us to love as God has loved us – a love that transforms everything we say and do, even the most mundane moments, realizing that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is present at every moment, sanctifying our words and deeds. It is then that we realize evermore deeply His love, peace and joy, and that He is with us, always. Amen. Alleluia!
With peace and prayers in Christ, the Only Savior of the world,