LETTER FROM FR. O'CONNOR
My dear friends in Jesus Christ,
I was hopeful that I would not be writing to you in this way so soon, but we are living in constantly changing times. While we had been leaving the parish open during the day to allow for private prayer and devotions, we have been told by the Diocese of Columbus to restrict that practice as well, as we do all we can to comply with the directives that we are receiving from the state and health officials. It saddens me to say so, but St. John XXIII parish building will remain closed to the public until further notice.
It is important to note that I have said that only the building has closed temporarily. It is very important to understand that the parish itself is very much still active. There are legitimate concerns about what would happen in the event of a parishioner needing anointing of the sick, or if baptisms and funerals are still happening. Rest assured, that as pastorally necessary actions of the Church, these are still occurring, albeit in a more restricted and limited fashion. Know also that I continue to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day, for our whole parish family. We are checking messages, and responding to emails, and doing everything else we can to ensure the continued operation of our parish.
Most importantly, St. John XXIII parish is active because of you. Our parish, and indeed every parish, is not simply the sum of the activity done on site or in its name. A Catholic parish is made up of every parishioner, who enlivens it by living out their own Catholic faith. These are difficult times. These are, quite frankly, unlike any times we have ever experienced ourselves. But the Church has made it through even more difficult circumstances than these, and we will make it through ourselves.
An important question at this time is, “How do we live out our faith when we do not have access to the Mass and the Sacraments?” The answer is that we live it out in a variety of ways. First, we live it out in our prayer. I again encourage each of you to pray every day, especially the rosary. We need to establish for ourselves a routine of prayer to help mark our day, especially if our normal routine has been changed. Picking a few times a day to pray can be very helpful, to make our connection with the Lord the way that we order our daily practices. Praying together with others is also very important. I strongly encourage you to pray together as a family each day.
Another essential way to live out our Christian faith is to live virtuously, and to guard against temptations that have manifested themselves in these unique times. Most specifically, we need to exercise the virtues of patience, courage, and especially charity. We are all finding ourselves in new circumstances that are constantly changing, and that can be a very frustrating and difficult experience. We need to be patient with one another. Courage is doing the right thing in the face of adversity. Right now, the courageous thing is to stay at home, practice good habits and social distancing, despite how difficult it may be. And finally, we need to be charitable in our thoughts and actions, placing the needs and concerns of others before our own, helping each other in safe, reasonable ways. This Sunday, for instance, we will be collecting goods for the Canal Winchester Food Pantry and the Women’s Care Center of Columbus. More information will be distributed regarding this collection can be found on the website.
Finally, we need to stay connected. As I have said a number of times, we need to be socially distant, not anti-social. I ask you to call friends and family members during these following weeks, to catch up and make sure needs are being taken care of. Beginning this Sunday, I will begin posting some regular videos to offer some support and reflections at this time. These will be available on the website (and maybe a new Parish social media presence, like on Facebook). I also encourage you to take advantage of Formed.org. Virtual connections can never replace normal interaction, but they can help bridge the gap.
Above all, know of my many prayers for all of you at this time. I wish I had some answers as to when life will return to normal. But what I do know is that suffering always brings us closer to Jesus Christ, and as we find ourselves journeying through a very unique Lent, we all have many sacrifices to offer to our Lord. Just as we anticipate enjoying on Easter what we have given up during Lent, let us begin to desire the Mass and Sacraments in the same way. Let us not grow angry and impatient, but hopeful and expectant for when we can come together again. Relying on the Motherly care of Our Lady, we unite our sufferings to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our healing and our hope.
St. John XXIII, pray for us.
Fr. Brian O’Connor
Pastor, St. John XXIII Parish
Pope Francis’ Prayer to Our Lady
O Mary, you always shine on our path as a sign of salvation and of hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm. You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need, and we are sure you will provide so that, as in Cana of Galilee, we may return to joy and to feasting after this time of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who has taken upon Himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows to lead us, through the cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen. Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Previous Messages from Fr. O'Connor
3-17-20 Message from Fr. O'Connor