Fr. Stan’s Article

Does God have your attention during this COVID-19 pandemic? For many of us the diversions of daily life keep us pretty occupied and attentive to everything except God. Life can be so hectic and exciting that until we set aside a day, an hour, or just a minute we fail even to thank God. It’s then that we need a retreat to sort out who and what matters most to us. Maybe a pandemic can help us realize how fragile and interdependent we actually are. When it comes to our health for example, we often don’t appreciate its value until we’ve lost it. The same could be said about our faith and religious practices. Now is the time to set our gaze on the One who loves us and accompanies us on this journey.

I recall that when Bishop Ken Untenner of Saginaw was diagnosed with cancer, he said that “God certainly got my attention!” Perhaps He also has our attention as we’re dealing with not only this terrible virus, but also the changes it’s forcing on our daily lives. In his homily a week ago Friday, Pope Francis said that we need to embrace the cross of Jesus in order to find the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time. He went on to say that in abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions we can allow the creativity of the Spirit to develop new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. To embrace the cross of Jesus is to embrace hope as we are strengthened and sustained in protecting ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord strengthens our faith, frees us from fear and gives us hope.

This year we’re celebrating Palm Sunday in the company of our families and loved ones apart from our parish family. We are joined spiritually through virtual technology as we pray for each other while we watch Masses streamed from various places that are local and global. We are encouraged to participate in spiritual communion by inviting the Lord into our hearts until we can receive Him sacramentally. Our prayers draw us to find innovative ways to help those who need us. The life of our parish goes on in your faith, our prayers and our service. God’s Word speaks to you in the cathedral of the “domestic church” as you gather with those around you to reflect on the good news of our salvation. Please consider using the resources we’ve posted on our parish website smoth.org. Give some attention to thanking and praising God daily. Be attentive to His loving presence as you make intercessions for those dying and suffering from this disease. Remain at the foot of the cross to be placed in the loving care of Jesus’ mother, Mary, our mother. Jesus desires to forgive and bless us even in midst of His terrible agony. Can we be open to receiving these gifts in new ways this year?

I invite you to join Archbishop Vigneron in the celebration of this year’s Holy Week services at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral through either TV or internet. Since opportunities for sacramental reconciliation are limited at this time, a perfect act of contrition with a desire to confess when the opportunity is once again available suffices for forgiveness. Pray daily for spiritual communion. I will pray for you and with you throughout this Holy Week.

Thank you to all who have continued to support St. Mary’s financially either through on-line giving or by mail.

Lenten peace and joy,

Fr. Stan Ulman