Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Palm Sunday makes us face the fact that we’re not just observers in the life of Jesus. We’re not just hearers of the Gospel. At any given moment, we are either welcoming Jesus or shouting for him to be put away.         —Reflections by Mike Aquilina

Pastor's Corner
April 1, 2020

Because the Annunciation fell on a Wednesday, I decided to write you again on a Wednesday. The first reading for today’'s Mass is Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95. It is a powerful statement of complete trust in the True God and a steadfast refusal to worship a false god. The courage of the three young men in service to the king is admirable, almost incredible. This theme of courage and trust was central on St. Joseph’s Day and on the Annunciation. It certainly affirms us as we face the health issues and economic calamity of this pandemic in which we are embroiled.

Of course, the gifts of God to us and the joy that results from them are evident throughout Scripture. John 16 assures us in verse 22 no one will take your joy from you” and verse 33 reminds us that he has given us a joy and a peace to tap into that things like this pandemic cannot take away from us. Our faith offers us so much encouragement to reach deep into the Spirit-filled recesses of our being for joy and hope!

On March 20th, the Apostolic Penitentiary published new guidelines for a plenary indulgence for those with the Coronavirus and those who care for them. It goes beyond previous norms for the reception of the indulgence. Check out the article on NCRonline by Joshua J. McElwee on March 26 for details. I cite just a few key lines here.

For persons near death from the virus and unable to receive the sacraments because of isolation measures, the decree says they can obtain the indulgence "at the point of death, as long as they have recited some prayers during their life."

Jeremy Wilkins, a theologian at Boston College, said he sees "something new" in the offering to those who are dying. "The conditions there are waived. It says ...the church fulfills the conditions for you," said the theologian. "That's quite amazing."

"It really is tender," said Wilkins, who has focused his work in the areas of Christology and grace. "I think the church very tenderly wants to say, 'Be sorry for your sins, and know that you're not alone, and it will be OK.' "

The perfection of God is mercy. The Church is the physical presence in our world of the Risen Christ, who is Mercy Incarnate. As St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I know in whom I have trusted.” The Lord wants to tell us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.” Maybe even more than we hope to hear it said to us!

Remember that when confession is not available, a fervent Act of Contrition results in God forgiving even the most serious of our sins.  A simple one from the Rite of Penance is, “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Later one can mention the mortal sins in confession for honesty. When sacramental communion is not available, a spiritual communion should be made. The Holy Father recently reminded us of this using the same words I was taught in First Grade to say at Mass during Holy Communion, “Lord, I am not able to receive you now sacramentally.  Enter into my heart.  I embrace you as being already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never let me be separated from you.  Amen.”

Again, a practical note, if possible, please mail in or drop off at the office your donations to keep the parish afloat financially during this time. You can call and use a credit card over the phone. I was surprised to find out that the online service used for pledges during Forward in Faith is still operative for those who used it at that time.

Sincerest blessings,
Fr. Leo A. Dechant, CSJ

Read Past Issues

A Holy Week Message from Archbishop Gomez

More Holy Week resources from the LA Archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced this afternoon the suspension of Masses amid the current health threat due to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Archbishop Gomez Call On California Catholics To Support Extending Unemployment Benefits for Church Workers

Sub Tuum Praesidium: “We turn to you for protection, Holy Mother of God. Listen to our prayers and help us in our needs. Save us from every danger, glorious and blessed Virgin.”

The prayer to St. Michael the Archangel: “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

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St. Serra now has Mass live on Facebook!

ALL Public Masses have been SUSPENDED until further notice.

St. Junipero Serra Parish will be live on Facebook for the following Masses:

9:30 AM - English on Sunday
11:00 AM - Spanish on Sunday

8:00 AM - English during the week.

You can "tune-in" here: https://www.facebook.com/SJSPLancaster/

Although Our Lady’s Chapel continues to be open until further notice—there should never be more than ten there at a time.

Remember the fact that we can make Spiritual Communions when the sacrament is not available. Use these or your own words: “Lord, I am not able to receive you now sacramentally. Enter into my heart. I embrace you as already there and unite myself to you. Never let me be separated from you.”

Weddings and Funerals will be limited drastically in attendance.

Baptisms are postponed.

Stations of the Cross and the Easter Food Blessing are also cancelled.

Confessions are now cancelled until further notice.

Remember that when the sacrament of penance is not available, one should present one’s sorrow directly to God and say a good Act of Contrition. Sins, including mortal ones, are forgiven. When opportunity arises, mention the latter in your next confession just to keep yourself honest. A very simple Act of Contrition that is found in the Rite of Penance is: “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”


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