All things work unto good for those who love God
Dear Corpus Christi Chapel parishioners,
At the end of this letter follows the most recent instructions from our Bishop, Frank Dewane, suspending regularly scheduled masses from this Friday, March 20th, until after Easter.
The decision is obviously hard for us, but one taken for avoiding spreading contagions during this time. It is thus a question of a prudential decision seeking the common good. Although one might disagree with the measure or estimation of risks involved, as a society such decisions correspond to the public authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical in their proper sphere. It is thus beyond our control as individuals, and we must seek the will of God who by His divine providence directs all things whether causing or permitting them, knowing that “all things work unto good for those who love God.”
As the Bishop mentions, we should fortify ourselves with Spiritual Communion and Prayer. I again remind you of the daily transmission of Mass from many of our FSSP run apostolates, including our parish church in Sarasota at http://www.livemass.net/. One can also find the texts of daily mass there for one’s meditation. Likewise our sermons over the past 2 years are available on our website https://www.corpuschristifssp.com/sermons if one wishes to review the instruction given on the occasion of previous Sunday masses. Thus we see no need to transmit our private masses as we don’t have our own church, but will be offering up our private masses for the publicly scheduled intentions.
Again as we don’t have our own church, our pastoral ministry will be limited for the time being to any private requests for the sacraments for those who are most in need. We are not able to schedule any such events where a large number of people would thus gather, according to the same prudential guidelines being taken at this time.
Let us remember the words of our Lord to St. Paul amidst his difficult trial- “My grace is sufficient for thee, for virtue is made perfect in weakness.” Although the sacraments are a most efficacious source of grace, they are not the only means. The practice of virtues and prayer likewise cause the soul to grow in grace. This is what we have been studying in the course on the science of sanctity in our adult catechesis this year. You can catch up on the classes via the video links at https://www.corpuschristifssp.com/catechesis-videos or audio at https://www.corpuschristifssp.com/catechesis-audio The great work they are based on- The Theology of Christian Perfection, by Fr. Royo Marin, is also available here.
Recall that we never have an excuse to sin, as God’s grace is sufficient for us in every moment to not only avoid sin but to grow in grace. By sanctifying grace the Most Holy Trinity dwells in our soul as our intimate friend, whose presence we can enjoy and adore at every moment and grow in union with Him. Who would say that the presence of God in the soul is not sufficient for them? “You are of God, little children…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4.4). In Him we have the victory over the world the flesh and the devil. I very much recommend the work of Fr. Raul Plus entitled “God within us” (audio here) to more deeply know and appreciate this central reality of the Christian life. Holy Communion, as a sacrament, is a means so as to increase this intimate communion within our soul, in which we should continually advance. God, St. Thomas reminds us, is not limited by the sacraments in the distribution of grace- The Roman Catechism teaches us- "The shepherds of souls should teach their flock that there is not one manner only of receiving the admirable fruits of the sacrament of the Eucharist, but that there are two: sacramental communion and spiritual communion." And spiritual writers comment, "It is, by itself," says Father Faber, " one of the greatest powers of the world." "By it," writes St. Leonard of Port-Maurice, " many souls have attained a high perfection." Jesus wishes to enter your heart every day by sacramental communion; yet even that does not suffice Him; He would come again and again, without ceasing. This divine desire is realized by spiritual communion. "Every time thou desirest Me," He said to St. Mechtilde, "thou dost draw Me to thee. A desire, a sigh, is enough to make thee possess Me." Our Lord charged St. Margaret of Cortona to remind a monk of the word of St. Augustine: "Believe, and thou wilt have eaten;" that is to say, make an act of faith and desire towards the Eucharist, and you will be nourished by that divine food.
There are saints, like St. Anthony of the desert, who were exceptionally permitted to live apart from others as hermits without receiving even the sacraments frequently in favor of seeking a more perfect life by living more intensely dedicated to prayer in solitude and the practice of the evangelical counsels. There are also heroic examples of entire countries persevering in the faith when they were left without priests for many years. (Article here)
It is likewise important to reflect on the spirit of the early Christians who debated whether one who converted and was baptized as an adult could receive a second forgiveness, as it was unthinkable to them that one could voluntarily betray such an infinitely good and loving Lord, whom they had consciously pledged their life too. It is a time for us to reflect on how grateful we should be for the sacraments when we can receive them, and how often we have abused them by not receiving them as a means to grow in grace, but as an excuse to avoid that commitment thinking that we can be forgiven without a true purpose of amendment to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin, to do penance and to amend our lives. And let us recall that an act of contrition made with the perfect motive of sorrow for having offended God whom we love above all things can restore grace to our soul.
I thus recommend that you redouble your efforts to pray and do penance in this holy season of Lent, by establishing your plan of life- daily resolutions, prayer, rosary, spiritual reading, acts of contrition, spiritual communions, in this time in which we will live like Our Lord in the desert in greater solitude. We will have our last public mass today on the feast of St. Joseph, who had to take the Holy Family away from the Temple, where God dwelt with His people, and flee to a pagan land in Egypt to protect the life of the Child Jesus. Let us imitate him and entrust ourselves to Him, that although away from the temple of the Lord, we might grow in grace as he and the Virgin Mary did by their intense love for Jesus, who is present in our soul by sanctifying grace.
“My grace is sufficient for thee,” “and all things work unto good for those who love God.”
Please do not hesitate to contact us in case of need or counsel and please check our website for any forthcoming announcements.
In His loving unfailing providence,
Frs. Romanoski & Passo FSSP
ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION
By St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri
MY Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.
March 18 Letter from Bishop Dewane
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My prayer for you and your family is that you will be kept safe from all harm. With the strength that comes from God, I encourage you to support your neighbors and friends with the Hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. Together, we face the threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak - a crisis that is unprecedented in our lifetime. Still, there is a need to remain flexible and adapt to circumstances, following, as best we can, the guidance of public health officials.
Guidelines have been established that call for further limiting of public gatherings. Therefore, out of pastoral concern for all, and after prayer and discernment, as well as hearing from the priests and the Faithful, I announce that the regularly scheduled Masses and other Liturgical events in Parish Churches in the Diocese of Venice will be suspended from March 20, 2020 until after Easter, when the situation can be re-evaluated. Visitation to Churches to pray is also suspended. Therefore, the Faithful and visitors to the Diocese are dispensed from any obligation to attend Mass during this period.
This is acknowledged as a sacrifice for the Catholic Faithful, who have a great love for the Holy Eucharist and depend on the Most Blessed Sacrament for their spiritual lives. Do recall that Faithful Catholics, throughout the history of the Church, have kept the faith alive through trying times. By prayer and devotion, as well as spiritual solidarity with each other, the life of faith continued to be a source of strength and perseverance during persecutions and other times of public crisis. Tomorrow, on the Feast of St. Joseph, I will dedicate the Diocese of Venice to the care of the Foster Father of Jesus. Let us be united in prayer to St. Joseph for his intercession and protection.
Our Priests have been asked to draw upon the Church's rich tradition of prayer and devotion to ensure that the spiritual life of parishioners is nourished and remains vibrant through means which are prudently adapted to the current circumstances. Our Diocesan website has a list of opportunities to view the celebration of the Holy Mass. Parish websites will also provide other helpful suggestions for how to promote prayerfulness and spiritual communion.
Priests, together with the Catholic Faithful, are asked to make prudent decisions about Weddings and Funerals while observing guidance to limit gatherings. Baptisms will only be celebrated in cases of emergency. The Anointing of the Sick ought to be requested only in genuine need for the dying. Priests are to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and the Faithful when administering the Sacraments to the Sick (i.e. the use of isolation gowns, masks and gloves, as well as following the guidelines of medical professionals). All Confirmations prior to Easter have been postponed, along with penance services. Parish and social events, as well as ministry gatherings, are also suspended. Parishioners, in the event of emergency situations, are invited to communicate with a Priest, Deacon or available staff by phone, or by email.
As your Bishop, I am always edified and grateful for the generosity of the Faithful, particularly at difficult times. Of course, you must consider your own circumstances and how the Coronavirus outbreak has impacted your family. However, it is also necessary to provide for the ministry of the Church, as well as continue to serve the poor and the vulnerable though Catholic Charites. The Catholic Faithful are humbly asked to continue their generous support for our Parishes, Schools, Catholic Charities and the Diocese.
My dear Faithful, be confident that Christ is with us always and that the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph are interceding for us. Take courage and trust in God during this time of many challenges.
Sincerely yours in Christ.
Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of the Diocese of
Venice in Florida