Dear parishioners, the social distancing now required by law and to keep ourselves and one another safe means that for the time being we will not be celebrating Mass here in the parish, either on Sunday or weekdays. Bishop Anthony has decided this for the whole diocese, and many dioceses throughout Australia are doing likewise. Many, but not all other parish gatherings are also suspended.
We don’t know how long this arrangement will be in place. The situation is still evolving and we will continue to comply with what health authorities and government ask of us.
Many of us might be concerned about the obligation to attend Mass. Bishop Anthony has now dispensed us all from this obligation. For those of you interested in the detail, items 1247 and 87.1 of Canon Law deal with this.
Our Lady of Dolours Church will be open for prayer, usually from 7.30am to 8.30pm each day. It continues to be a quiet place where you and all the people of Chatswood are welcome to spend time in prayer.
Many of us will feel the loss of sharing in the Mass and receiving Holy Communion. I encourage you to draw strength from the many times that you have shared in the Eucharist recently. Think of it this way: our bodies require Vitamin C every day as we cannot store it, and excess is flushed from our bodies each day. But the protein we eat becomes muscle which is part of us for a long time after the meal is eaten, and we can survive a long time without consuming more protein. Let us think of the Eucharist in this latter way, as something which has built us up in the love and grace of God, from which we can continue to draw strength from even if we are deprived of it for a time.
It is good however to keep a routine and rhythm of prayer in our lives, especially when many other activities are now on hold. Many people already watch Mass for You at Home on Channel Ten on Sunday mornings at 6am. This can also be accessed at https://10play.com.au/mass-for-you-at-home.
For weekday Mass see
https://www.northsydneycatholics.com/spirituality/liturgy/mass-on-demand or search “cathnews Mass on demand” on YouTube for this.
Weddings, funerals and baptisms can all proceed as planned, as long as the total number of people doesn’t exceed 100 people.
Small groups of people are still welcome to come to the church for prayer together, as long as we observe the government’s guidelines of staying 1.5 metres apart and with small numbers of people. This means that we can continue to offer:
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursdays from 9am – 12pm and 7pm – 8pm, and Saturdays 9am – 10.30am.
Stations of the Cross during Lent on Fridays at 9.30am and 7.30pm.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation on Thursdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 9.30am, or by appointment, though no longer in the confined space of the confessional.
People who have been coming together to pray the rosary and novenas in the church can continue to do so.
However, the intention of Bishop Anthony’s directives is not that we all gather in the church building at the usual times to do everything except for Mass, but rather we move the focus of our prayer life to the domestic church, that is, our homes and our families (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1655-58). This difficult time is going to call us forth to live and pray more creatively. There are Christians in many countries who rarely if ever get to experience Mass, yet who continue to be extraordinarily committed disciples of Jesus. May we grow closer to Christ and to one another in new and surprising ways.
I encourage you to continue to pray each day and to seek the Holy Spirit in these new circumstances. You may already have a disciplined prayer life, in which case, continue to pray in whatever way works for you. If you find prayer a struggle, as many people do, I recommend https://pray-as-you-go.org/ which offers at 10-15 minute reflection and meditation each day upon the daily scripture readings, and some great prayers for particular circumstances such as loneliness, grief and depression under “prayer tools”. Access it via your browser or install the free app.
In the weeks ahead we will find ways to offer you more resources to allow you to pray on your own and with your family.
We can confirm that the following groups and ministries are on hold until further notice:
- Community Dinners
- Children’s Atrium
- Seniors’ Group
- Christian Meditation
- English Language Conversation class
Other small groups who can meet and observe social distancing can still come together. Each group or ministry leader will contact their members.
We want to know if any of our people are sick and need support – even if that is just a friendly phone call. Let the parish team know by phoning 9410 9000 or email@example.com. Members of the parish team will be available to call and visit people who are in need. Fr Jim will also be available for Skype conversations on firstname.lastname@example.org . We will still visit the housebound sick and elderly who request it.
May God be with you and your family.
Fr Jim McKeon
March 19th 2020