Saint Benedict, Pray For Us
Saint Benedict, Pray For Us--July 12, 2020 COVID-19 Faith Reflection
Good news! I am COVID-19 negative. I was tested last Saturday and received the welcome phone call on Friday.
Out of an abundance of caution, I had gone home on July 1 with a sore throat and some fatigue as in the guidelines from the CDC and the Diocese of Orlando. Perhaps the sore throat was from the Sahara dust in the air, perhaps it was from allergies or from wearing a facemask. All I know is that I now feel better than fine.
Please join me in thanks to Fr Augustine and Fr Bob for presiding at the Masses for me. They kept us going in the church.
I am hugely grateful to the parish staff for its vigilance to keep everyone healthy and able to attend Mass. Working weekends, they sanitize every church pew, door, and handle before every Mass. They keep facemasks and hand sanitizer in steady supply. We close the parish office on Friday so that they can help at the weekend Masses, which means that they do not get the weekend off. They are the best!
Those of you who have a chronic illness or take care of someone who is high-risk can view the Mass through the online livestream. The Sunday obligation remains lifted for the pandemic. The daily Mass recording gets uploaded mid-morning. The Sunday Mass at 9:30 a.m. is available live and as a recording.
The feast day for St. Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism, was Saturday, July 11. Some have said that we now are living like monks, isolated in our homes and shut off from society. There are several lessons to learn from Benedict.
Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy when Roman civilization was crumbling. Barbarian armies from the north overrunning the northern borders, the church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb—sound familiar?
Benedict withdrew to a cave high in the mountains. After three years, he began to gather various groups of monks. Here’s the first lesson: Our strength is in community and common worship. We are not meant to go it alone. God made us for each other and him.
Benedict gradually developed a way of life for holiness summarized by the phrase, "ora et labora", pray and work. Being thrown to the lions or surviving on a grape a day was not for everyone. His rule was a way of life which the average monk or villager could follow to become holy.
To Benedict, God was not a separate category, like food, drink, family, work, and religion. Here is a second lesson: God is always present. God is not present to us only in prayer and spiritual reading (30 minutes daily minimum), Mass (every Sunday), or confession (at least once a year). Pray and work, in that order, keeps us present the whole day to God. Our day becomes praise of God.
The final document written by the Second Vatican Council in 1965 was called
The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World
. It is also known as
Gaudium et Spes
, the first Latin words of the document.
Gaudium et Spes
translated means "the joy and the hope". The full opening sentence of
Gaudium et Spes
is, “The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.”
Our world faces pandemic, economic inequality and struggle, climate change, abortion, relativism, and the breakdown of the family. This is the world that the Church belongs in. The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of our world are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of Saint Benedict and all followers of Christ.
While in quarantine at the rectory, my dog Maxie and I watched some antenna TV. The anxiety of civil unrest, spiking infections, and uncertainty about the start of the school year was like a miasma of anger and fear oozing from the TV screen. Thank goodness for “The Ed Sullivan Show” and old movies. They were a welcome escape. I can see why Benedict headed for his cave.
Being back in the parish in person, though, is where I belong. For that is where Christ and his Church is. And, I missed you!
Saint Benedict, pray for us.
Please pray for our children receiving their First Communion this week. Please pray for our young men and women receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation next week. May the Holy Spirit strengthen their life in Christ and their witness in the world.
We are forming study groups to read the bishops’ pastoral letter about racism. The aim is to understand the bishops’ teaching so that we bring the light of the Gospel to this issue. Join me for a Pastor Chat this Sunday at 5:00-5:30 p.m. on the parish Facebook page. See “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”
Nativity Longwood .
on Sunday, July 12 at 11:00AM