Now that we have turned the clocks ahead, we have at least an hour more of daylight before the sun goes down and even in the morning the sun is coming up a little earlier every day. As we read weather reports we see the one thing that we can know for sure is when the sun will rise and set. Some weather reports tell us that there is a forty or fifty percent chance of rain. At times we hope to see that the sixty or fifty percent chance of no rain will happen instead. The readings for Sunday speak about sight, both physical sight with our eyes and mental sight with our minds and hearts. As a nation at this time, we feel we are in darkness. Churches are closed, schools are closed, businesses are closed, and we are told avoid crowds. While is it prudent and necessary to take all the precautions we can to avoid the coronavirus, the whole atmosphere we live and thrive in every day is now filled with worry, tension, and concern. Whenever our normal routines are changed unexpectedly beyond our control we long to SEE a light that will bring us at least hope if not back to our normal routine. While we take our physical ability and gift of sight for granted, we also want peace and a remedy for what causes us to see sadness, disappointment, tension, and fear in our lives.
While we can no longer go to Sunday Mass or weekday Mass until April 15th, in no way does that lessen our need to experience the love of God and His life-giving presence. In reality, with all the businesses closed down, live entertainment shuttered, and sports events cancelled, we do have more "free" time. This is a wonderful opportunity to take some extra time to pray, read the Bible or other spiritual books. There is so much available on Formed (https://stpatricksmithtown.formed.org) and the daily and Sunday readings on the USCCB (United Conference of Catholic Bishops) website. The USCCB website also has all the books of the Bible you can easily read online. I also hope to have of one of the weekday Masses we priests will celebrate in private live streamed through the internet every day. I hope to have that set up through our website by the time you read this column. Be assured the Mass intentions booked for each day will be honored at the private Masses said by us, the priests of St. Patrick's. We spend so much time on our electronic devices going on countless sites. Now is a good time to feed ourselves spiritually. I find the more I read and reflect, the stronger my faith becomes and the more fruitful my prayer. We surf the internet constantly. Do yourself a favor and ride the wave that will feed your faith life. In this crisis people think there will not be enough paper goods to go around which has led to hoarding. I invite you to use this time to nourish your faith. What better use of this "down time" from our normal routines can we find?
Our Parish Lenten Project is to pray for a deeper respect for life and an end to abortion in our nation and in our town. Altering our life style causes tension (as the concern for the coronavirus shows), but also sparks creativity and new ways to live more fully. Since January 22, 1973 abortion has been legal in our nation. This evil has taken the lives of more than 60 million children since then and at this point kills more than 2,400 babies a day. Let us not be sidetracked from what is the greatest crisis we have ever seen in our lifetime. With the extra time we have we can pray a rosary or a decade of the rosary every day for life. You can join with people of our parish who pray in front of Planned Parenthood on Maple Avenue in Smithtown every Tuesday from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. I join with those present from 7:00 to 8:00 AM on Tuesday mornings. How good it is to be with those filled with the same concern and hope I have. The sun is just coming up then and we are there as lights in front of a very evil place. While you might be hesitant to stand and pray in public, let me assure you it is energizing, inspiring, and so good to be with those gathered. And statistics show that many times when women come for an abortion and people are praying in front of the facility, they turn around and do not go in. Everyone's prayers and concerns make a difference.
I hope and pray this time of "crisis" not only heightens our awareness of what we need to do to keep the virus in check, and that this will be a time where we find the peace, hope, love, and strength we can only see in God and through, with, and in Him to make that peace, hope, love, and strength present in our community. I conclude with this inspiring prayer from St. Ignatius of Loyola:
"O Christ Jesus When all is darkness And we feel our weakness and helplessness, Give us the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your Strength. Help us to have perfect trust In Your protecting love and strengthening power, So that nothing may frighten or worry us. For, living close to you We shall see Your Hand, Your Purpose, Your Will in all things."BACK TO LIST