Mid-Week Message from Fr. Gerard - April 1, 2020

My Good Friends, 

I give thanks for Fr. Bill in the rectory and my two dogs Bones and Elly for company in this most unusual time for everyone. I do hope you are all coping and, like me, praying for a return to normality. Of course, many are worried about jobs, income, bills, stability, and ultimately health. In this time of uncertainty, we’ve got to trust in God for patience, even in the midst of cross-bearing.

God is with us even though at times we might doubt his presence.  God is with us in our homes, in our worries and fears. GOD IS WITH US.

When I walk with the dogs every morning I pray for an end to this crisis. The very things we took for granted in the past, even small little things we are longing for now! This moment in our lives, this sense of the unknown, this longing for normality, might be a true awakening of the more important things in life, like the importance of family. For me I have been more aware of the fact I live 6000 miles away from my family in Ireland. In fact, the other day Fr. Bill asked me a question which at the time I could not answer. He asked, “What happens if I have symptoms?  What must I do?"

I asked a friend of mine and he told me, ''Gerry, you need to become Gerry ‘Florence Nightingale’ O Brien.” Yes, I would take care of Fr. Bill and also get him to call his GP for an assessment. These are all real-life situations for all of us who maybe live alone. It’s very important to have someone to turn to. Our Team Refuge volunteers put this into action every time they make calls to our senior parishioners; thank you so much for this wonderful faith-filled outreach.

I have witnessed so many families with their children out on their daily walks. We now have so much time on our hands that it’s important to use it wisely and I think parents are doing a wonderful job with their kids. Kids in their innocence look happy because of the quality time with parents. 

I bet you can recall seeing entire families at a restaurant in the past all checking their cell phones and no conversation. Nowadays I think people are talking more, observing more even in the midst of the crisis. I have noticed so many people saying hello on my walks -- across streets, people smiling, people acknowledging.

Are people valuing the treasure we have in humanity, in our environment, in beauty, friendships, family, faith, unity and peace?  I think I am more than ever before: the beauty of a chat with Fr. Bill, listening to some music, having a cup of coffee, watching flowers grow, pulling weeds in the garden, looking at the clouds, enjoying the wind, being aware of a bird in song, watching a butterfly, or children playing with their parents, flying a kite, being aware of silence. God is in the midst of all this; maybe it would be good for all of us to be at peace with ourselves, to value the beauty around us, to acknowledge all those who look out for us, to give thanks for what we have, and to trust God all will be well.

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday throughout the universal church. Let us Pray for Pope Francis and all Catholic Churches as we begin the holiest week of the year. God is with us even though we will celebrate differently than anytime else in the past. Our Faith is stronger than all we are experiencing; our Faith gives us strength to stand firm with the Lord and go forward with HOPE.

Once again, I thank all those including myself who have signed up for our online-giving program called Faith Direct. I ask you to consider giving online to your parish church to help us keep this community vibrant. We have noticed more parishioners have signed up in the past few weeks and hopefully more will be inspired to give. Our parish staff are working on reduced hours; please pray for them. 

Remember we’re Safer-at-Home!

Love, Fr. Gerard

 

 In my homily last Sunday I referenced this beautiful message from Bill Gates:

What is the Corona / Covid-19 Virus Really Teaching Us?

I’m a strong believer that there is a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens, whether that is what we perceive as being good or being bad.

As I meditate upon this, I want to share with you what I feel the Corona/ Covid-19 virus is really doing to us:

1. It is reminding us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we are. This disease treats us all equally, perhaps we should to. If you don’t believe me, just ask Tom Hanks.

2. It is reminding us that we are all connected and something that affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that the false borders that we have put up have little value as this virus does not need a passport. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression.

3. It is reminding us of how precious our health is and how we have moved to neglect it through eating nutrient poor manufactured food and drinking water that is contaminated with chemicals upon chemicals. If we don’t look after our health, we will, of course, get sick.

4. It is reminding us of the shortness of life and of what is most important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those who are old or sick. Our purpose is not to buy toilet roll.

5. It is reminding us of how materialistic our society has become and how, when in times of difficulty, we remember that it’s the essentials that we need (food, water, medicine) as opposed to the luxuries that we sometimes unnecessarily give value to.

6. It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is and how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and to strengthen our family unit.

7. It is reminding us that our true work is not our job, that is what we do, not what we were created to do. Our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other and to be of benefit to one another.

8. It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us that no matter how great we think we are or how great others think we are, a virus can bring our world to a standstill.

9. It is reminding us that the power of freewill is in our hands. We can choose to cooperate and help each other, to share, to give, to help and to support each other or we can choose to be selfish, to hoard, to look after only our self. Indeed, it is difficulties that bring out our true colors.

10. It is reminding us that we can be patient, or we can panic. We can either understand that this type of situation has happened many times before in history and will pass, or we can panic and see it as the end of the world and, consequently, cause ourselves more harm than good.

11. It is reminding us that this can either be an end or a new beginning. This can be a time of reflection and understanding, where we learn from our mistakes, or it can be the start of a cycle which will continue until we finally learn the lesson we are meant to.

12. It is reminding us that this Earth is sick. It is reminding us that we need to look at the rate of deforestation just as urgently as we look at the speed at which toilet rolls are disappearing off of shelves. We are sick because our home is sick.

13. It is reminding us that after every difficulty, there is always ease. Life is cyclical, and this is just a phase in this great cycle. We do not need to panic; this too shall pass.

14. Whereas many see the Corona/ Covid-19 virus as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a “great corrector.”

It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to us if we will learn them or not.

***

The Archbishop will celebrate the Chrism Mass (Blessing of the Holy Oils) in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on April 6, 2020, at 7 P.M. Instead of attending, priests and the faithful are encouraged to view the Cathedral’s livestream of the Mass. Cathedral Live Stream Channel

 

Catholic services are not available until late in April. Please consider providing your Easter donation to the church office. Faith Direct will charge your donation on April 6 if you designate one now; otherwise you may give a one-time gift with Easter as the designation.

 

OLR Church Office (562) 498-6641 -- voice messages only

5195 Stearns Street, Long Beach, CA 90815

Betty Guevara, Parish Secretary --- betty@start.olrs.org

Team Refuge -- Tony McKeon, Coordinator (949) 874-6097

Faith Direct -- Enroll at  https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966 or contact Patti Strait for assistance (562) 597-5645 or pattistrait00@gmail.com