Difficult Times

03-21-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

Dear Parishioners,

Please know that my prayers are with you as we go through this very difficult time of social distancing to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. I know most of us were very devastated when we heard the directive from the Diocese restricting all Masses and parish events involving more than 10 persons. I am sure, for most of us, this is the first time in our lives that we have experienced anything like this. I pray it will be the last time we will be told we cannot go to Mass, especially when we really want to attend. While this is a very painful experience, we can still thank God that the restrictions are not permanent and are not directed toward any particular religion. This is a stressful time for all of us. Be aware of some fake news sources out there that spread rumors and unrealistic fear about the virus. I suggest you pay attention only to the authentic news sources and authorities, such as the new diocesan website created to monitor information and directives on the pandemic (https://dphx.org/StayHealthy/) . Other reliable news sources include the Center for Disease Control, Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Department of Education and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

While I caution everyone from indulging in speculation regarding the cause and effects of the pandemic, I believe this is a wake-up call for us, Catholics, to reflect upon the lessons we have learned from the pandemic and what God is saying to us during this difficult time. I would like to share with you three areas of my reflection on this:

1. This pandemic has revealed to us how closely related we all are as a global village and how much we depend on each other, despite all the human barriers we have set in place. Imagine that what affected one person somewhere in China has now spread to nearly every country within a short amount of time. We have seen the economic meltdown across the world in the past few days. The recent closure of borders between countries and the restrictions on social, economic and religious activities exposes even more just how much we need each other. For me, this is a wake-up call for us to work toward peace and unity in the world.

2. The social distancing measure we are all going through right now has inadvertently made it possible for most families to have more family time together. This also gives us the opportunity to start or reinforce the tradition of praying together in our families. Please give us a call or send an email if you need help finding some specific prayer books, Catholic movies or Catholic Apps. I will be sending out some recommended resources by email in the next few days.

3. In experiencing the current restrictions, this crisis has humbly placed us in a situation where we can put ourselves in the shoes of our brothers and sisters in China and other places who are going through religious persecution and not allowed to attend Mass or even pray in their own homes. In particular, let us pray for an end to the new religious persecution imposed on the Chinese Christians beginning last month, February, denying them permanently of their religious freedom to worship even in their homes. May we never forget to cherish the freedom we have to worship God without fear and to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith.

May God have mercy on us and intervene to bring an end to the pandemic.

Fr. James