Prayer among deadly days

One of my morning rituals for some time now has been, in the wee hours of the morning before dawn, to pray the morning prayer (lauds) of Office of the Dead. It is one of the prayer cycles for the repose of a soul found in the Divine Office of the Catholic Church, also called the “Liturgy of the Hours.”  You can find versions online. The morning prayer consists of Psalm 51; Isaiah 38:10-14, 17-20; Psalm 146; a reading from 1 Thessalonians 4; the Canticle of Zechariah found in Luke 1:68-79; intercessions for the dead; an Our Father; and final prayer.

I began doing this a while ago as the death toll associated with the pandemic continued to rise.

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Our Common Good

Recently I have written several posts about the common good as it pertains to wearing masks. Last night on the news a young man said that he didn’t like people telling him what to do and he didn’t see the need to wear masks. It wasn’t a clip from summer time, it was recorded in the midst of this massive second wave of infections nationwide. It just strikes me as an overly libertarian view that does not consider there is a common good. And the common good is a matter of our faith.

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Passing on

A large regional trauma center hospital (more than 1,000 beds) was located within the boundaries of my former parish. The hospital, while having a wonderful chaplain staff, did not have a Catholic priest on the staff and so we priests in the parish took care of the sick and dying, in addition to our usual parish responsibilities. Over the course of more than 13 years assigned to the parish, I easily saw more than 10,000 patients.  Most who recovered, some who did not. For those individuals and their families who experienced the great passing on, it was a loss, a sorrow and especially when the young died, a tragedy. Continue reading

Next Steps

I think there was a spark of hope announced recently when Pfizer announced the results of its COVID-19 vaccine trials with 90% effectiveness as a vaccination. There are ten other companies that are in final stages of trials for their product. Certainly welcomed news in an otherwise dismal on-going reports of skyrocketing new infections, increasing positivity rates, a new wave of deaths expected in the typical 2-3 week lag, and (for me) discouraging reports of pockets of people and communities that refuse to wear masks. Their logic escapes me.

… and then there are the next steps

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Communion and Covid

In the course of celebrating Mass we come to the distribution of Communion – during these times of the coronavirus pandemic. At my parish many precautions are taken as part of the distribution of Holy Communion: sanitizing hands of the minister, wearing masks, standing behind a plexiglass shield with a hand pass through – and the Bishop has asked that all the faithful please receive in the hand and not on the tongue. Still we try to be accommodating as best we can. If someone want to receive on the tongue, I will ask them to receive in the hands, but if they insist, I simply ask them to wait until the end of the line so that they are the last to receive. They can then receive on the tongue, following which I am able to again sanitize my hands. Continue reading

Perception, priorities, and possible paths

For the first 70 days of the pandemic when the area church’s shutdown, my days were long and demanding for a whole variety of reasons. Eventually we hit the steady-state of a new normal. I took a breath and decided to take up reading. I had long had Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” on my “I want to get around to reading” list. The promo for the book is “Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted.”  In other words, why did some societies collapse while other survived. It is not a short read, not overly academic, but was an engaging narrative even if “slow” at times. Continue reading

Figuring things out

It is Memorial Day 2020. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost a loved one who died while actively serving their country. In the morning, before the sun was up, I celebrated a private Mass (lots of those these days!) for all those we honor on this day, for my Naval Academy classmates who have already gone on to God’s bright glory, and in thanksgiving for all our parishioners who have served and are serving their country. God’s blessings be upon all. Continue reading

Finding our way

Today our parish will offer our first public Mass in some 60 days. It is not as simple as opening the doors to the church and celebrating in the usual way. There are limitations on the number of people that can be admitted. We have roped off every other pew (actually we used ribbon) and limited access to only the main aisle. We are required to have ushers at the door equipped with a counter so that once we reach the prescribed number of people, no further entry will be allowed. Continue reading