March 28, 2020 Column Father De Celles

OUR CROSS FOR THE EASTER TRIDUUM. I’m very sorry to announce that because of the Coronavirus, Bishop Burbidge, in obedience to a special directive from the Vatican and in consultation with his priests, has announced that pastors have the choice of either cancelling or only privately celebrating (i.e., the priests alone, with NO congregation) the Masses, liturgies and devotions of the Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Private celebrations may be livestreamed.

            This is almost a crushing blow to all of us. I love the liturgies of the Triduum, and I love for you to take part in them. Good Friday Veneration of the Cross is particularly moving and important to all of us. So I’m not sure quite what to do—I can’t imagine Good Friday or Easter Vigil liturgies without the people. I don’t even know how to do it without you. And I can’t imagine how livestreaming could even begin to capture the event. So pray for me as  I  discern.

            As for Easter Sunday itself, I will certainly livestream Mass at 11 am.

LIVESTREAMED DAILY MASS. If you haven’t heard, I will be livestreaming my private Mass every day, Sunday through Saturday, until Wednesday, April 8 (inclusive). Just go to top of the homepage of the website and click “coronavirus updates,” and then “view Mass online.” The Mass times are 8:30am Monday through Friday, and 11am Saturday and Sunday. You can also watch the video after the livestreaming.

DAILY EXPOSITION AND ADORATION. Without public Mass or distribution of Holy Communion, and with a limit on 10 persons in the church at any time, it seems a good idea to schedule, from now until Holy Wednesday, Daily Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the church, from 9am to 9pm. Please sign up for a time on our website ( so we can be sure to have at least 2 adorers present at all times. Come pray to Our Eucharistic Lord for the end of the coronavirus, and for the solace of all affected by it. All are welcome, even without signing up, but the 10 person limit still applies—please self-enforce.

THE PRIEST’S CROSS. The coronavirus has been a heavy cross to all of us, in one way or another, although, as of now, I am not aware of any parishioner diagnosed with the virus (thanks be to God!). I pray for you all daily, and I hope you all pray for each other, and sense the communion we have with one another through our prayers and communion with Christ and His Church.

            But if you will allow me, let me tell you of a particular cross your priests have to bear. Not merely sentimentally, but spiritually, I feel like a father whose children have been taken from him. Struggling to figure out how to help you, but feeling so inept at this long distance effort.

            I’ve been thinking and praying about this a lot, and thinking of writing something up about it, and then my old friend and classmate Fr. Paul Scalia, beat me to it. In his excellent article, published last Sunday at “The Catholic Thing” (, he writes in part:

“Here is another painful exile: that of the priest from his people. The faithful throughout the world suffer the pain of life without the Mass. Priests suffer the pain of life without their people. Those men have given their lives for Christ’s flock. Now they struggle to understand their lives apart from that flock. Tend the flock of God in your midst, Saint Peter exhorts the Church’s pastors. (1Pt 5:2) But what to do when the flock is no longer in your midst. . .and not allowed to be?

“The whole situation sets in stark relief this truth about us parish priests: we are ordained propter homines – to serve the people of God. Our lives don’t make sense without a people to serve or a flock to tend. When asked what he thought about the laity, Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman famously observed that “the Church would look foolish without them.” As it turns out, it is we priests who look most foolish in that scenario…

“This also reveals that all our technology, which we tend to see as the evangelical solution, is insufficient, just a stopgap. It is a fascinating paradox that in this situation we both depend more on our technology and more deeply know its limits. As useful as it is …it cannot actually put us in touch with one another. It only tides us over until authentic human communication – unmediated, face-to-face, person-to-person – can be recovered.

“There is no substitute for the shepherd’s presence among his people. And a priest’s heart cannot be content with a virtual connection. It longs for the real….

“One last rose drawn from these thorns: an increased appreciation for our people’s devotion. The lack of a public Mass on Sunday will greatly impact the lives of all Catholics, whether they realize it or not. But many do realize it. They long for the Mass, they still come to the church to pray, and they desire to receive all that a priest desires to give. To see their pain and longing should encourage us to be worthy of them….”

SPECIAL CORONAVIRUS PLENARY INDULGENCE. On March 19 the Vatican released a decree granting a special plenary indulgence available to all of us during this pandemic. Particularly noteworthy is that it relaxes “the usual conditions” for receiving a plenary indulgence “(sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions).” Rather than fulfilling these “within several days before or after the work” this indulgence merely requires “the will to fulfill the usual conditions ….as soon as possible.”

The Plenary Indulgence is to 3 groups of people. The first two of these are 1) those “suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes,” and 2) “Health care workers…and all those who…care for the sick of Coronavirus.”

The work to perform is described as: “with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters…”

The third group is basically any Catholic who performs one of these prescribed works: “offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles