EASTER IV Message
Again, I pray that you are all well and healthy. We are far from returning to normal, but I think we would all agree that we are getting closer to that point. While we cannot ignore those who are still sick and will become ill yet, we are grateful that the overall number of COVID-19-related infections and deaths are decreasing, pointing toward some “light at the end of the tunnel.” Hopefully, we are still being vigilant about our safety. And perhaps, just as important, patient!
My hope is that we are also using this time as an extended Lent, where we continue to work on the things that the Lord would like from us: prayer, deeper appreciation of the Sacraments and Scriptures. While we can think of ourselves as being in “the desert,” often symbolically representing a place of fasting and prayer, we can also think of it as a “spiritual training ground,” where we prepare for something that affects us long-term.
A good question to ask ourselves is: How will we be better when all this is over? What are we doing right now, during these “desert” days that will help us in the future? We don’t want to waste these days, as they can use helpful and useful in learning, growing and practicing our faith. Do we need to work on our patience, our charity, our kindness, our prayerfulness? Learning new recipes and foreign languages and catching up on Netflix programs are good and help us through this difficult period, but will they help us get closer to Heaven? I would ask all to consider this: if the crisis were to end today, would we all be in a better place spiritually? Let’s not let this time go to waste; instead, let’s be better because of it!
This Sunday, we will have Mass at 9:00 am as we have in the weeks past. At this Mass, we will have the beautiful traditional ceremony of the May Crowning. This is a traditional devotion of placing a crown of flowers on the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, recognizing her as the Queen of Heaven and earth and as our Queen and Mother. May, of course, is the perfect time to do it, as it is the month of Mary. This is also an appropriate time as we petition our Blessed Mother to rescue us from this pandemic and to intercede on our behalf and the world’s behalf. While we will be honoring her with the crowning on Sunday, May 3rd, on Friday, May 1st, the Bishops of the United States will be consecrating our nation to the maternal care of the Blessed Mother.
Also, included in this bulletin is a message from Cardinal Joseph Tobin, our Archbishop, who very pastorally writes why it is good and important that we turn to Mary during these difficult days. He gives us “Five Reasons We Turn to Mary During Times of Crisis.” I recommend that you prayerfully read it.
My dear Parishioners, I am optimistic that we will get out of this “pause” and that we will be able to join around the “table of the Lord,” our altar at St. Cassian Church, for Mass and the Sacraments and be in each other’s presence soon. We have Mary, all the angels and Saints, and each other praying for us to the Lord. With a team like that and with our own steadfastness in our spiritual training, we cannot lose.
Rev. Marc A. Vicari,
Palm Sunday Bulletin Letter
Greetings to all of you and I pray you are all well. And when I say “well,” I mean physically well, spiritually well and emotionally well. I know these days can be very trying, even very boring for many, but please make sure that you are taking care of yourselves and going through your regular routines as much as possible. It is important that we keep doing what we usually do as much as possible so that there is a semblance of normalcy during these tough times. I tell this to the seventh-grade class that I teach each day that they should get up take a shower, comb their hair and be ready for class so that things feel as normal as possible. I encourage everyone to stick with their regular routines.
Last Sunday at 9:00 am we were able to livestream the Mass to the Parish and beyond. I was thinking how when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, would he ever in his wildest dreams imagine that it would be used to visually broadcast a religious service to people watching at home? Yet, that is what we did last week and we are planning on livestreaming this Sunday again and beyond at 9:00 am. I do not want to plan too far ahead because things are changing, especially with directives from the Archdiocese, but I will keep you as up-to-date as possible with Masses and services, especially regarding the rest of Holy Week after Palm Sunday.
Technically, you recall, we call it Passion Sunday because it is the week that we celebrate and remember the Passion, the suffering of Jesus Christ for our sins. We start the Mass with the simple Gospel of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowds. The Mass, of course, ends with Our Lord being crucified. We bless the Palms which are symbolic of the palms that the residents of Jerusalem laid on the ground as a way of celebrating Jesus in the city. Unfortunately, the blessed palms from this Sunday’s Mass will not be available for the Parish, as the Cardinal has asked that while we will bless them, we cannot distribute them until a later date, but make an earnest effort to virtually attend all of the Holy Week events. Below is the schedule as of now.
- Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) Mass: 9:00 AM
- Holy Thursday Mass 7:30 PM
- Good Friday Stations of the Cross Service: 7:30 PM
- Easter Sunday Mass: 9:00 AM
All these will be broadcast or livestreamed on both Facebook as well as YouTube which you can use the below URL. The addition of YouTube is just recent and I am glad to be able to provide this alternative to Facebook, as I know not everyone has it (me, included!).
The St.CassianOutreach2020 will continue to be making phone calls to parishioners to make sure that everyone is ok and also to see if anyone needs anything, i.e., groceries, prescriptions, etc. At the same time, while the Parish Office is closed to the public, we have continued to have a staff member to answer the phones, so if you need anything please call. You may also call if you have any prayer requests, particularly for the sick. I have been informed a those who are sick or family members who are not feeling well and I have included them in my daily Mass offerings. At the same time, please realize that if there are any emergencies, I can be reached at the emergency number: 201-704-7988. Emergencies only, please.
Many have mailed in their envelopes for their church offering and others have signed up to support the church during this time through Faith Direct. Thank you so much for your support for those who have continued their financial support. I understand that it might be hard for some, especially because of your loss or reduction in revenues. If you are able, please mail in your envelopes or even sign up for Faith Direct (www.faithdirect.net and use code NJ514). This will be very helpful to maintain the functioning of the Parish.
Lastly, please make sure that you are praying for one another, the sick, and the end of this crisis. The Pope is offering a plenary indulgence (yes, we still believe in them) to those who pray for an end to this crisis. You can find out more info by cutting and pasting the link below (“Indulgence”). Perhaps it is something you can read and do as a spiritual exercise during these quiet days. At the same time, since we are not all able to receive the Eucharist, perhaps you can make “Spiritual Communion” in the absence of the Eucharist, as it is the “desire” to receive the grace of the Eucharist as well as make an offering to the Lord. Read more about Spiritual Communion in this bulletin, as there is a two-page article on it.
In the meantime, be assured of my prayers for all of you, especially the sick and vulnerable, as well as for all our Country and our civic and Church leaders, that we will quickly recover from this difficult time.
Prayers and blessings,
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
An update from Father Marc
I hope this note finds you well and healthy and anticipating the approaching Paschal Mysteries. Even though we are celebrating Masses in an empty church, we are praying for all of your Mass intentions and especially for an end to this health crisis. I am hopeful and confident that we will be back normal before we know it.
I use this note as a way of touching base with you and updating you about what is going on with our Parish. Perhaps you have already received an email from me from “StCassianOutreach2020@gmail.com” as a way of touching base and to make sure that no one who has any needs not cared for. As I said in last week’s bulletin and in the email, if there is anyone who needs anything such as food, prescriptions, baby needs, etc., and is not able to get them because of mobility issues or because of children/family obligations, please send an email to the above email address or call the office. Someone will reply to your email and we have someone in the Parish office each day from 9 am to 3 pm. I do not want anyone to “slip through the cracks.”
While we certainly consider the situation a difficult one, we can also recognize that there is some good that can come from the “Stay at Home” policy that Governor Murphy has mandated. For example, so often we say that there are certain things that we would like to do “if only we had the time.” We often list things like exercise, praying more, reading the Scriptures and spending more time with our family, just to mention a couple. God, in His divine wisdom, has now given us the time! Spending time with families is the most important thing that families can do together and now we are forced to do that. I hear and see that families are eating meals together again; they are exercising and playing together, and hopefully, praying together. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these things that we are doing now that we have long desired to do are things that we will continue to do once we are all back to normal? This can be an extraordinarily fruitful time for our family life and spiritual life if we take advantage of this time that the Lord has given us.
Speaking of using time well, there is a wonderful app for your phone or tablet that might be useful in growing your spiritual life during these quiet days at home. There is an app called “Hallow” which is free and you can download it to your devices and it offers various types of reflections and prayers that are interactive. It is free and you have an option to upgrade if you would like. It might be the perfect way for you to boost your prayer life.
Another way that you can continue to prepare for the Paschal Mysteries and the Easter Season is to make a visit to our church during the days. The church building is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed all day on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This past Saturday, as always, the Sacrament of Reconciliation was available and it was nice to have a good number of people come for the Sacrament. (To be safe, the priest will sit in the front of the open church.) Perhaps going to Confession and receiving God’s forgiveness and grace this Lent is something that would be good for you.
I also want to use this note to give you an update on a few things. Firstly, we have received about $51,000 or 66% of our Parish goal of $78,000 for our Archdiocesan Annual Appeal. Thank you to those who have made contributions to the Appeal. Secondly, obviously, our offertory has been down quite a bit since there are no public Masses and collections, so I want to encourage those of you who are able during these very difficult financial times to please mail in your envelopes to the Parish office, or better yet, to use or sign up for Faith Direct, our online giving resource. Electronic giving is easy. By enrolling in online giving, you will simplify your monthly budgeting and provide St. Cassian Parish with consistent, reliable support. Please visit www.faithdirect.net and use church code NJ514. In any case, I simply ask parishioners to give whatever they can during this crisis
Finally, while there are several ways to view online streaming Masses already (the Cardinal’s Mass on Youtube, while Relevant Radio and EWTN all stream), St. Cassian Parishioners have requested that we stream a Mass on Sundays. Therefore, we are going Facebook Livestream Mass on Sunday at 9:00 am and if you would like to view it, please go to our Parish Facebook page, “St. Cassian Catholic Church.”
Please know that I am praying for the entire Parish, especially that you will all remain safe and that this “pause” in our routines will both end soon as well as produce great fruit.
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
FATHER VICARI’S RESPONSE TO THE ABUSE CRISIS IN THE CHURCH
As many of you know, these past few weeks have been a difficult time for the Catholic Church, especially in the United States and in our Archdiocese.
Just in the last few weeks we have heard of credible allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that led to his resignation as a cardinal. Then, just last week we heard about a grand jury report from Pennsylvania that named hundreds of priests with allegations against them in the state of Pennsylvania alone. Many of the allegations are extremely troubling, to say the least.
Like many of you who have expressed your feelings during these dark days, I, too, am hurt, embarrassed, scandalized, and angered by what has been revealed. I find it unfathomable that priests entrusted to the pastoral care of their parishioners, including children, would commit such heinous acts. I have always stated that there is absolutely no place in the church for those who take advantage of the vulnerable.
At the same time, I am disappointed by some of our leadership, mandated to oversee our dioceses, who did not make wise or pastoral decisions in dealing with these problems over the years. And now, many of these accusations which are decades-old, are just coming to light.
Most of all, however, I am saddened that children have been the victims of such awful abuse and have to live with the scars and wounds caused by the sins of so many of our clergy. No child or adult should have to suffer like that.
This is not the Church that Christ instituted. This is not how the Kingdom of God is built. This is not what those priests were called to do in their vocations. This is not the Catholic Church as you or I should have to know it.
While we are all angered and saddened and disappointed here at St. Cassian Church, we will not be discouraged or slow down our work of building the Kingdom of God. We will continue the good things that we do, recognizing that there is evil in the world, but it will not stop our mission of growing in holiness, celebrating the sacraments and glorifying God through Jesus Christ, I can promise you that.
Please pray for healing in our church, particularly for those who have been hurt and continue to suffer.