All Parishioners Are Invited to Pray with Fr. Mike!
March 28: Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
You can now pray every day with Fr. Mike and your fellow parishioners! Click the link above to access daily recordings of our pastor reading Scripture and prayers from the day’s Mass, a daily meditation, and the prayers of the faithful. You can also watch 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass with Fr. Mike on Facebook, YouTube, or the St. Francis website. Parishioners are also encouraged to pray daily the following prayer from Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Submit Prayer Intentions for Fr. Mike
During the pandemic, Fr. Mike will continue to celebrate Mass in private every day. He will offer the sacrifice on behalf of all parishioners, as well as specific intentions submitted by parishioners. You can submit your prayer intentions in the following ways:
- Click here to submit online
- Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Submit through the myParish app
- Call the parish office at 616-399-1062
The parish staff will also pray for all parishioners and their intentions. The staff is working to serve parishioners during this time of disruption, and to plan ahead in order to bring our parish ministries back better than ever after the pandemic. Please pray for us!
Why Have Mass with No One There?
Why is Fr. Mike celebrating Mass every day, even though no parishioners can be present due to the pandemic? Because Jesus is first and foremost the one acting in the Mass, and all members of his Church receive graces from him whenever the Mass is celebrated, not only when they are present and able to actively participate. Thank you, Lord Jesus!
How to Make a Spiritual Communion
While our current inability to attend Mass is undoubtedly a hardship, Jesus does not leave us without a way to receive him into our hearts. Spiritual communion can never replace reception of the Eucharist or attendance at Sunday Mass, but it does allow us to draw close to our Lord when we cannot receive him sacramentally, and it can be done at any time. The four steps listed above, as well as the following prayer by St. Alphonsus Ligouri, each sum up how to make a spiritual communion:
My Jesus, I believe that thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love thee above all things and I desire thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though thou wert already there, I embrace thee and unite myself wholly to thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from thee.
Historical Perspective on the Pandemic
Reception of Communion and the Church’s Response to Plagues
While our present situation is unusual, it is not unprecedented. In many times and places, the Catholic faithful have not had the opportunity to regularly attend Mass due to priest shortages, persecution, and other factors. Even today, with the modern pastoral practice of frequent Holy Communion, Catholics in mission territories often go weeks or months without a priest to celebrate the Mass. Through much of Church history it was standard for laypeople to receive Holy Communion once a year (this is reflected in the current precept of the Church that binds the faithful to receive the Eucharist at least once a year during Eastertide). During this time when we cannot receive our Lord sacramentally, let us give thanks for our usual access to the Blessed Sacrament, focus on how we can receive him worthily when we once again have the opportunity, and take heart that Christ has brought his people through harder times than this!
Pandemics and plagues are also nothing new in Christian experience. In 1918, the Spanish influenza ravaged the world, killing fifty million people and infecting one third of the global population. This pandemic hit the United States hard. The city of St. Louis was among the most aggressive in combating the virus, virtually shutting down the city to contain the infection. Archbishop John Glennon of St. Louis temporarily waived the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, as Bishop Walkowiak has done in our day. Though the term “social distancing” had not yet been coined, this was essentially their strategy. As a result, the death rate in St. Louis was the lowest among large cities in the United States. We can also draw inspiration from St. Charles Borromeo (pictured), who fearlessly cared for plague victims in Milan in 1576 as the city’s archbishop. St. Charles, pray for us!