How to Serve During the Pandemic
Many people are suffering during this pandemic, and not only those who are sick. Virus-related disruptions are causing hardships for our neighbors. Prayerfully consider what you can do to serve Christ in the poor and vulnerable.
- Check in with your neighbors, fellow parishioners you know, friends, family members, and others who may need assistance, especially those who are most vulnerable during this time (e.g. the homebound and the elderly). Share prayers, words of encouragement, and any concrete aid that you can. This could include shopping, picking up prescriptions, providing meals, helping with childcare, or financial assistance. If you can’t help them yourself, direct them to these resources or others in our community.
- Our parish and school will continue to have financial needs during the pandemic. In fact, we may have to rely on parishioners’ generosity even more in order to provide aid to those seeking assistance. If you will not be able to give in person, please give online. Thank you!
- If you have an idea about how parishioners can help each other during this time of disruption, or if you want to serve, please take the initiative! Contact Cory Lakatos at the parish office to discuss how the parish can facilitate your efforts (firstname.lastname@example.org, 616-399-1062).
- Donate to the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) so our diocesan ministries can continue to serve needy families and individuals.
- Give toward Catholic Relief Services’ anti-coronavirus efforts.
- Help with your local public school’s food distribution program (West Ottawa, Holland Public, or Zeeland Public). St. Francis de Sales Parish is a distribution center for Holland Public Schools, and you can sign up to volunteer by clicking here.
- Volunteer with or donate to Kids’ Food Basket. To view their wish list, click here, or click here to donate online.
- Volunteer with or donate to Meals on Wheels, which will continue to provide meals during this situation.
- Donate food items to the St. Vincent de Paul Center by bringing them to the St. Francis de Sales parking lot between 9 and 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
- Donate financially to the Holland Rescue Mission, volunteer to care for children, or give tangible goods that the shelter needs: Vitamin C in any form, Pedialyte, boxes of Kleenex, digital quick-read thermometers (skin touch or ear), masks, hand sanitizer and wipes, and nonperishable pantry items.
- Volunteer with or donate to the Ottawa County COVID-19 Response.
- During this time of fear and anxiety, share the peace and hope you have in Christ with your family, friends, and other people you know.
How to Pray During the Pandemic
With all public Masses suspended and social distancing keeping us away from the parish, it is more important than ever that we seek the Lord in prayer. It’s also crucial that we pray together in our families, especially on Sundays. Let us intensify our prayer, whether or not we can make it to the church building, and Christ will equip us with everything we need to endure.
- Offer your prayers for those who are sick, those who have died, those who are suffering because of disruptions to their daily lives, those who are afraid, those who are vulnerable, healthcare workers, and government officials tasked with protecting the public.
- Go to www.oll.org/pandemic-prayer to submit a prayer intention for Fr. Mike’s daily Mass, to read the daily Scriptures with Fr. Mike, and to pray daily with your fellow parishioners.
- Watch Sunday and holy day Masses at OLL live at 11 a.m. on our Facebook page (no account required) or later on YouTube.
- Pray in the chapel during regular weekday office hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; see calendar).
- Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturdays from 9-10 a.m. (not on Holy Saturday).
- Download the myParish app to access daily readings, parish updates, and much more.
- Sign up for a free account at formed.org to access Catholic videos, audio talks, ebooks, and more.
- Watch Sunday Mass celebrated at 10 a.m. the Cathedral of St. Andrew on the website, on the Facebook page, or on television on FOX 17. The Mass, plus plenty of other Catholic programming, is also available to watch on EWTN. You can also watch daily Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert Barron.
- Make a spiritual communion, especially while you are watching Mass.
- Use spiritual resources from our diocese.
- Use spiritual resources from the USCCB, including more options for watching Masses and Adoration.
- Pray the Rosary more often than you usually do. Fr. Mike and the OLL staff will lead the Rosary on Facebook Live on Fridays at noon (not Good Friday). You can also use recordings on formed.org or watch the Rosary on EWTN.
- Read and reflect on the daily Scriptures. Free resources you can use include Magnificat and The Word Among Us.
- Pray one or more of the liturgical hours each day. If you don’t want to buy a breviary, download an app like iBreviary or Universalis.
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Parishioners are also encouraged to pray 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.
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!