“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; / Lord, hear my voice! / Let your ears be attentive / to my voice in supplication.”
This is the beginning of the Psalm we will hear at Mass this Sunday. Most Catholics in the United States will listen to it on TV, or on the radio, or on their computers. We’ve heard the Psalm before. We hear it every year, but this year, I think it will reverberate in our minds stronger than ever before.
Public Masses are suspended in every diocese in the United States. Our churches in Brooklyn and Queens are closed, as they are in several dioceses across the country. With tens of thousands of parishioners already confirmed to be sick with COVID-19, it would be lethally dangerous to do otherwise.
Taking all precautions is not just necessary, it is consistent with the Gospel reading we heard on the First Sunday of this Lenten season:
“Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple and said to him: ‘If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.’
“Jesus said to him: ‘It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’”
We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Doing everything possible to stay safe and healthy is not, in any away, a lack of trust in God. On the contrary, being unnecessarily reckless and asking God to perform miracles to save us is, in a sense, tempting ‘the Lord thy God,’ as Jesus says in the Gospel.
But one fact remains. It is a challenge for us to live this Lent, and Holy Week, without going to church or participating in Mass and receiving the Eucharist.
In his column this week, Bishop DiMarzio talks about how to spiritually cope with the coronavirus pandemic and its many consequences. He has started offering prayer and reflection via Facebook and Twitter for the faithful in Brooklyn and Queens. Last week, the Holy Father invited all Catholics around the world to join him in praying the rosary for the victims of the pandemic. Locally, our own pastors and parochial group leaders are also using social media to virtually come together and pray. Like never before, modern technology is becoming a tool for praying in the Catholic community.
As you can see in this issue of The Tablet, NET-TV, our diocesan TV station, is broadcasting more masses so the faithful can join in the celebration of the Eucharist from home.
Currents News keeps ‘Putting your faith in the news” every night. They continue to bring you the latest updates about the current situation in the diocese and the church at large. At The Tablet, we have created a special section on our website to inform our readers about the pandemic.
Now that our churches are closed, our readers do not have the option of picking up their copy of The Tablet there. Still, many of our readers do receive the paper through the mail each week.
In the last couple of months, that number has grown since we started a campaign to ask our readers to get personal subscriptions. It is a way to support our parishes that have been paying for the copies they receive. But, it is also a way to support The Tablet and the Catholic press in general.
The Tablet brings you the news from a Catholic perspective that you won’t find in the secular media. And we also bring you a weekly portrait of life in the diocese even in these difficult times. Subscribing to The Tablet now will help you stay informed about the challenges the diocese faces, but also, and more importantly, the good work our communities continue to do in these difficult times. Because the words of John Paul II are still true today: “We are an Easter People, and Alleluia is our song!”