I return in this unprecedented time of global crisis: the world as we have known it is turned upside down. All of us are living in the midst of uncertainty and fear, to a greater or lesser degree. Our geographical parish, the DTES, is particularly vulnerable. Quite sensibly, St. James’, as most churches, is closed for public worship, for the safety and well-being of the whole community. Despite this, it is all the more important that the life of the Church, the Opus Dei, Work of God, goes on. As Christians it is still our duty and our joy to praise our Creator God, and to offer our prayers – of intercession, anguish and lament – on behalf of the world God loves so much that he came to share its – our – life in Jesus, God’s own Son. This Passiontide and Holy Week invite us to share in a more profound way in Christ’s self-giving for the world.
The Daily Office continues to be said, and the Mass is being offered. In the midst of the round of news and comment, find space to be still, and to voice your prayers: the Psalms, the Angelus, the Lord’s Prayer. There are many online resources available: in the weeks ahead, I will offer some suggestions, especially about how we may enter together into Holy Week. The Archbishop has commended a prayer to be said at noon in solidarity with our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines:
O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted,
grant courage and hope.
Where anxiety is infectious and widening,
grant peace and reassurance.
Where impossibilities close every door and window,
grant imagination and resistance.
Where distrust twists our thinking,
grant healing and illumination.
Where spirits are daunted and weakened,
grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams.
All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ,
our Saviour and Lord. Amen.
This week we have prepared a “Liturgy for use at Home”, [click here] with the Sunday Readings and a form of Spiritual Communion. You may wish to use this as a personal devotion, linking in prayer with other members of our community doing the same, or to experiment (as I will be doing!) by joining me in a “Zoom celebration” if you have access to the App. We will send out advice about Zoom and a meeting number in a separate mailing.
Keeping in touch with one another is essential too, and we are exploring ways of doing this. Email is one medium. Deacon Joyce is working on a telephone tree. There is the St. James’ Facebook page, and the opportunity to use Zoom (zoom.us). Some of these will be a challenge to me, as they may be to some of you, but let’s see what we can learn together!
Fr. Matthew, quite rightly, has suspended routine work on the Street, but continues to be engaged actively with the DTES Response: https://dtesresponse.ca. Please support this work in your prayers, and by donation if you are able. The impact of Covid-19 in the neighbourhood is likely to be volatile.
On a personal note, my thanks to everyone for their good wishes, concern and prayers since my accident in January. I’m glad and thankful to report that my leg is mending well, that I am increasingly mobile, and that I am now able to resume responsibilities at St. James’. I should like to express sincere thanks to Fr. Neil Gray, on my own behalf and that, I am sure, of the Parish, for his commitment as acting Priest-in-Charge in my absence, and my thanks too to all who have worked hard to keep everything going. It is not often in one’s ministry one is able to miss an Annual Vestry, and good, if salutary, to recognise one is not indispensable!
The Lord bless you and keep you.