Prayer of an Italian Priest

I’m staying at home, Lord!

Prayer of an Italian priest in quarantine whose brother priest died from covid-19

I’m staying at home, Lord! And today, I realize,
you taught me that, remaining obedient to the Father, for thirty years in the house of Nazareth,
awaiting the great mission.

I’m staying at home, Lord, and in Joseph’s workshop, your guardian and mine,
I learn to work, to obey, to round the corners of my life
and prepare a work of art for you.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And I know that I’m not alone because Mary, like any mother,
is in the next room, doing chores and preparing lunch
for all of us, God’s family.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And I do it responsibly for my own good,
for the health of my city, of my loved ones, and for the good of my brother, whom you put beside me,
asking me to take care of in the garden of life.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the silence of Nazareth, I commit myself to pray, read, study, meditate,
be useful for small jobs, in order to make our house more beautiful and more welcoming.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the morning, I thank you for the new day that you give me,
trying not to spoil it and to welcome it with wonder, as a gift and a surprise from Easter.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And at noon, I will receive the greeting from the angel, I will make myself useful for love,
in communion with you who made yourself flesh to live among us;
and, tired by the journey, thirsty, I will meet you at Jacob’s well, and thirsty for love on the Cross.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And if the evening takes me melancholy, I will invoke you like the disciples of Emmaus:
stay with us, the evening has arrived and the sun is setting.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the night, in prayer communion with the many sick people, the people alone and all the caregivers, I will wait for dawn to sing your mercy again and tell everyone that in the storms you were my refuge.

I’m staying at home, Lord! And I don’t feel lonely and abandoned, because you told me:
I am with you every day. yes, and especially in these days of confusion, O Lord, in which,
if my presence is not necessary, I will reach everyone, only with the wings of prayer.

Amen

 

(Disclaimer from Fr Ed: it is not only mothers who do chores and prepare meals!)

Easter Communion

Next Saturday, 04 March, we will celebrate together a service of Reconciliation — we can’t meet together, but we are united spiritually, and we ask God’s pardon and peace. I have an idea for Easter Sunday12 March. I will celebrate the Easter Mass online at 11:15. From 12:00 until 13:00 I will be in the Place du Théâtre to give Holy Communion to those of us who arrive in their cars. The circulation of traffic is well organised there.

You make your spiritual preparation at home (I will publish guidelines to help you with this). You arrive, remain in your car, open the windows, and with minimum of contact, you can receive your Easter Holy Communion. It’s a desperate measure, but we are not in normal times. Please let me know what you think — if you have other ideas, let me know also.

In solidarity and in union of prayer,

Fr Ed

Missing you already

Missing you already

We are two weeks in to the shutdown of our church community. At first, I didn’t take it seriously enough — I thought that a couple of weeks off would be a welcome opportunity to catch up with lots of paperwork and other things I’ve been postponing for a long time. But now I have to say I am missing everyone so much. Normally on a Saturday evening I am thinking about the Mass the next day.

Sunday morning, the sacristy is organised chaos — all the altar servers arrive, talk, shout at each other, and somehow have to be organised into a functioning team. It happens. It’s a miracle, but it happens each week. I miss that so much.

When we process into the church and sing the opening hymn, I really miss the smiles, the high-fives, the sense of a vibrant, living, worshipping community.

I miss incensing the altar, that symbolic entrance into sacred space, signifying that we are not just a social club, but a people gathered to worship. I miss that so much.

And inviting the children to come forward for their own liturgy, their own part of the Mass — hearing the word of God and taking it to heart, thanks to their teachers and accompaniers. It always gives me great joy to welcome them back and to pray the Our Father with them — the children, their parents, grandparents, and sometimes great-grandparents. We could take this for granted, but we are privileged when it happens in our midst.

I miss the music, our music group, our singing together… I miss it so much — it is so uplifting, so expressive, so nourishing. The sooner we can sing together again, the better for all of us.

I miss sharing the word of God, attempting to open up the scriptures, trying to impart something of value, trying to engage in spiritual conversation with our huge, multicultural and richly mixed congregation. I can preach online, of course, but it’s not the same.

And the little conversations we have after Mass — necessarily short — they keep us in touch with each other, and when we can’t have them, we suffer a little.

I miss receiving Communion with you — the bread, consecrated and broken and shared, the wine consecrated and given to each of us. In my 30+ years of being a priest, I have never celebrated Mass by myself — I don’t believe in doing so. So when I am not with you, I too am deprived of the Eucharist. I don’t see you coming forward to receive sacramentally the Body and Blood of the Lord. I know so many of you, and rejoice when you come forward. 

After Mass has ended, we share tea and coffee together. The music group continue with the rehearsals for the children’s choir. There may be meetings going on, Arepadas in the garden room. Now, the church, the garden room and all the rooms are empty. 

This may sound like a litany of despair, but it is far from that. Our First Communion classes (more than 60 children this year), our Confirmation classes (more than 40 young adults), our Marriage Preparation classes (generally 48 couples each year)  are a sign to us that our pastoral life is going forward. We will learn how to meet online when we can’t meet in person; our Christian Meditation group is already continuing on Zoom (video-conferencing software).

We are a community of hope — if not, we are nothing, we are failing in our mission, but I am confident we have faith and hope. My prayer/wish is that we stay strong, join in online when we can, that we pray for each other. I miss you so much at the moment, we miss each other — so we accept the challenge to stay close to the Lord, to pray for each other, to ask Our Lady’s help, and to help our neighbour in their need.

Missing you, and wishing you every blessing,

Fr Ed

Online Adoration — a reflection

Each day, twice a day, we have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament online. Not many people join in — I know that for many, it’s not practical or it does not answer their spiritual needs; I thought about suspending the Adoration and trying to think of something else that might better serve our community.

But I had second thoughts — these two hours a day are symbolic: something is being done by us, for us all. Those who join in are helping to keep the spirit of our community alive, praying not just for themselves but for all of us. It reminds me of a convent of enclosed nuns, few in number, hidden away, praying for the needs of the world. In my previous parish, I also had the responsibility of making official visitations to convents and monasteries, commissioned by the archbishop to assist in any way their community life and mission. I was always impressed, often moved, by the hidden ministry of prayer. In a way, that is what we are doing by our simple online Adoration.

Fr Dominic, my Redemptorist confrere in Vienna, sent me a link to a beautiful reflection on online Adoration, and I am happy to share it with you.

If you can, drop in from time to time — not necessarily for the whole hour. Leave a comment/like. We’re all in this together!

Every good wish, Fr Ed