God is Here

Dear Friends,

It may be difficult to believe but we have come upon a year of pandemic restrictions. Some of the dates to recall from 2020 ~ March 12, Archbishop Perez and the Pennsylvania Bishops dispensed the obligation to attend Sunday and Holyday Masses; March 18, all public Masses were suspended; March 23, the Governor issued a stay-at-home order for the five counties of the Archdiocese; June 5, that order expired.

This past year has had unbelievable impact on each and every one of us, our country, and our world. The situation while it appears to be improving, will continue to impact us for the foreseeable future. The collective social trauma of this past year brings to the forefront of our memories all those who have become ill, those who have died, the sadness of isolation, quarantining, and unemployment (including the new working from home models). We can agree that we are wearied and worn, even as we welcome the new vaccines.

This past week as part of the Liturgy of the Hours which clergy, religious, and many laity pray daily, one of the readings was from Nehemiah 8:9-10. “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” That final sentence, has resonated with me now for many years ~ “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” For me it aligns with this verse from Psalm 22:3, “Yet Thou are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”

You see God’s holy people have suffered much, suffered many times, often because of their own sinfulness but even at the unjust hands of conquerors and others in power. Think of all the martyrs of our Church through more than 2000 years, giving their life for Christ.

There is much in this world we cannot control, much that happens that we do not endorse or enjoy. Yet in our sufferings, in our sadness, even in our weaknesses, our being drawn back to the Lord occurs in rejoicing and praising. God does not social distance. He is with us daily. He is with us at every moment. He is our hope because He shows abundant generosity, graciousness, mercy, and healing. God gifts us in overflowing measure: our response is rejoicing in Him and praising Him for all He is and does for us.

Perhaps as we continue our Lenten journey to Easter this year, we might take the time to reflect on these questions:

What am I able to do safely to bring God’s love and peace to others as this pandemic continues?

What blessings have I experienced during the pandemic? How do these bring me closer to God?

What gift(s) have I discovered during the pandemic?

How will I use these gifts and graces to serve God’s people?

Psalm 22 begins with these words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It goes on to affirm, “In thee our fathers trusted; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.” Our God is here! He is with us now! Our God is enthroned on our praises and rejoicing in Him is our strength!

God bless you, God love you, and I love you,

Monsignor McCulken

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