The Light of Christ is still shining in our diocese

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ —

We are living through a crisis that is unprecedented in our lifetimes, in which our businesses, schools and even our churches have had to cease or drastically curtail their normal operations. Out of deep concern for all the people of the Diocese of Lansing, especially our elder sisters and brothers, I suspended the public celebration of the Mass until it is safe for us to come together again. I am praying that these steps will slow the spread of the CoronaVirus pandemic that has us in its grip, and that you will be blessed with health and peace of spirit. 

Even though we may not be able to gather for Mass, I assure you that the light of Christ is still shining in the world and in our diocese. Our health-care workers are still ministering to the sick, and many of you are still engaged in the vital work of feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and protecting our communities. You are examples of Christ’s love as you care for the vulnerable among us. Thank you for your generous witness to your faith in Jesus Christ.

As we move through this penitential season of Lent, and contemplate the paschal mystery, I ask that you enter more deeply into prayer and sacrifice for the physical and spiritual health of every one of God’s children. This time of deprivation and fasting can become an opportunity for increased prayer and for fostering a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, who understands our fears and who is with us in times of illness and sorrow.
Your priests continue to offer Mass daily, and are lifting your intentions up to the Father in heaven as they do so. You may join with them through an Act of Spiritual Communion, which you will find on page 6, and by watching Mass on television or through a digitally streaming service. Check with your parish or watch the Diocese of Lansing’s Outreach Mass (see page 7). And Jesus continues to be present in tabernacles across our diocese with churches open for private prayer.

Even as we deal with this crisis, we are looking forward to the time when we are all together again with our parish families, able to participate fully in the Mass and receive Christ in his precious body and blood. Here in the Diocese of Lansing, we had already begun a process of looking forward — it is called Realign Resources for Mission, and there is a lengthy report about it in this issue of FAITH. You’ll find a lot of statistics, and information about the committee I have appointed to study our parishes and make recommendations to me. 

My most important charge to this group was to pray often, so as to seek the common good.  It is important that all of us pray for this same common good, in our current national emergency and in the days after it, as we plan renewal and growth for our Church.  Our intent is to grow a diocese filled with parishes that are fully alive communities of missionary disciples. In our churches, we will nurture a vibrant sacramental life, where everyone can encounter Jesus Christ, most especially in the Eucharist.

My dear sisters and brothers, I pray for you always. Please pray, too, for me and for your priests.