Letter from the Pastor
Part One: Scripture
There is considerable evidence to indicate that the Second Letter to Timothy was written in Paul’s name by one of his followers. Most scholars set the date for the letter after Paul’s death, toward the end of the first century.
Second Timothy makes two important assertions about the word of God. On June 5th we hear that, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and training in righteousness.” For the author of Second Timothy, the inspired Scriptures were the Jewish Scriptures. The books we now see as the New Testament were only beginning to hold inspired status. We believe that the Scriptures—both Old and New Testament—can guide and form us to be effective disciples of Jesus.
On June 4th again in Second Timothy, Paul states that his proclamation of the Gospel has led to his imprisonment . As an apostle he now suffers in chains, like a criminal. Then Paul pivots and asserts, “But the word of God is not chained.” Whether proclaimed in Paul’s spoken words or committed to a written text, God’s word remains free.
While all Scripture may “remain free,” and may be “useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and training in righteousness,” nevertheless, the expression of these assertions requires continual development. Nowhere is this clearer than the First Letter to Timothy 6:1: “Those who are under the yoke of slavery must regard their masters as worthy of full respect, so that the name of God and our teaching may not suffer abuse.” Clearly Saint Paul tolerated slavery.*
We usually think of slavery in terms of innocent people who were unjustly captured and reduced to "beasts of burden" due solely to their race. This form of slavery, known as racial slavery, began in the 15th century and was formally condemned by Pope Eugene IV in 1435 in his Bull, Sicut Dudum. This was the most common form of slavery in the U.S. before the Thirteenth Amendment ended it. So racial slavery became illegal, but racial profiling and racism continued to fester in our cultural and social system.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin in a statement issued 3 June 2020, wrote: “tolerance of tribalistic factions in the United States, especially in our political forum, promotes a savage law of the jungle and an immoral ethos of might makes right. Violent rhetoric, selfishness and even the crude appropriation of religious symbols conspire to produce a malevolent miasma in which the sin of racism may flourish unchecked. Our society will make no progress in addressing the evil of racism without the will to leave behind the purveyors of polarization.”
*Adapted from the writing of
Father George Smiga, teacher, and author of the website Building on the Word.
Part Two: Re-Opening Churches
The Archdiocese of Newark values the need to be gradual in reopening churches. Cardinal Tobin dispenses the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days. Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issue or who are 60 or older are strongly encouraged to avoid this risk by attending a public celebrations of Mass. We will continue to live-stream the Sunday Mass in Spanish at 9:00 a.m. and in English at 11:00 a.m.
Phase 1—Churches will first be opened for personal/private prayer only. Individuals and families may come to church for quiet prayer—only nine persons because a member of the staff will be present to insure social distancing. Sacrament of Reconciliation may be celebrated, if social distancing can be maintained and masks are worn. Individuals and families who come for personal prayer should limit their time in the church to 15 minutes so other may enter and pray. The requirement of “social distancing” means that the restricted space of the adoration chapel will remain closed!
The door on Amity Place and the side door opening to the garages and Rectory parking lot are designated as the ENTRANCE doors to church. The EXIT door will be the door of the St. Gerard Shrine leading through the Ruggiero garden to the plaza. Leaving the church, participants will have to practice social distancing and to wear facial masks.
As Pastor, I have decided that the church will open on Sunday, 7 June 2020 and there after for personal prayer only, which will take place between the hours of noon until 3:00 p.m.
Phase 2—Churches will celebrate public weekday Masses, funerals, weddings, and baptism, but attendants will be limited to 10 (ten) persons, including the minister. Participants with masks and passing temperature checks may enter provided the number does not exceed 10. (Date to be determined).
Phrase 3—Churches will be permitted to celebrate Sunday Mass publically with the obligatory practices of social distancing, use of masks and limited number of people present. Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issue or who are 60 or older are strongly encouraged to avoid the risks posed by attendance at public celebrations of Mass. Moreover, we will continue to live-stream the Sunday Mass at 9:00 a.m. and in English at 11:00 a.m. All other sacraments will resume according to directives (Date to be determined).
In phase 3, to participate in the Mass, people are requested to pre-register online or by phone on Thursday and Friday between the hours of 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. When we take into account “social distancing,” the capacity of the church is 92. Also, on entering the church, participants will have their temperature checked. Those found to have a temperature will be asked to remain outside in the parking lot.