Letter from the pastor:
Part One: Scripture
“Prophets often exhibit eccentric personalities,” writes Sister Diane Bergant. “Is it a theatric ploy,” she continues, “meant to capture the attention of an unmindful audience? Or could it be that the prophets are normal ones in society with remarkably profound insight while the rest of us are people with dull or dulled perception?”
We might wonder if Elijah the prophet was normal. Did not ravens feed Elijah, when the rest of the nation was suffering from hunger? Elijah was able to call down fire from heaven to consume a water-drenched sacrifice. He predicted the return of rain after a merciless drought. Eventually Elijah was carried up into heaven in a fiery chariot. And, the fact that there is no report of his death and burial led people to believe Elijah would someday return to earth to herald the end of time. Yet Elijah was and continues to be a prophet of great interest and importance in the Jewish and Christian traditions.
“Elijah was a champion of monotheism (the belief in one God) at a time when Israel was unfaithful to its covenant. His very name, ‘Eli-jah,’ means my God is YHWH, which captures his passion for God and the essence of his prophetic ministry,” wrote Sister Bergant.
The readings from the Book of Kings this week and next describe the Israelite’s infidelity and the misfortune it triggered through the agency of the prophet. Elijah announced a devastating drought, which swept the land. God also worked in positive ways through Elijah. A widow of Zarephath, who with her son faced certain starvation, complied with the directives of Elijah and was blessed with a year’s supply of flour and oil. Elijah appeared to have power over the elements, calling down fire and rain from heaven. Through all of this he was an agent of God’s power, not his own. This is evident in his intimate encounter with God, who spoke to Elijah in a tiny whispering sound.
Who could possibly be a follower of such a remarkable man as Elijah? Yet he had a follower, one who would ultimately become his successor: Elisha.
Why was the memory of Elijah kept alive? Elijah was, and continues to be a hero and a model. When Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, brought worship of her pagan gods into Israel, many Israelites followed her example, but not Elijah. In this way, he stood in opposition to Jezebel, making her his mortal enemy.
Was Elijah radical? “In his surroundings,” writes Sister Bergant, “any form of religious fidelity would have seemed radical. In that way, Elijah is a model for people of God in all times who have to take such stands and risks alienation. There is nothing eccentric or theatrical about creating a new and prophetic normal.”*
*Adapted from the writing of Sister Dianne Bergant, CSA,
Carroll Stuhlmueller, CP, Professor Emerita of Old Testament Studies at CTU, in Chicago.
Part Two: Re-Opening 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 issues or who are 60 or older are strongly encouraged to avoid attending a public celebrations of Mass, because it carries the risk of contagion. We will continue to live-stream the Sunday Mass in Spanish at 9:00 a.m. and in English at 11:00 a.m. The parish has a YouTube channel: Saint Lucy. Please subscribe. It is free to subscribe. Subscribers can view the live-stream on their smart phones.
Phase 1—St. Lucy is in Phase 1. The Church is open for personal/private prayer only from noon to 3:00 p.m. 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.
Those who come, please wear a facial mask; their temperature will be checked as they enter church. However, the use of facial masks, social distancing, hand sanitizing does not eliminate completely the risks of contagion.
Phase 2—On Monday, 15 June 2020, St. Lucy will enter phase 2. This means that public weekday Masses, funerals, and weddings, and baptism will be celebrated. Attendants will be limited to 50 (Fifty) persons, including the minister. Participants with masks and pass temperature checks to enter, provided the number does not exceed 50.
Phrase 3—On Saturday evening, 21 June 2020, St. Lucy will enter phase 3. This means that St. Lucy will celebrate public Sunday Mass 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 attending a public celebrations of Mass, which carries the risk of contagion. 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.
In phase 3, please pre-register online or by phone on Thursday and Friday between the hours of 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. if you intend to attend the Mass in person. Registration enables us to maintain “social distancing.” The capacity of the church is 50. This number may be raised later. 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.