A Franciscan Parish

Browsing Father Larry Janezic, ofm

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, 
baptizing them in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  Matt 28:19-20

Five years ago to the date (May 24, 2015), Pope Francis issued an historic encyclical on the care for the earth as our common home, Laudato Si.  This encyclical challenges us to be more respectful and to love the good earth and to cherish all of creation as the work and gift of God.  The document calls us to integrate our love for creation in the way that we live our lives.  He calls this act of love integrative ecology.  It calls for a change of lifestyle and conversion.  For example we can be more conscientious of our carbon foot print or have a more simple diet.  

On this solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, we celebrate the great commissioning of the Apostles. Jesus invited them to make disciples of all nations.  Perhaps never was there a time when we were more aware of an extraordinary singular global preoccupation such as pandemic crisis.  I think that the words of the Gospel  “all nations,” have a new meaning.  As Pope Francis puts it, “we are all in the same boat,” Urbi et Orbi, March 27, 2020.  We reflect on how the Covid-19 virus has affected every part of the world.  There is no escaping it. There have been many weeks when the world was on pause. We saw how fragile we are.  Perhaps on this Ascension Sunday we might heed that message of Jesus to make disciples of all nations, we can be conscientious of the world and those around us.  The invitation is very simple but each individual action has great significance.  Because casual contact and a lack of social distancing can transmit the virus and enable the spread of the disease, we can start by wearing a mask in public areas.  

Another way of demonstrating discipleship is by our care for one another.  Fr. More and I have been checking on people by phone.  I know that it is important to hear a friendly voice.  If you think that a friend or acquaintance of yours can use a call, by all means call them.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to make someone’s day.  The message of Jesus that is carried on by the disciples is a simple concern and consideration for all.   

……………a word about re-opening 
There is a lot of buzz about re-opening in the State and in the Church.   We will follow the directions of the Diocese of Joliet in collaboration with the State of Illinois.  The Diocese has developed a detailed plan of policies and procedures. The parish staff and some newly organized committees have attended the training and will collaborate in the parish implementation of the plan.  There will be no public opening of parish buildings until the Diocese approves our proposed implementation of the plan.  The plan highlights procedures of social distancing, limited numbers of people, wearing masks, cleaning and sanitizing.  On approval of the plan we will be able to celebrate Baptisms, Funerals, Weddings, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). There is also a plan for specific hours of adoration.  There are strict crowd size limits for these services.  No more than ten people.  Sunday and Weekday Masses will not be permitted until the State determines the number of participants (more than 10) that can safely be accommodated in public buildings.  At the present time, there is no specific date when permission for Sunday and Week Day Mass will be given.  In the meantime, our parish staff is working on several options to accommodate our parishioners at Sunday Mass within the given limitations.  We will also continue the practice of live streaming video with a recording on Facebook.  There is no Sunday Mass obligation until further notice.  

This is all very difficult.  It is clear that the Church has made a clear determination that public safety is an important way that we promote the common good.  Be assured that through it all, we are caring for one another.  It is a great sign of our discipleship.  
Fr. Larry 


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