A Letter from Bishop Malesic
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are entering a truly unprecedented and almost surreal time as our state, national and worldwide efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have led to many serious actions. Foremost among them for us as Catholics is the suspension of Mass and other liturgies that are such an integral part of our spiritual lives.
I want to first let you know that I am praying for all of you and your families, asking God to give you the grace and peace necessary to weather this storm. Please keep me and my family, especially my 102-year-old father, in your prayers as well. Raising our many voices in quiet prayer for each other will have a mighty impact.
Suspending the celebration of public Masses until the danger has passed was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. But I was reminded in prayer of Proverbs 22:3: “The astute see an evil and hide, while the naïve continue on and pay the penalty.”
Still, we must all continue to keep the Third Commandment quoted at the top of this letter.
Sunday is a day to rejoice as we contemplate our Lord, risen from the dead. It is the day we recommit ourselves to serve him and profess our expectation that he will return again. Ordinarily keeping the Sabbath holy includes gathering for the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist, like the early Church did. However, throughout history circumstances and events have often hindered the faithful from participation in Sunday Eucharist. In such times and places people have always found ways to continue to rejoice in the Resurrected Lord outside of the celebration of the Eucharist. This letter is written in the hope of providing encouragement and resources to support the faithful in taking up this challenge.
Although we are now temporarily unable to gather for the Sunday Eucharist, we can experience God’s presence in many other ways. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides access to the daily readings at: cms.usccb.org/bible/readings. Individuals and families are strongly encouraged to devote a portion of the day to listening and prayerfully reflecting upon God’s word in Scripture. In addition to this resource, Magnificat has graciously provided free access to their daily liturgical resource and reflection at www.magnificat.com/free. I also have a weekly reflection on the Sunday readings (daily during Lent) that is posted online to the diocesan and my personal Facebook pages. My page is www.facebook.com/bishopmalesic/ .
The Diocese of Greensburg, through its Office of Communications and Evangelization, has prepared several other resources to help you pray alone or worship together with your families from your homes. These include prayer cards, how to pray the rosary and recommendations for combatting the social isolation that can accompany social distancing. You can find these resources in the March issue of The Catholic Accent and at www.dioceseofgreensburg.org.
Over the centuries, countless members of the Church have found solace and strength through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary, our spiritual mother, offers her help at this moment. The Rosary provides a wonderful means by which young and old alike may meditate more deeply upon the saving mysteries of Christ’s life using Mary as our guide. She is a tender companion who leads us to know her Son in a personal way. In addition to the information prepared by the diocese, you can find additional information about the Rosary, including how to pray it, at: www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/rosaries/how-to-pray-the-rosary.cfm.
The Liturgy of the Hours provides yet another means by which the faithful may join in prayer with the Church throughout the world. Through this liturgy the Church sanctifies the day, at once offering intercession on behalf of those in need and giving thanks and praise to our heavenly Father. Again, online resources provide access for the faithful to join in this prayer. Those who wish to explore this option are encouraged to visit: www.ebreviary.com.
Additionally, we are preparing a video of the Sunday Mass that will be posted online every Sunday at 9 a.m. You can watch this or other Masses that are posted online or on EWTN in a reverential and prayerful way to help celebrate the Lord’s presence in your life through faith.
To stay continuously updated with communications, recommendations and actions taken by the Diocese of Greensburg in response to the spread of the coronavirus, text “Faith” to the number 724-305-3057 to sign up for important text message alerts. Up-to-the-minute communication is available on all diocesan social media outlets — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and at www.dioceseofgreensburg.org/healthalerts.
Yes, we must continue to pray and keep the Lord’s Day holy, but we must also fast from sin and give alms to the poor. We must also maintain the mission of the Church to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, I urge you to continue to support your favorite charities and support your parish and diocese. Mail in your contributions or donate online on your parish webpage. You can make your Diocesan Lenten Appeal contribution at www.dioceseofgreensburg.org/GROW.
We need to continue to be good stewards of God’s many blessings. Our ongoing generous support for the work of the Church and other good works in the community will help us to survive this time of tribulation and return to normal as quickly as possible once this present danger has passed.
Remember that the Lord has promised that nothing can ever separate us from him, even as we might be separated from each other for a time. As Saint Paul attests in his Letter to the Romans: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
In these days we are assured that Christ does not abandon the people he loves. Be assured of my prayers for you and for all those you love. Join with me in asking that the Divine Physician bring healing and comfort to all who suffer during this time and always.
Your brother in Christ,
The Most Reverend Edward C. Malesic, JCL
Bishop of Greensburg