My dear brothers and
sisters in Christ Jesus:
During these almost two years we have learned the pain of isolation that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. In this month of November, traditionally called the “Month of All Souls,” we pray for our deceased loved ones that God will welcome them into His presence for eternity. Because of the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic, many had to visit a sick family member through a window and wave to a loved one while standing outside. Before priests were permitted to enter hospitals and health-care facilities, they blessed their parishioners, in some instances, standing in a parking lot and directing God’s blessing in the direction of the sick person’s room, an extraordinary circumstance that called upon the Lord, the Divine Physician, to make up for the inability of the priest to comfort the sick and dying with the Church’s sacraments. And when the Lord called a loved one home to Himself, family members at times could not be by the bedside; funeral Masses were postponed.
Thanks be to God that He transcends all human limitations and embraces our beloved dead as we continue to pray for them during this month of November and always. When we could not embrace our loved ones in these moments of trial and sadness, Jesus did embrace them and knew what was in our aching hearts. Indeed, Jesus is Lord, the cry of the early Church, as we also celebrate His universal domain over the hearts of all people this month on November 21, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
I continue to unite with you in prayer, asking Our Lord to bring about resolutions to the remaining concerns about the pandemic, so that families and friends may enjoy each other’s company and support, especially as we draw near to the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our churches have worked diligently to invite people to in-person worship, realizing God’s command to keep holy the Lord’s Day and the extraordinary privilege to receive His Son in Holy Communion. The Church always has instructed the faithful that for very serious reasons, among them serious sickness or other serious health issues that also do not permit participation in social events or gatherings, they are exempt from the obligation to attend Holy Mass each week.
May the Lord bless and protect your families, especially your dear children, who at such young ages have had to deal with so many challenges over these last two years. As I have celebrated Masses this fall for the opening of the new school year in our Catholic schools, I have been so deeply impressed by the care and support, dedication and faith of our teachers, staff and administration in providing in-person classes to our young people, who respond so well to the mission of our schools: to reveal the person of Jesus! This same dedication and spirit characterize our parish religious-education programs with so many volunteers who support the clergy, directors and staff in sharing their deep faith with our children. Thank you for doing your best in tough times!
Invoking God’s blessings upon you through the intercession of Our Mother Mary and our Diocesan Patron, St. John Fisher, I remain
Devotedly yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend
Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester