Palm Sunday Mass Invitation

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ / Friends of St. Monica’s,

As we continue this time of isolation, I know that some of us are beginning to feel it quite intensely.  There is something in the human spirit that longs to be connected to others, to be in physical contact, to see and hear and touch those whom we love. 

For those over 70, and especially for seniors living in retirement facilities or nursing homes where even more severe measures of containment have become necessary, loneliness and a sense of abandonment can set in.  I’d like to specially thank our pastoral home care volunteers, as well as those among you who continue to reach out to the sick and housebound, to offer them encouragement and a listening ear.  The diocese is also sponsoring an assistance line for any who find themselves anxious, fearful, or in need of spiritual support at this time: 1-888-305-0994

Whatever we can do to reach out to others is important.  Although we are asked to keep our physical distance from each other, although our public gathering places (including our churches) are mostly closed, our hearts and our Church as community remain radically open: to faith, compassion, and solidarity in love.  A genuine spiritual communion unites us all. 

I know that many of you tried to watch last week’s live-stream of Sunday Mass; some were able to get a decent connection, but it was difficult for many others.  We apologize to anyone who tried repeatedly and had to give up in frustration!  Once the recorded version was posted around 3 PM, it was much better and over 200 people have already viewed that version, which is pretty good for a first attempt! (It’s still up there, by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet!  See the link below.)

So we are going to try something different this week.  We are pre-recording the Mass so that we can be assured that everything is smooth.  In order to respect the conditions of social distancing and unnecessary travel – which I hope you are all observing! – the readers and musicians are recording their parts from home and our “producer” will put it all together on Saturday evening!

As well, liturgical norms require Holy Week services to take place in the parish church, so for Palm Sunday we will be “live” from St. Monica’s!! You can use the same link as last week (see below) to connect.  We will be uploading the edited liturgy so that we are ready to participate together Sunday at 10 AM, and it will remain available for those who choose to participate later in the day.

Thanks again to our liturgy team, our production team, and the good people at Kane & Fetterly for their ongoing support.

This is also a time for building bridges with our neighbours.  I was discussing the Easter Triduum with the pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Michael Leclerc, and we agreed that it was good for us to cooperate and support each other, as we find creative ways of reaching out.  So on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we will be encouraging you to follow those services by visiting the St. Ignatius website and clicking on the “Live-Stream” icon.  Fr. Mike has invited me to preach (by remote connection!) at their Holy Thursday Mass so I look forward to seeing you there!   On Saturday evening, we can join Archbishop Christian Lépine for the Easter Vigil at our Cathedral, or with Pope Francis’ at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  Both of these liturgies are broadcast on Salt and Light TV, now available for free at Videotron (242) and Bell (654), or online at Salt and Light TV.  And God willing, we will celebrate the Resurrection online with you from St. Monica’s at our Easter Sunday Mass, April 12 at 10 AM.   Have your bells ready to ring to mark Easter joy!

The Archdiocese is providing resources to help us pray at home, alone or with your families, including a prayer booklet compiled by our Archbishop.

I was powerfully moved when, last Friday, our Holy Father Pope Francis gave an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing (“to the City and the World”) from an empty St. Peter’s Square, praying for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.  His words about the Cross of Christ are a great consolation as we enter into Holy Week:

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved, in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues, to help us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.*

On behalf of Fr. Lloyd, Fr. Bertoli, Anna, Jennie, Francisco, Gina, Mark, the wardens and pastoral council, and the many people engaged in ministry here at St. Monica’s, we thank you for reaching out to your neighbours and supporting one another in this time of pandemic.  Know that you are always in our prayers, and please keep us in yours.

Let us remain united in mind and heart as we walk with the Lord this week to the Cross and to the promised Resurrection.  In this time of social distancing, may we never forget that as the Church, we are one Body in Christ, and we do not stand alone. 

Wishing you all a blessed Holy Week, and a happy and joyful Easter!

Fr. Raymond

P.S. For regular updates on St. Monica’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, and our ongoing efforts to reach out and serve in these challenging times, visit us at our donation pageIf (and only if) your financial situation permits it – we understand these are tough times for many – please consider supporting us by a one-time or regular online donation. Many thanks!

* Read the full text of the Pope’s Urbi et Orbi message.