The Flame: May2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Very few people saw this coming. A disease that would shut the world down? It sounded like a Hollywood movie plot. Yet, here we are: sheltering in place, keeping social distance, a workforce divided into essential and nonessential, pre-kindergarten through graduate school taking place online, wearing face masks and frequently washing our hands. This is the reality of our day.

COVID-19 has made everyone feel vulnerable. Since the virus had never been seen before, no one was immune to it. All people are susceptible to COVID-19. Yet, we know that to do when we are powerless. We turn to the Lord Jesus who has all power and authority in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:20)

bookPrayer would be a good use of the extra free time that the COVID-19 outbreak has afforded us. Prayer is what will keep us free and sane. I have encouraged people to pray for the same length of time that they watch/read/listen to the news reports about COVID-19.

We need to petition the Lord on behalf of the individuals we know who have contracted the disease. We need to intercede on behalf of the world that this virus be will eradicated. We need to pray for civil leaders that they would work with health officials in making policies. We ask the Lord to guide researchers as they develop a vaccine for COVID-19. We need to especially pray for health care workers and all who supply supportive services for hospitals and nursing homes. We need to pray.

We also need to live our faith. This is the antidote to the anxiety and fear that paralyze us.
Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Jesus Christ is the Son of God who, by his own death and glorious resurrection, destroyed the power of death. We do not have to live in fear of death. Yes, we still act in a prudent manner in the face of COVID-19. However, we belong to Jesus Christ, who shares with us His victory over death.

In the light of Christ we have a hope that is beyond this world. St. Paul reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20). St. Peter calls us sojourners (I Peter 1:1, 17, 2:11) and reminds us that our time on earth is a pilgrimage to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven (I Peter 1:4).

We also need to be mindful of practicing charity. We may know people who feel especially isolated during this time. We can call them and remind them that they are not forgotten. We are spending more time with those we live with. This too can be a challenge. Again, all of us need to make a special effort to respect and serve each other.

Shortly after sending the students home from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Fr. Dave Pivonka TOR was praying in the friary chapel one evening. He sensed the Lord say, “I have not changed.” God is still God. He is still on the throne. God still rules. We need to remember this. Pope Francis, when leading a Holy Hour at an empty St. Peter’s on Friday, March 27 read Mark 4:35-41, the passage that tells us that Jesus was asleep in the storm tossed boat with the disciples. The Lord Jesus did calm the wind and the waves and called the disciples to faith amid the trials. And the Lord will eradicate this virus.

If I could encourage you in some other ways: stay connected to your parishes. Though you are not attending events there, most parishes have their Masses online (we use Facebook Live) and even have other online offerings. At St. Peter’s we have an online Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Bible Study, Prayer course and other offerings. And support your parish financially. People at my parish have signed up for online giving, mailed in their envelopes, walked them into the office or had their bank send us checks.

At this point, CRM has scheduled a number of Charismatic Masses in June and into the fall. We also have our 2020 Cleveland Charismatic Conference scheduled for July 17-18. These events will take place only if they are permitted and deemed prudent to have the events. Please refer to the CRM website (www.crmweb.org) for up to date information or phone us at 440-944-9445.

In Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries