Thursday, May 14th
It is certainly great news to hear from our Bishop that we will be able to attend Mass (in person!) again. To be able to regularly receive our Lord in the Eucharist and worship as a community will provide much needed spiritual support, especially with all the challenges COVID-19 has brought our way. I am sure, however, that you have some questions on how that is going to work with social distancing expectations. The Diocese has issued detailed guidelines on the celebration of Mass during this time. Our staff has met several times now to discuss how best to implement them for everyone's protection. First, though, I’d like to share with you our Mass schedule for the next few weeks.
Public Masses will begin at Incarnation on Wednesday, May 20th.
Daily Masses: Monday – Friday; 11am public Mass and 11am live-stream Mass
Saturday: 8:30am public Mass and 4:30pm public Vigil Mass
Sunday: 8am live-stream Mass, 9am and 11am public Mass
A slight wrinkle to these plans is that we are currently refinishing all of our main church doors, which means that for fire safety reasons we cannot gather in the church until at least May 28th. From Wednesday, May 20th - Wednesday, May 27th all Masses will be held in the Finegan Center.
Regarding attendance guidelines, the following is expected of anyone attending Mass:
- Anyone who is sick, experiencing poor health symptoms, or at greater risk of contagion is asked to stay home.
- Please maintain safe social distancing (6 feet) at all times. This includes walking in and out of the church and talking to each other outside (households excepted).
- Everyone is required to wear a mask (masks not provided).
- Wash and/or sanitize your hands before entering the church. Please do not touch your face and use sanitizer as needed.
- Minimize hand contact with all surfaces (especially doors, the backs of chairs, and pews). Please be aware that this is both to protect you from contamination and also to protect our pews. Pew varnish is destroyed by alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- The Diocese has asked Communion to only be given in the hand. Please understand this is for the safety of our ministers and all parishioners.
For our part, we are implementing the following:
- Disinfecting of pews after every Mass. This is done with a non-alcohol base disinfectant to protect our pews.
- Seating only every other pew.
- Eucharistic Ministers will bring Communion directly to the pews (no Communion line).
It is important to note that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is dispensed through Sunday, June 28th.
I know it is a lot but we will do the best we can to adjust to this new reality. I ask in a particular way your patience, understanding, and help in seriously practicing these guidelines. For the safety of all, this needs to be a communal effort to protect ourselves and our neighbors. I am sure there may be more questions on this topic and we will try to address them as they come with further updates on our website.
Thank you and God bless you!
PS: I thought you might enjoy this. So funny and so true!
Tuesday, May 5th
I am sure it has not been an easy few weeks away from our regular celebration of Mass and from being able to receive our Lord in the Eucharist along with all other challenges of the pandemic. As we look to gradually returning back to normal, we are happy to offer the opportunity to receive Communion at Incarnation. The Communion distribution will be done outdoors by car-line in our school parking lot with certain safety precautions. This will be from 5:30-6pm on Saturday evening and 10-10:30am on the Sunday morning following our live-stream Masses. Ideally, the expectation would be that parishioners would participate in the live-stream Mass from home and then drive to the parish for Communion.
Communion Distribution Guidelines:
- Please enter the school parking lot by the white gate closest to the parish office, exiting from the white gate closest to the school. The back school gate will not be open.
- Four cars will be brought forward to the four stations marked by cones.
- The car should be parked and the engine turned off. Everyone in the car receiving should exit and line up to receive.
- Our Eucharistic Ministers will be wearing masks. Although not required, it is still strongly recommended to receive Communion in the hand. Please understand this is for the safety of our ministers and all parishioners.
- After all four cars have left, the next four will be sent forward. We will have volunteers helping to guide the traffic.
Thank you for your understanding and patience as we navigate this new reality! This is a real blessing that we are able to do this and I am sure it will provide some much needed consolation and strength for us all from the Lord during this time.
Peace and Good,
Friday, May 1st
We have some good news to share! The Diocese of Venice has allowed for the opportunity to open churches for private prayer with certain guidelines. Beginning on Monday, May 4th, Incarnation Catholic Church will be open for prayer on a trial basis Monday and Wednesday-Friday from 9am-2pm, Tuesday from 2-7pm, and Saturday from 10am-3pm.
To protect the health and well-being of our parishioners and visitors, the following guidelines must be respected when visiting the church:
- Please maintain safe social distancing (6 feet) from others.
- Everyone is required to wear a face mask (per the Diocese).
- Please minimize contact with any surfaces in the church.
- This first week we ask everyone to limit their visit to 30 minutes.
- Anyone who is sick, experiencing poor health symptoms, or at greater risk of contagion is asked to stay home.
- There will be no scheduled gatherings for prayer (e.g., Rosary, Chaplet, Adoration, etc.)
- We kindly ask that parishioners not gather together or converse inside the church.
This is a real gift that we are able to once again spend time in prayer with the Lord, but one that we need to treat with care and prudence. We do ask that these guidelines be followed seriously for the safety of all. Thank you all for your understanding and let us continue to pray for an end to this pandemic.
Weekend of April 18/19 - Divine Mercy Sunday
Today we celebrate the newest and one of the most beautiful major feasts of the Church, the Feast of Divine Mercy. Now I’m not going to focus on the incredible origins of this feast day, the revelations of Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930’s, the fascinating story of how her diary came to the United States, how quickly the devotion spread and the miracles that followed, the obstacles it went through along the way, how JPII made the message of Divine Mercy a central part of his pontificate, the stories of lives changed through the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or about the powerful encounters of God’s love that have happened to so many through the beautiful image that now hangs in our annex. No, I’m not going to talk about that. But I do strongly recommend you look into it, read about it, and open your heart to this beautiful devotion.
Today, let us simply receive. Look upon this beautiful image of Jesus, who calls you to trust in Him, and let Him love you today. Receive His gaze of love and mercy that is always upon each one of us. Receive His love in Spiritual Communion. Receive His love in the Sacrament of Confession when you are able. Because this feast, is a feast about God’s overwhelming goodness and overwhelming generosity. It is God saying to us, I love my people too much, I love you too much, to allow you to be overcome by the world and by sin. May we take the time today to turn to Jesus, the fount of all Mercy, and receive His love in a new way.
Jesus I trust in you!
Fr. Eric Scanlan
“On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My mercy...Let no soul fear to draw near to Me.” - Jesus to St. Faustina
Weekend of April 11/12 - Easter
In the midst of this worldwide pandemic, in a time of great anxiety and uncertainty, Christians everywhere are stopping to reflect on the most sacred mysteries of our faith, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have journeyed with Jesus to Jerusalem and experienced the very worst of human cruelty, selfishness, and sinfulness. Surrendered entirely to in an act of complete and selfless love. And now Easter is here. The definitive theme of Easter, the one that all the readings, music, and symbols speak to today is one of joy, overwhelming joy. Joy at the life changing truth that our Lord Jesus is risen from the dead. What does that mean to you and I? It means that love has triumphed, that God has kept his promises – from the fall of Adam and Eve, from the day death entered the world, God had promised a redeemer, one who would conquer death. This is the Good News, this is the source of our Easter Joy – that death is not the end, but a new beginning for all who believe in Jesus Christ and as a result, everything has changed.
Do we believe that? Or is it too good to be true? Is this all an elaborate story, a myth to give us false hope, to placate us? Or maybe we do believe, but in a vague superficial way? In a way that really makes no difference in the way I live my life?
Those Christians who were persecuted and died for their belief in the resurrection of Jesus would tell us otherwise. They did so because they knew Him. Because they not only believed in the witness of others, but had encountered Him personally, had come to the realization that through the gift of Baptism, God now lives within me. I can speak to Him, have a relationship with Him, give my problems and struggles to Him, be at peace in Him. To believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is to believe that every action of mine means something. Every sin or act of love, weakens me or makes me more like Him. Every suffering and struggle I go through has value, can become holy and meaningful (and what an opportunity we’ve had these past few weeks!). Life has meaning in Him, because He has conquered death, opened the gates of heaven, and calls us to Himself.
My prayer is that each of us in some small way may encounter our risen Lord Jesus – who is the source of true Joy, may we come to know Him anew as a friend, as a savior, as our Lord. Although we may not be able to receive Him in the Eucharist this day, that does not stop us from receiving His life, His Spirit, His love in our hearts. May the Risen Jesus fill us with that Resurrection Joy this Easter, and all 50 days of this Easter Season. May that Joy renew our families, may it renew our parish, may it renew the whole world, because brothers and sisters, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. The tomb is Empty, and Our Lord is truly Risen!
Weekend of April 04/05
The image of Jesus gazing over the city of Jerusalem is striking. We can only imagine what he is thinking. Does he ponder the events of the coming week that will begin with his triumphal entry into the city of David, hailed by all as the Messiah? His final moments with his beloved disciples? Yet knowing it would all end in abandonment and incredible suffering. I am always profoundly moved by the words of Jesus, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!” (Luke 13:34). How difficult it must have been to face the rejection of his own people, whom He loved so deeply. How difficult it must have been to know that so many people through the centuries would continue to reject His invitation of love.
Brothers and sisters, maybe we’ve had a beautiful experience of Lent, experienced much consolation and grace, and were encouraged in our faith. Or maybe like many of us we had a pretty rough experience of Lent this year, especially considering the anxiety and uncertainty we have all been living through these past few weeks. Maybe we were lazy and tired like the Apostles, maybe we were at times fearful, maybe we even went so far as to betray Him or turn away from Him. That is ok, because in the end it is not so much about our weakness and brokenness as it is about the power of the Cross. He who knows our weakness so well, and yet who offers us through His sacrifice the opportunity to begin again.
Wherever we are at though, today we have all arrived at Jerusalem and Holy Week is here. It is holy because of what Jesus did this week and because it is meant to make us holy, to strengthen and renew us in our Christian life. For that to occur though, we have to respond to the graces offered. So let us begin today and every day this week to walk with Jesus in the days of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Although we will sadly not be physically present at the liturgies this year, we can be truly present in our hearts and minds through prayer and meditation on the Word of God. Brothers and sisters, whatever we do, let us choose us to live the events of this week not as spectators, but as participants. Because if we do, if we live this week the right way, if we enter into the mysteries we celebrate, if we internalize all Jesus did for us during the most holy of events in human history, we will find ourselves truly changed.
Peace and Good,
Weekend of March 28/29
What a week! How much has changed so quickly. The impact of COVID-19 continues to be on everyone’s mind as our country and the world struggles with its impact on every aspect of our lives. Here at the parish we have been adjusting as well. Our staff met this past Friday and it was an encouraging meeting as we discussed how best to meet the challenges of this new reality. Our goal is to be as present as we can to you, the parish community. We have begun with the addition of livestream Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, talks, and phone calls to our parishioners, especially to those living alone. It is times like these when we need to support another and in which we especially need the support of our faith!
There were some new and unique experiences as well for myself and Fr. Jim, like the car-line confessions we began last weekend. It was a great turnout and certainly encouraging to see how appreciative you were of the gift of that beautiful sacrament of God’s mercy. Live-streaming the Masses was also a new experience and we are starting to get the hang of it. It has been a real blessing to see how parishioners have interacted, in the sharing of thoughts and prayer intentions through the internet. Yes, it is certainly strange and new but God’s grace and presence remains as real as ever. He continues to reach out to us and be with us in the midst of the anxiety and uncertainty we may be experiencing. I continue to believe strongly that He will bring much good out of the challenges of these times in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts. May we continue to persevere with confidence in His love and care for us.
May God continue to bless us and protect us and may Mary, our beautiful Mother intercede for us!
Peace and Good,
Weekend of March 21/22
As I am writing this, Sunday Masses in many of the Dioceses in our country have been cancelled. I expect the same announcement from our own Diocese to follow soon. I don’t imagine any of us thought we would be in this position a few weeks ago. These are interesting times to say the least! The world and our country are certainly going through uncharted territory in facing the Coronavirus pandemic. As challenging though as this time may be for all of us, it also offers its opportunities. Opportunities to grow in our faith in God, to deepen our reliance on Him alone. I recently came across a quote from St. Augustine: “Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times.” Regardless of what is going on around us, we have the opportunity to respond in trust, in courage, and with grace and dignity. It is a good time to remind ourselves of the basic truths of our faith; that we are loved, deeply and eternally by God, that we are in His hands, and that He will bring us through this, as difficult as it may seem at times.
As we adjust to this new reality, I would like to encourage us all to enter more deeply into our Lenten journey. We face the real possibility that we may not be able to celebrate the Eucharist publicly for weeks, likely through Easter. Yet we are not alone. God is with us and reminds us “Be not afraid!” Although we may not be able to receive Him in the Eucharist, we can still meet Him spiritually any time we open our hearts to Him through prayer, the reading of Scripture, spiritual communions, or loving acts of support to our family or neighbors (even if it must be from 6 feet away! :) Here at the parish, we will be reaching out to you through our online presence, social media updates, and livestreaming of Masses. His grace is there for us all! May this time be an awakening for our hearts as we realize what a gift we have in our faith, in the Eucharist, in our church, in being able to worship in the freedom of our own homes. I close with these words of St. Thomas More in a letter to his daughter as he faced down the very real likelihood that he would give his life for his beliefs: “Nothing can come but what God wills...and even if it should seem very bad, it shall indeed be for the best.”
Please know of my prayers for you all. May God bless us and protect us always.
Peace and Good!
The manner of receiving this sacrament[Eucharist] is twofold, spiritual and sacramental.
St. Thomas Aquinas
What the last two chapters really come down to is that every time you and I go to receive Communion we have a choice between two ways of receiving. Recognizing that Christ is calling us to a unique personal encounter with Him (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit), we can prepare ourselves with great care, trying to rid ourselves of any barriers or obstacles to this union, and seeking to enter into communion with Him. Or, as in the example we saw of the “false person,” we can receive Christ without really desiring this union in our hearts and without even trying to remove the obstacles to it…
…The goal, as we saw in the last chapter, is to grow in the way we receive, maturing in our awareness, understanding, and desire for union with Christ, so that every sacramental reception will result in a more complete spiritual Communion. With me so far? Let’s go a little deeper. St. Thomas goes on to explain that this complete spiritual Communion can even take place when we are unable to receive sacramentally, because “the effect of a sacrament can be secured if it is received by desire.” Some people, he continues, “take this sacrament spiritually before they eat sacramentally,” and by their “desire of receiving the actual sacrament,” they thus “communicate spiritually, though not sacramentally.” What does this mean? It means that, in addition to the times when we can actually receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, we can also receive spiritually through our desire for the sacrament, uniting our hearts to the Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist. This is the reality that is expressed in Secret 7. Yes, there is a limit to the number of times you and I can receive the Eucharist sacramentally, but there is no limit to the number of times we can receive spiritually. Years ago, if I had read this, it wouldn’t have impressed me much. Like most Catholics, I had heard about spiritual Communion, but I viewed it as some kind of “consolation prize.” If, for one reason or another, you couldn’t receive Communion, you could at least unite yourself to Christ through prayer. There was certainly some value to this but, for me, the words “at least” implied that this was not real Communion.
As I learned more about the Eucharist and about what real Communion is, I came to understand that spiritual Communion is not a substitute for sacramental Communion, but a very real anticipation and extension of its fruits. The saints provide us with wonderful models for this. St. Francis de Sales resolved to make a spiritual Communion at least every 15 minutes so that he could link all the events of the day to his reception of the Eucharist at Mass. St. Maximilian Kolbe, in addition to his reception of the Eucharist, made frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament, often more than ten times a day. But even this was not enough for him, so, like St. Francis de Sales, he resolved to enter into spiritual Communion “at least once every quarter hour.” Kolbe stressed what we’ve already seen from St. Thomas Aquinas, that the graces of the Eucharist are received in proportion to our spiritual condition, our desire to be united with God. And, since God always honors our desire for union with Him, these graces are not limited to sacramental Communion. “At times,” Kolbe explained, “spiritual Communion brings the same graces as sacramental.” If this is true, then why do we ever need to receive sacramentally? Because Kolbe isn’t talking about “instead of,” but “in addition to.” As we saw above, true spiritual Communion is always an anticipation or an extension of sacramental Communion. Ideally, it is both.
Reprinted with permission from Vinny Flynn’s “Seven Secrets of the Eucharist.”