Cardinal O'Malley poses for a photo with the Oils of the Sick enclosed in plastic bottles. The Sister Disciples prepared these special plastic containers that will be distributed to the priests on the COVID-19 response team. Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org
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Sunday was, of course, Divine Mercy Sunday and so I was very happy to celebrate a televised Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This was followed by three hours of prayer and adoration carried live on the CatholicTV Network.
Divine Mercy is such an important devotion in the life of the Church, which spread so quickly after John Paul II's introduction of St. Faustina to the Universal Church and, of course, his canonizing her in the year 2000 and designating the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
In my homily, I reflected on how the Divine Mercy image itself parallels the description of Jesus appearing to the Apostles because, in the image, Christ appears with wounded hands and showing his wounded side. In today's world, in which there is so much suffering, there is such a great hunger among people to experience God's loving mercy.
Webinar for priests
On Monday, we held a webinar for priests and parish leaders to begin a conversation about what the process of reopening our parishes might look like. We were pleased with the great response to our invitation -- there were over 450 participants.
Although we are approaching the peak of coronavirus infections in our area and we are one of the hotspots of COVID-19 (third in the nation, after New York and New Jersey), we want to begin to plan for how we can have a staged reopening of our churches and ministries. So, this was an initial conversation, and we have asked people for their ideas about how this can be done.
I see that, in Italy, the bishops' conference is beginning conversations with the civil authorities. Here, we are trying to support the government's plans for public safety. I am also very, very aware that the elderly and immigrants -- two of the largest demographics in the life of the Church here in the Archdiocese of Boston -- are also the groups in which there have been the most deaths due to the coronavirus. So, as anxious as we all are to begin the public celebration of Masses and other sacraments, we want to be very careful and do it in a way that is responsible.
We have people studying this issue and coming up with proposals so that, when we get to the point where we are ready to begin the first phase of reopening, we will have a plan in place that will allow us to begin to have public celebrations once again. We will be having more of these webinars, which are such a good way for people to bring their questions and suggestions to the leadership of the archdiocese.
The Papal Foundation
On Thursday, we had another of our meetings of the Papal Foundation. Of course, the Papal Foundation is very anxious to help the Holy Father address the crisis brought about by the pandemic in many parts of the world.
I am very grateful to the members of the foundation for all the time that they give to this organization and their support of the Holy Father and the works of mercy that are carried out in his name.
Team of priests for COVID-19 response
As I mentioned last week, we have established a team of priests who are going to be bringing the Anointing of the Sick to COVID-19 patients in hospitals. These priests cannot use their regular oil stocks because the oils could become contaminated. We also realize that perhaps some of our priests are running low on Oil of the Sick because it has already been more than a year since our last Chrism Mass. So, this week, I had a special blessing of the oils at the cathedral rectory.
The Sister Disciples were good enough to prepare these special plastic containers that will be distributed to the priests on our COVID-19 response team that will allow the oil to be dispensed as needed.
We are very grateful to the priests who have volunteered to serve in this ministry, and we ask everyone to pray for them, their mission, and their safety.