Coronavirus Update #4, Phase II of Opening of Churches and Public Worship
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
May we hold closely the words of Christ the Good Shepherd that we listen to on the 4th Sunday of Easter, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This Gospel verse was the theme for World Youth Day in Denver, CO in 1993. I had the honor of being present and listen to St. John Paul II passionately preach about the sacredness of life at all stages, from conception to a natural death. During this current crisis, when life and health is threatened by a pandemic, may we unite together to promote and protect the sacredness of life especially among those groups of people that are most vulnerable.
As you are aware, on Wednesday, 6 May, Governor Dunleavy announced Phase II for re-opening the State of Alaska. New guidelines are coming out for various types of businesses and public gatherings of people. This good news is based upon data indicating a reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. Phase II simply increases the number of people we can gather in a church building. Previous health protocols published in Alaska Health Mandate 16, Attachment N and can be found on the State of Alaska COVID-19 webpage.
Every year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. This year we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic. In that spirit, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced that the U.S. bishops will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 1 in renewing the consecrations of the two nations to the care of our Blessed Mother.
On that basis, I am pleased to invite you to join with me in spirit for the prayer of reconsecration of our nation to the protection of the Blessed Mother on May 1 at 11:00 am AKDT. If you would like to follow Archbishop Gomez during his service at 12pm PDT the link is https://lacatholics.org/consecration. The service will also be livestreamed via the USCCB’s website at http://www.usccb.org/consecration at 3:00pm EDT.
The consecration on May 1 follows a similar action of the bishops’ conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) who consecrated their nations to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter Sunday. The renewal of consecration planned in this country for May 1 does not change the designation of Mary as the Patroness of the United States under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Rather, this prayer reaffirms and renews previous Marian entrustments, and unites us in solidarity with our Holy Father, who recently established the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, as a source of protection and strength.
The Order of Worship is attached in both English and Spanish.
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks
Coronavirus Update #3, Partial Opening of Churches and Public Worship
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Peace Be With You! This was the greeting the Risen Christ extended to His disciples who were gathered in a locked room out of fear. Jesus walked through the locked doors, breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and greeted them with peace.
Last week, I had the opportunity to join our young adults in an on-line faith formation discussion. I recall a few of them sharing, “I feel just like the disciples in the Gospel from Sunday. I know what it means to be filled with isolation, fear, and confusion in a locked-up room.” Many similar experiences were shared about being “locked-up at home” during Holy Week and the Octave of Easter. I was encouraged by their optimistic attitudes about growing in their faith in a way they never expected. They expressed an intense, growing thirst for the Eucharist. Several commented that they were starting to understand what our brothers and sisters in the villages experience regularly, only having access to the Sacraments about every 6-8 weeks. The young adults acknowledged a burning desire to be back to Church physically with their faith communities for the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass.
These protocols will change as we enter into Phase II but for now, we ask that you cooperate with these changes as we enter Phase I.
1. Church will open 30 Minutes before Mass and close 5 minutes after Mass a. Since the social hall is closed and the church needs to be cleaned after each use, people should depart within 5 minutes of the end of Mass.
2. Only 19 People will be allowed into the church at any one time.
a. We ask that you limit yourself to one daily Mass per week
3. All attending need to wear a face mask
4. There will not be any missalettes so please bring an electronic device or your own missalette if you need one.
5. No ministers will assist with the Mass
a. Priest will read all the readings
6. Music will be kept to a minimum as the social distancing rule for singing is 10 feet.
7. Reception of Communion will be by hand only
a. Keep six feet distance from the person in front of you
b. Please stretch out your arms, cup your hands and the priest will place host into your hand
c. Step six feet from the priest
i. Unveil the mask consume the host
ii. Place mask back on covering mouth and nose
iii. Return to your assigned seat
8. After the final blessing, the Church needs to be cleaned so please within 5 minutes of the close of Mass.
I have many vivid memories of Easter from my childhood, but the one that stands out most vividly is holding a candle and renewing my baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil. I didn’t completely understand why we renewed our vows, renounced sin, and professed faith in Our Risen Lord. But I was proud to hold my little lit candle in the dark and reconfirm my faith in Jesus Christ, whom I loved very much with the simple devotion of a child.
In the past year, I have begun to reflect more on Easter’s profound connection to our baptism. Unfortunately, the Resurrection of the Son of God too often seems overshadowed by the commercial focus on stuffed rabbits and chocolates. But St. Paul succinctly reminds us of the “reason for the season”: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).
This Friday, April 10, 2020, Alaskans across our great state will join together in a Day of Prayer and Hope. In a Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day, issued on March 30, 1863, President Lincoln wrote that “[i]t is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, … and to recognize the sublime truth … that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” Over 150 years later, former President Barak Obama issued a similar Proclamation, urging the nation to join him on its knees and offering a beautiful reflection on the power of prayer to strengthen, comfort, heal, and unite:
For many of us, prayer is an important expression of faith. ... Through prayer we find the strength to do God's work: to feed the hungry, care for the poor, comfort the afflicted, and make peace where there is strife. In times of uncertainty or tragedy, Americans offer humble supplications for comfort for those who mourn, for healing for those who are sick, and for protection for those who are in harm's way. When we pray, we are reminded that we are not alone -- our hope is a common hope, our pain is shared, and we are all children of God.
There is power in prayer. Accordingly, pursuant to their respective faiths and consciences, Alaskans are invited to join the Governor and their fellow citizens in praying for our state on Friday, April 10. Pray with your family around the kitchen table; pray with your neighbors by phone; pray with your church, your synagogue, your mosque or your temple, using an online platform. Let us pray and hope together:
1. Pray for protection for our healthcare workers, our first responders, and for everyone who is putting themselves in harm’s way to care for the sick. 2. Pray for peace and unity in our families, in our communities, and in our local and state governments. 3. Pray for comfort for those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. 4. Pray for those who are sick with COVID-19 or with any other illness. 5. Pray for a speedy end to the COVID-19 pandemic in our state, our nation, and the world. 6. Pray for a swift and complete economic recovery for our state and our nation. 7. Pray for those who have lost jobs and are struggling to care for themselves and their families. 8. Pray for our leaders in government – that they would make wise decisions for the good of all Alaskans. 9. Pray for the resiliency of Alaska’s children – that they would continue to learn, grow, and thrive. 10. Pray for the homeless, the hungry and the poor, and for those who are caring for them.
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement for Holy Week.
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
“Future generations will look back on this as the long Lent of 2020, a time when disease and death suddenly darkened the whole earth. As we enter into Holy Week, these most sacred days of the year, Catholics across the United States and the world are living under quarantine, our societies shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
“But we know that our Redeemer lives. Even in this extraordinary and challenging moment, we give thanks for what Jesus Christ has done for us by his life, death, and resurrection. Even now, we marvel at the beautiful mystery of our salvation, how precious each one of us is in the eyes of God.
“These are times almost without precedent in the long history of the Church. In the face of this worldwide contagion, bishops here and in almost every country have been forced to temporarily suspend public worship and celebration of the sacraments.
An Urgent Request- Day of Fasting & Prayer - 3 April 2020
My Dear Brothers and Sisters:
In a recent conversation, a woman said to me, “Bishop, amidst this pandemic and all the awful things happening in our world, I am finding this to be the best Lent I have ever experienced. My life has been slowed down. I have time to focus on prayer and in fact, I am praying more, thanks to the various devotions, Mass, Stations, Morning Prayer, etc., that have become so readily available through social media. My family is communicating more, we don’t rush out the door to our next hurried event and we are sharing meals together regularly.” These words from a faithful Catholic woman reminded me of the words written in the verses from the prophet Joel:
“Yet even now—oracle of the LORD— return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God, For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment.” (2:12-13)
As we face the painful difficulty of experiencing the holy longing that suspended Masses and church buildings being closed brings, I invite us to turn more intently and deeply toward Christ. I ask that you join myself, and the priests and religious of the Diocese of Fairbanks, in a Day of Fasting and Prayer on Friday, April 3, to ask for the grace to draw closer to Christ and in praying for an end to this pandemic. I ask you to follow the guidelines for a day of fasting just as we would on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Also, I highly encourage you to set aside family time to pray in an intentional way: The Stations of the Cross, The Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe to End the Pandemic, The Holy Rosary, or any other devotions and various litanies. St. John Paul II, wrote in his document, “The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World”, this reminder regarding the importance of prayer and the family:
“The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the Domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer.” (§59)
I want to personally share with each of you that I truly agonize over the fact you are not able to be physically present at Mass. Your parish priests feel the same way; they miss you and the fullness your participation at Mass brings. However, I urge you with a mighty and steadfast faith to know for certain, that during our daily Masses, when we say, “Pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to God the Almighty Father,” this includes your sacrifices--anything and everything that is within you. We sincerely offer every wound, trauma, anger, hatred, rejoicing, thanksgiving, worry and concern that lives within you and we place them on the altar as your personal sacrifice. Christ’s Sacrifice, in the Mass, transcends space and time. This is why we pray in the Eucharistic prayer, “In your compassion, O merciful Father, gather to yourself all your children scattered throughout the world.” No matter where we are scattered through the world, we experience the fruitful effects of the One Eternal Sacrifice.
I thank you and your family for participating in prayer and fasting as we draw more closely united in heart and mind as the Mystical Body of Christ, while asking Jesus the Divine Physician, to heal our world of this horrific pandemic. May the words of Ps 51:12 be ever on our lips in prayer: “A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.”
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks
Adoration: The tabernacle in the Chancery Chapel has been placed in the window with a light on it to be adored from the Chancery Building parking lot 24/7. The Chancery is located at 1316 Peger Road, Fairbanks, Ak.
Daily Exposition: The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed at 6-7pm everyday with a guided Holy Hour to be Facebook live streamed on Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks Facebook Page. The monstrance will be placed in the window of the Chancery Chapel to be viewed from the parking lot. People can gather in their vehicle observing physical distancing protocols.
Saturday Exposition, Eucharistic procession and Benediciton: The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in the monstrance from the Chancery Chapel to be viewed in the parking lot from 1-4 PM. At the conclusion of the adoration, there will be a Eucharistic procession of just the priest and server through the parking lot (please remain in your vehicles). Priest will be available for confessions outside in such a way to maintain a 6 foot distance.
Confessions: If anyone desires confession, please contact your parish and ask for a priest.
Speaking with a priest: If anyone is need of speaking with a priest, please contact your parish.
If you are concerned that you are unable to receive absolution by not going to confession during the pandamic, the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, has published a resource for bishops, THE CARE OF SOULS AND THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS DURING THIS PANDEMIC.
Bishop Chad Zielinski would like to share the following with you from the document:
“Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).”
• perfect contrition requires • the love of God • the sincere desire for forgiveness • the ardent commitment to receive the sacrament of reconciliation when available
This is reaffirmed in Pope Francis's homily on March 20, 2020:
“I know that many of you go to confession before Easter… Many will say to me: ‘But Father…I can't leave the house and I want to make my peace with the Lord. I want Him to embrace me… How can I do that unless I find a priest?’. Do what the catechism says. It's very clear. If you don't find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He's your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God's grace immediately. You yourself can draw near, as the catechism teaches us, to God's forgiveness,s without having a priest at hand.”
CCC, no. 1452: When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.
There are a variety of different Acts of Contrition suggested in the Rite of Penance. Here are a few of them.
Act of Contrition (traditional)
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.
Act of Contrition (alternate form) My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
An Act of Contrition inspired by the Gospels Father of mercy, like the prodigal son I return to you and say: "I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your child." Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, I pray with the repentant thief to whom you promised Paradise: "Lord, remember me in your kingdom." Holy Spirit, fountain of love, I call on you with trust: "Purify my heart, and help me to walk as a child of light."
An Act of Contrition inspired by the Gospels Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, forgave the sinful woman, and after Peter's denial confirmed him in your love. Listen to my prayer: forgive all my sins, renew your love in my heart, help me to live in perfect unity with my fellow Christians that I may proclaim your saving power to all the world.
An Act of Contrition to Our Lord Jesus Lord Jesus, you chose to be called the friend of sinners. By your saving death and resurrection free me from my sins. May your peace take root in my heart and bring forth a harvest of love, holiness, and truth.
An Act of Contrition to Jesus, the Lamb of God Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God; you take away the sins of the world. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit restore me to friendship with your Father, cleanse me from every stain of sin in the blood you shed for me, and raise me to new life for the glory of your name.
An Act of Contrition inspired by Psalm 51 Lord God, in your goodness have mercy on me: do not look on my sins, but take away all my guilt. Create in me a clean heart and renew within me an upright spirit.
The Jesus Prayer Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.