2 Cor. 13:11-13
Every year the Sunday after the celebration of Pentecost is reserved for the celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. At the heart of this celebration for Catholic Christians is the mystery that we believe in one God made up of three divine persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In another way we believe in God the creator, God the redeemer and God the sustainer. When we reflect on this mystery, that is totally beyond our ability to fully comprehend, we believe in a God who lives in community and is totally united with one another.
This concept is so very important as we find ourselves in a country where our communities are fractured and there appears to be very little unity among the various segments of our society. We find the sin of racism, which is ever present in our communities, rearing it ugly head in very dramatic ways.
At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic we realized that although all might be vulnerable, all were not equally vulnerable. Blacks, Latinos and Native peoples are the vast majority of those infected and killed by this virus. The contributing factors for this vulnerability have been documented for decades: lack of insurance, less access to healthcare, negligent treatment from and by healthcare professionals, overcrowded housing, unsafe and unsanitary working conditions. All of this compounded by how the least paid and protected workers are considered “essential” and must be exposed to the virus’ hazards.
Then in the last four months we have witnessed the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbrey, shot on February 23rd; Breanna Taylor shot in her apartment by police on March 13th and George Floyd who was choked to death by police on May 25th.
These tragic deaths reinforce for us the reality of the sin of racism that seems to be a sad part of the fabric of our country and society. It certainly is a desire and a hope that we could once and for all eliminate this evil from our midst, but from my experience ling on this earth, I have found that regardless of the work that we do today that racism will rear its ugly head again and again in the future. I don’t say that because I am pessimistic or fatalistic but because that is the nature of evil. I think of the experience of Jesus in the desert being tempted by the Devil. At the end of the trials and tribulations it states that the Devil left him for a more opportune time. Jesus was going to have to deal with evil over and over again throughout the course of his journey. We also will have to deal with the reality of evil in our midst over and over during the course of our journey.
I am greatly impressed by the diversity of those who demonstrate and march in our City Streets. They have witnessed terrible injustices and the brokenness of our criminal justice system. But as opposed to only crying and complaining about what has occurred they are willing to put their lives on the line. I know that some would be critical of the looters and rioters but these are a very small number of the overall group. In reality the overwhelming majority are peaceful, responsible demonstrators looking to address an evil and make the necessary changes to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Today we celebrate the Unity and Community of a God we believe in. May we pray that this Unity and Community is a part of our daily lives and when we are confronted by the evil of racism may we have the courage to name it and also the fortitude to address the injustice and do what is necessary to bring about good.
PLAN FOR THE REOPENING OF OUR CHURCHES
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is pleased to announce the Diocese of Brooklyn will slowly work towards going back to normal by opening the doors of the churches on May 26, 2020 for private prayer and devotion as well as for funerals and limited celebrations of baptisms and weddings. The following directives will apply in general and individual churches should prepare further directions which the faithful must adhere to when visiting a church.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CHURCHES MAY OPEN THEIR DOORS ON MAY 26TH.
Stage 1: Opening of Churches for private prayer and devotion, Funerals, Baptisms and Weddings (May 26th)
Stage 2: Limited Celebrations of Daily Mass (No date has been set yet)
Stage 3: Limited Celebrations of Sunday Mass (No date has been set yet)
Stage 4: Celebration of First Holy Communion and Confirmation (No date has been set yet)
· After the churches reopen for private prayer and devotion, the full reopening of the churches for liturgical celebrations will begin after the order for reopening of large gatherings has been given. This is important because of the danger of gathered crowds and the possible spread of the virus.
· The churches will be marked off with tape to show areas that adhere to social distancing guidelines.
· The elderly and all who are health-compromised ARE ADVISED to stay home. Also, In the past 14 days if you have you experienced: fever (temperature of 100.4), cough, shortness of breath, chills/repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, you ARE ASKED TO STAY HOME. If you tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, YOU ARE ASKED TO STAY HOME. This is for the safety of others in the community.
· There will be NO holy water in the fonts.
· Hymnals, missalettes and any other worship aids will be removed from the pews and stored away.
· Bulletins are not distributed.
· Parishioners must wear masks, which they will bring on their own from home. No one should be in church without a mask.
· Parishioners are to be encouraged to bring hand sanitizer from home.
· Restrooms are open and available but used by one person at a time.
· For the foreseeable future, parishes may not schedule any events which will draw crowds and make social distancing difficult.
PRIVATE PRAYER AND DEVOTION
· The church will be open 4 hours each day. These hours will not coincide with the time a Mass is celebrated in the church.
· There is to be no congregating of people (e.g. gathering to say a rosary together). There should not be more than ten (10) people in the church and there cannot be a group gathered.
· The faithful cannot touch statues or other devotional objects in the church.
The directives indicated above apply for funerals as well.
Funeral services will be permitted but are to be strictly limited to 10 people. Holy Communion will not be distributed at these services.
Persons attending the funeral must be seated using social distancing norms (Six  feet apart) except for members of the same household and everyone must wear a mask or face covering.
Baptisms will take place with social distancing guidelines being enforced and limited to 10 or fewer participants. Baptisms can be celebrated only with prior consolation with the Office of the Chancellor.
Weddings will take place with social distancing guidelines being enforced and, at first, limited to 10 or fewer participants. No Nuptial Masses will be celebrated at this time. Holy Communion should not be distributed at this time. Weddings can be celebrated only with prior consultation with the Office of the Chancellor.
No gatherings of more than ten (10) persons is permitted. Outdoor services can only take place with the prior approval of the Vicar General of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
Anointings will be celebrated with the usual safety measures in place. Priests will wear mask and gloves and the anointing will take place with the use of a cotton ball which is to be reverently disposed of after each anointing. Any guidelines that are in place in hospitals or other institutions must be respected. There are to be no celebrations of communal anointings in church.
Confessions will take place with the priest and penitent both wearing masks and remaining at least six (6) feet distant from one another. A space other than a traditional confessional might need to be used. A larger space will be needed. Care must be taken to assure that no lines or groups form for confessions.