We’ve now been in this bizarre state for two weeks, and two weekends.  I know many of you are every bit as frustrated as I am, especially now that our own State of West Virginia has seen outbreaks in surrounding counties, and we have been given a shelter-in-place order.  Unfortunately, there appears to be no end in sight for right now.

This past Friday, the Bishop communicated to the priests of the Diocese that our churches will remain closed at least through Holy Week and Easter Sunday.  I cannot tell you the impact that this will have on our parish communities: spiritually, emotionally, and, yes, financially.  We’ve already been experiencing a Lent to remember, and this Easter will likewise be different.  As a priest, I am trying to prepare myself spiritually and psychologically for once again performing the ancient rites of the Sacred Triduum, but now, for the first—and God-willing the only—time in solitude.

Over the coming days, I’ll be putting together resources to aid you in your devotions at home.  They will be a poor substitute for coming together as a community of faith—especially at the Easter Vigil, which is the mother of all liturgies, in which we are literally transported from darkness into light!  But we must do what we can.  My hope is to be able to provide a home guide to all of you for ways in which you can mark the days of the Triduum with a level of solemnity and devotion.  I’ll live-stream a reflection and catechesis for each of the days of the Triduum on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, in the hopes that despite our unprecedented circumstances, we will gather in spirit, and I’ll post a schedule for that soon.

With Palm Sunday coming up this weekend, obviously we will not be able to distribute palms to the parish.  However, they will be blessed, and we will distribute them to the parish at a later time.  My hope is that we will be able to gather for a big parish celebration of the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross on September 14, on which we will have a procession of palms and ensure that everyone gets one of these important sacramentals that is a powerful reminder of Our Lord’s triumph over death and the exuberance with which he was proclaimed as the Messiah on his entry into Jerusalem.

I came across an excellent idea just yesterday for Palm Sunday…that everyone affix a green branch (be it palm or otherwise) to their front door for the weekend, as an exterior reminder that we are still keeping the Feast of the Lord, even if we are doing so in our own homes.

As we enter into Holy Week with this Sunday, I’ll be pushing out some more content on the particular observances of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum, and how we all can and should be marking the occasions in our own homes.

Until then, don’t forget that there will be a live-stream of Eucharistic Adoration at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening, and the Stations of the Cross on Friday at 6:00 p.m.  So, join us then, and stay tuned for updates, parish messages, catechesis and more!

Everyone stay healthy.  May God bless you, and may the prayers of Our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, St. Boniface, St. Patrick, the fourteen Holy Helpers, and all the angels and Saints win for us the grace to persevere in our trials!