Below are messages from Father Sergio Muñoz Fita concerning St. Anne Roman Catholic Parish and our current situation with the Coronavirus. Updates from the Diocese of Phoenix and Bishop Olmsted are located here.
4/3/20 - DO YOU WANT TO RECEIVE THE BLESSING OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT IN YOUR HOME THIS PALM SUNDAY?
As you know, this Sunday we begin the most important week of the liturgical calendar and the circumstances this year make it impossible for us to celebrate as we have in the past. In the spirit of bringing Jesus closer to your families, within the limited parameters we have and in obedience to the legitimate civil and ecclesiastical authorities for whom we do not stop praying, it has occurred to me that we can do the following: on Palm Sunday, after the 7am Holy Mass from 9 am and until 9 pm, I will take the Blessed Sacrament by car to the homes of those parishioners who request this blessing through the St. Anne parish website. In respect for the 6 foot physical/social distancing imposed in the present circumstances, the blessing will take place when I am standing curbside next to the car and the family by the door of their house.
The executive order given by the Governor of the State of Arizona, on March 30, 2020 (executive order 2020/18), includes among the essential activities that are permitted those that are protected by the Constitution. Among those expressly mentioned by the Governor are the rights of speech and religion. The only restriction to these activities is respect for "appropriate physical distance".
On the other hand, the Diocese of Phoenix has asked priests to stop visiting families inside their homes in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, it has encouraged us to seek other ways to communicate with our parishioners and express to them the closeness of the Lord in these trying times. Photographs of priests carrying the Eucharist in procession through the streets and blessing the Catholic population of their communities have been published in the Diocesan media.
Therefore, to those who want to receive a blessing with the Blessed Sacrament this Sunday, we are going to ask you to request it online through the following link:
I want to stress the fact that I will give the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament standing next to my car, and I ask families to remain by the door of the house to respect hygiene protocols and thus be able to perform the blessing in a way that does not compromise anyone’s health. We must practice holy obedience. It will also be a way for your pastor to see you face to face, although it will only be for a few moments because I am thinking that there will be many who will desire the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.
We will use an app so that each of the families who signs up can follow this journey with the Blessed Sacrament and receive, by email or text message, notices about the approximate time at which Jesus will be arriving. This will allow each family to plan and prepare accordingly.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. This blessing will give the families of our parish an opportunity to welcome Jesus, the Son of David, the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel, as they did in the first Holy Week in history. It would be beautiful if families who can do so would place a palm on their door or at the entrance of their homes as a way to evoke Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. These palms, along with the families, will be blessed in the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament from the street.
To the families who wish to receive the blessing, I ask them to wait for the Lord at the entrance of their houses, next to the door. Knowing the time when the Lord will arrive at your home, you can take advantage of the immediately preceding moments to pray together while awaiting the Lord. If you have young children, help them to feel excited that Jesus is going to pass by their house to bless them. You can find materials prepared by the Diocese of Phoenix specifically for this year, thinking of families that will not be able to participate in parish celebrations as usual, through the following link:
Parents can lead these prayers and help their children understand the beauty of this Holy Week.
I cannot enter your homes and I cannot give you, as much as I would like to, Holy Communion, but I can bring the Blessed Sacrament to bless your families from the street. I am grateful to the authorities for allowing us to do this. Remember, Jesus did not need to enter the house to heal the son of the royal official (Jn 4:46-54) and the servant of the Roman centurion. (Mt 8:5-13)
I wish you all an Easter filled with many graces of conversion and new life.
May the Lord and Mary bless you,
Yesterday I announced that today, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I was going to communicate to the parish a ministry for the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful during the period when the celebration of public Masses has been suspended, in accordance with the norms that had been given to us by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. With infinite sadness, I must announce that for the time being such a ministry cannot be carried out.
I want to thank from the bottom of my heart all those who have helped me in this effort, and all the people who offered in one way or another to collaborate in it. These experiences confirm more and more my conviction that St. Anne really is the best parish in the world.
I finish by sending much encouragement and hope to everyone. As I said just two days ago, quoting St. John of the Cross, “Men do not do these things, but God, who knows what is suitable for us and arranges things for our good. Think nothing else but that God ordains all, and where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love."
May God and Mary bless you all.
SINE DOMINICO NON POSSUMUS – We cannot live without the Sunday Eucharist
Dear St. Anne Parishioners:
I am writing to you to tell you of my intention to establish a ministry for the distribution of Holy Communion on Sundays during this time when the public celebration of Holy Mass is suspended. I want to ask everyone to work well together from the beginning to organize this as quickly and efficiently as possible so that we can begin as soon as possible.
In two days we will have more details about how to request Holy Communion and how to organize ourselves. It will be difficult to have everything ready for this weekend, but it should be operational for the next.
As I said last week, each one has to choose, in the presence of God, what level of exposure they should have to the virus in the face of possible contagion.
In compliance with our dear Bishop and the civil authorities (to whom we owe obedience until we are ordered to commit sin), I feel before God the obligation to strengthen my people in hope and offer them the Bread from Heaven to nourish them. Let us ask ourselves two questions. Can a pastor stop feeding the Eucharist to his parishioners indefinitely if there is a way for him to feed them? Can the Christian people live without receiving the grace of the Eucharist?
To answer the first question, I turn to the Code of Canon Law to recall the obligations of a pastor as the Church describes them: “The pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful. He is to work so that the Christian faithful are nourished through the devout celebration of the sacraments and, in a special way, that they frequently approach the sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and penance. He is also to endeavor that they are led to practice prayer even as families and take part consciously and actively in the sacred liturgy…” (CCC 528)
It is evident that there are causes that can temporarily excuse the access to Holy Communion by the faithful, but I in conscience believe that, if possible now more than ever, I must sustain the faith of my community with the spiritual food of the Eucharist.
To answer the second question, “Can the Christian people live without the Eucharist?” I am going to quote the words of our Holy Father Emeritus, Benedict XVI, in one of his first apostolic trips outside of Rome, in May of 2005.
“In Abitene, a small village in present-day Tunisia, 49 Christians were taken by surprise one Sunday while they were celebrating the Eucharist, gathered in the house of Octavius Felix, thereby defying the imperial prohibitions. They were arrested and taken to Carthage to be interrogated by the Proconsul Anulinus. Significant among other things is the answer a certain Emeritus gave to the Proconsul who asked him why on earth they had disobeyed the Emperor's severe orders. He replied: "Sine dominico non possumus": that is, we cannot live without joining together on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist. We would lack the strength to face our daily problems and not to succumb. After atrocious tortures, these 49 martyrs of Abitene were killed. Thus, they confirmed their faith with bloodshed. They died, but they were victorious: today we remember them in the glory of the Risen Christ.
The experience of the martyrs of Abitene is also one on which we 21st-century Christians should reflect. It is not easy for us either to live as Christians, even if we are spared such prohibitions from the emperor. From a spiritual point of view, the world in which we find ourselves, often marked by unbridled consumerism, religious indifference and a secularism closed to transcendence, can appear a desert just as "vast and terrible" (Dt 8: 15) as the one we heard about in the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy. God came to the aid of the Jewish people in difficulty in this desert with his gift of manna, to make them understand that "not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord" (Dt 8: 3).
We need this Bread to face the fatigue and weariness of our journey. Sunday, the Lord's Day, is a favorable opportunity to draw strength from him, the Lord of life. The Sunday precept is not, therefore, an externally imposed duty, a burden on our shoulders. On the contrary, taking part in the Celebration, being nourished by the Eucharistic Bread and experiencing the communion of their brothers and sisters in Christ is a need for Christians, it is a joy; Christians can thus replenish the energy they need to continue on the journey we must make every week (…) “
If the Eucharist is truly what the Church has always taught us; if it is the source and summit of the Christian life; if we have learned the lesson of the Eucharistic martyrs who loved the Blessed Sacrament with more intensity than they feared their own death; if the words of Christ, "If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and do not drink his blood, you have no life in you” are words that we must take seriously; If all of the above is true, then I consider it my responsibility as a pastor, in these moments of trial, to strengthen with Holy Communion those who legitimately ask for the Eucharist, all the more so that the Christian faithful have the right to ask for the sacraments according to the norms of the Church. (Code of Canon Law, c. 213, c. 912)
On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, God willing, I will share a plan so that those who so desire can receive Holy Communion on Sunday while remaining in obedience to our Bishop and following the recommendations of the civil authorities.
Finally, I ask that we pray for our beloved Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted since he is going through probably the most difficult time since he arrived in the Diocese of Phoenix, for all of us, so that God may grant us the grace of fidelity to his love and we can come out of this test more united to the Lord and among ourselves.
It is everyone's time. Our beloved parish of St. Anne needs us. May God and Mary bless you,
P.S. The families of our staff have never been as much in your hands as they are now. Therefore, I ask you, in these difficult times, to continue financially supporting the apostolic efforts of St. Anne and the families of our workers. Without your help now, we will not be able to endure this situation for long. For this reason, I encourage you to donate online using the following link:
https://giving.parishsoft.com/app/giving/stanneaz Thank you very much and God bless you.
"The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Mt 9:15
Dear St. Anne Family,
A day that we will never forget is coming to a close. The Bridegroom has been taken from us. Today I have seen a good number of people cry when they heard the news that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been suspended until further notice in the Diocese of Phoenix. Other people have been shocked as if such implausible news could not be real.
The Bridegroom has been taken from us and today we cannot be happy. Honestly, today I want nothing more than to express my sadness and share it with you. I want to tell you that your pastor suffers with you. Beginning tomorrow, we will have to face the challenges that this new situation poses for us, but today, what can we say? "The bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast." Arizona's Catholic faithful will have to fast from the Eucharist.
Perhaps we have not valued the gift of the Holy Mass enough. Perhaps we had become so accustomed to receiving Holy Communion and were doing it so coldly, or so lukewarmly, that the Lord has allowed us to be left without it for a time so that, in the absence of it, our desire to receive it would grow with new intensity, with devotion, with burning love.
I want to end these words with a memory. In June of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI called a jubilee for priests around the world on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Mary Vianney. It was called the “Year for Priests”. At that time I was in Rome studying, and I was able to experience in person the events and celebrations that took place during that year. One of these events was a meeting of priests from all over the world with the Holy Father in Saint Peter's Square on June 10, 2010. It was a meeting of prayer and dialogue with the Successor of Saint Peter. I remember that Pope Benedict told us that the priest is called to pray for his people and on behalf of the people. He reminded us that our first responsibility is prayer. He said: “Prayer is not a marginal thing: it is the “occupation” of the priest to pray, as representative of the people.”
Tomorrow, Fathers Joal and Job and myself will offer the Holy Mass representing all of you. We will pray uniting you and on behalf of all of you.
We will also continue to offer confessions - outside of the church - as the Bishop is allowing us. We will publish information as it becomes available. I intend to walk alongside all of you through these difficult times.
In our sadness let's not lose hope. ”Men do not do these things, but God, who knows what is suitable for us and arranges things for our good. Think nothing else but that God ordains all, and where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love ...” (Saint John of the Cross, letter 26).
Lord, forgive us. Lord, help us. Lord, don't abandon us.
May God and Mary bless you,
May the Lord give you peace!
My beloved parishioners,
At 4 pm today Bishop Olmsted released an important statement concerning the celebration of Masses in the Dioceses of Phoenix.
Effective immediately and until further notice, Bishop Olmsted is suspending all weekday and Sunday Masses, and asking for all parish-based public gatherings to be cancelled.
By the end of the day, I will be announcing how this decision will be implemented at St. Anne.
At this point, I ask you to do a Spiritual Communion with these or similar words: “My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.” (St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri)
Right now I am going to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which I will offer for all your families and intentions. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” (Rm 8:28).
May the Lord and Mary bless you,
Click the button below to see the latest update from the Diocese of Phoenix.
I want to confess to you that contrary to what many people had recommended to me, I was not going to say anything about "the subject" that is occupying the attention of everyone this week. I did not want to speak about it because I have the impression that everyone is speaking and speaking about it and my voice would be just one more - and not exactly the wisest, the holiest or the most knowledgeable - among so many others.
However, yesterday evening we received a message from Bishop Olmsted with measures that must be implemented immediately in all parishes in the diocese.
I understand that it is a time of confusion, and I recommend silence in the heart. Each parish priest has an opinion, each bishop takes different measures and sometimes contradictory messages are given, and often what is said in the morning is corrected in the afternoon.
Perhaps this is a sign that, in fact, it is legitimate to have different opinions on this matter and that each one is called to be faithful to God in his conscience and in fidelity to the Gospel although that may mean different behaviors or different responses to the same problem.
As God asks me to act according to my conscience, after the message I received last night from our dear Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, and after listening, thinking and praying about what God wanted me to do as pastor of St Anne, I have decided the following:
- All non-liturgical / non-sacramental activities on campus are suspended until further notice as we determine what our long-term course of action will be.
- In relation to the liturgical life of the parish, we will be implementing the decisions made by Bishop Olmsted. I apologize if this sometimes causes confusion, since situations may arise in which new decisions correct, extend or replace previous decisions. Such implementations or changes will be projected on the wall as necessary.
- One of these implementations reads as follows: “Encourage the following to stay home: A. Those who are sick. B. Those considered high risk due to age or chronic health conditions.”
- As long as the priests of our parish remain healthy, the sacramental life of St. Anne will remain unchanged. We will continue with the same Masses and the same Confession schedules.
- I want to clarify that my purpose is not to avoid spreading the disease. I leave that to the provident hand of God, to the civil authorities, to the common sense and conscience of each person. Each one must choose in the presence of God and according to his personal circumstances what degree of exposure he wants to have to a possible contagion. Our goal here at St. Anne, is to provide our families with the opportunity to make the best choices for their family in light of the virus.
- I invite you to use our parish mobile app, Flocknote, the St. Anne Parish website and the St. Anne Facebook page to help us keep the channels of communication open for updates from the parish as new changes or new information as it becomes available.
- I also invite you to continue helping people who, with this situation, will be affected. I am not thinking only of the sick, but of families who suffer or will suffer from the social and economic consequences of the disease or the news related to the disease. Charity is not in quarantine.
- I trust that this situation is, with the grace of God, an opportunity to grow as a parish, to develop potentials that were latent in our community, to see more abundant and beautiful acts of charity, patience, and peace.
- We have spoken frequently in recent months about the importance of financially supporting the parish through online giving. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to take this step, especially in circumstances where, due to illness, we cannot leave the house.
- God knows well how to minister to evil - from death came life. May everyone's response be holiness.
May God and Mary bless you,
Click the button below to view "A Pastoral Message from Bishop Olmsted in Regards to the Coronavirus in our Community."