Saint Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church
Where God is Glorified & His People are Sanctified
March 20, 2020
Dear Sister and Brothers in Christ,
Thank you for taking the time to read this long letter. I know many of us feel overwhelmed with information these days, but I want to be sure that all the members of our family are remaining fully informed throughout these difficult times.
Like you, this has been a most worrisome week. Like you, I have more questions than answers. How long will this last? Will I remain safe? Should I go out and visit someone? Will my food supplies last? Where is God in all of this? I do hope that you are making time for prayer and spending time reflecting on how you are feeling (scared, lonely, hopeful, trusting, abandoned, worried or something else…) and the eternal truth that God remains with you and all His beloved people. Please know that Deacon Bill, Richara, Minta, Arleen, Brandi and I are here for you if you need someone to talk with, complain to or raise you up in prayer to our Lord Jesus! Do not hesitate to call us and do not be surprised if you get a call from one of us in the days to come. We are family and must remain in support of one another through this time of crisis (call the Parish Office at 215-549-3760 to reach any of us).
Please stay healthy. Wash your hands. Cover coughs. If you are not feeling well, please call your physician (they are asking us to not go directly to the hospital without calling first). Please continue to respect the “social distancing” of staying six feet away from others and stay at home as much as possible. Continue to wipe down surfaces, door knobs, light switches with bleach water (one gallon of water and 1/3 cup of bleach). If you have concerns, please call the Hotline established by the City of Philadelphia at 1-800-722-7112. If you have questions, please find the answers.
As you likely have heard, Archbishop Perez has cancelled all the public celebration of the Mass. I know this is a cause of great heartache for us all. We love to gather and worship our Lord Jesus, we love to sing with one another and feast on the Word and Blessed Sacrament. This decision was not made lightly and has been made by most dioceses across the country, as well as other religious congregations. It is essential given the most recent measures introduced by our Governor and will assist in our limiting the spread of this virus. God wants this virus dead but needs us to do our part as well! Watch his video message to us HERE.
Our Church will be open for private prayer each day from 7am to 9am. Please enter through the ramp doors on the Rectory side of the Church. Please respect social distancing when inside the Church. I will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation Sundays from 8am to 9am in the Sacristy (making a good confession is a really good idea during a pandemic, don’t you think?). Enjoy time with the Lord. Please worship with us via Live Stream on Sunday at 10am (you will find it at www.saintraymond.net). If you do not use the internet, worship through the Holy Mass Broadcast on Channel 6 TV at 5:30am Sunday or through EWTN if you are blessed with cable. If you prefer the radio, please make use of Catholic Radio at AM 800 or AM 1570. Please do not simply “watch” or “listen”: be fully engaged in worship. Stand, sit and kneel. Sing, respond and reflect. This could be our “new normal” for many weeks. We want to develop good habits from the start. If you would like to worship at Daily Mass, EWTN makes that possible as well as Bishop Barron at www.wordonfire.org
The Catholic Call to Prayer, started a few years ago, continues to be a great resource to allow you to make a phone call and be guided in prayer. In addition to the 6:30am call Monday to Friday, we will be hosting a Call at Noon EVERY day of the week! The calls are 5 to 7 minutes long but assist you in opening up to the grace of God. We are using a new line that allows us to host up to 250 people a day. Please call TOLL FREE 1-877-309-2073 and use Access Code 319-414-445#. Please share this number widely as the Daily Call can be a tremendous vehicle of grace for many people, including those without a Church home at this time.
Our Lenten Small Groups started last week. Given the need for social distancing, the Small Groups are meeting via Video Conference or a Conference Call. We have eight groups meeting which is really amazing! If you are interested in learning more, or even joining one now that life’s circumstances have changed, contact Minta.
We want to show special care for our young people at this time. Our college students are no doubt having a hard time having to come home. Our high school and middle school students miss their friends and activities a great deal. Our younger disciples (and their parents) are struggling to adjust to learning at home. I have asked Richara to be in touch with our valued young people and find ways to connect with them and gather them virtually so that they too feel connected to God and each other as well as have their many questions about God and this virus answered. If you child has not heard from someone, please reach out to Richara.
I know that there will be many people with many needs as we move forward in this time of crisis. I have asked Arleen to be our point of contact for anyone who needs help with food (including getting meals to our school age children). I have asked Deacon Bill to be our point of contact for anyone facing financial need. We will seek to serve those from the Church Family and those who live in our immediate neighborhood. If you would like to be of assistance, please be in touch with Arleen or Deacon Bill.
As you know, we rely on the Sunday Tithe for our income. Without people gathering for Mass, that tithe will no doubt be impacted. Can you promise me (and the Lord) that you will be faithful to your tithe? Drop off (envelope slot to the right side of the Rectory’s Front Door) or mail your Church Envelopes please. Consider signing up for On-Line Giving (go to www.saintraymond.net; click on Electronic Giving under the Stewardship Banner). We are also accepting donations via the Cash App at $StRaymondPhilly. We hope to have a Venmo account lively shortly as well. Thank you!
Starting on Monday, March 23rd, we will offer Drive Thru Prayer on the driveway that passes in front of our Church’s doors from 3pm to 4pm each day. Please enter our parking lot from Williams Avenue. Stop in front of the Church. The center doors will be open and Jesus will be exposed in the Blessed Sacrament on a small altar just inside the doors. Deacon Bill or I will be available to lead you in prayer. If I am present, I will joyfully hear your confession. Deacon Bill and I will remain on the top step for social distancing. You are welcome to remain in prayer until another car arrives. I am hopeful this will be a blessing for many in our Church Family as well as our neighbors.
Moving forward, I hope to send an email blast and provide a Facebook update on things twice a week (Tuesday and Friday). Of course, I will make “announcements” at the end of Live Streamed Mass as well. Please read the Church Bulletin: you can pick one up if you visit Church for private prayer (7am to 9am each day) or find it on our website. We will email the bulletin as well. If you do not receive the email blasts from the Parish, please request that we add you by sending an email to our Office Manager Brandi (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you know of others in the Church Family who do not use email, could you call and share information with them to help keep everyone informed?
As you “pray from home”, please consider using Formed to include spiritual movies in your entertainment (www.formed.org; Parish Access Code is 8TJNV2). I also ask that you download (and use) our parish App (download “myParish” app in your store and find St. Raymond). There are many resources there to use on your smart phone or tablet.
Thank you for taking the time to read this very long letter. I am grateful for you, your goodness and your love for Saint Raymond Church. The staff and I pray for your daily, especially at our daily Video Conference at 10am. Do not face this crisis alone, the staff and I are in it with you. Your fellow Christians are in it with you. If you become sick, I promise I will be there to offer you Christ’s Sacraments. Let us rely on each other and the help of the Lord as we look forward to celebrating the Risen Christ together in our beautiful Church very soon.
Your brother in Christ,
Father Chris, Pastor
A Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion during the time in which you are unable to receive Holy Communion.
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Prayers used during Catholic Call to Prayer at Noon Every Day of the Week
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
A Litany of Saints who Persevered in Time of Plague
St. Rocco, pray for us St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us
St. Charles Borromeo, pray for us St. Marianna Cope, pray for us
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and abides in the shadow of the Almighty says to the Lord: “My refuge, and my stronghold, my God, in whom I trust!”
It is He who will free you from the snare of the fowler who seeks to destroy you; he will conceal you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that prowls in the darkness nor the scourge that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand fall at your right, you, it will never approach; His faithfulness is buckler and shield.
Your eyes have only to look to see how the wicked are repaid, you who have said: “Lord, my refuge!” and have made the Most High your dwelling.
Upon you no evil shall fall, no plague approach where you dwell. For you He has commanded His angels, to keep you in all your ways.
They shall bear you upon their hands lest you strike your foot against a stone. On the lion and the viper you will tread and trample the young lion and the dragon.
Since he clings to me in love, I will free him; protect him for he knows My name. When he calls I shall answer: “I am with you.” I will save him in distress and give him glory.
With length of life I will content him; I shall let him see my saving power.
Let us look forward with hope to gathering again at Easter to celebrate the love of God and our love for one another…