Archbishop Mulhall’s Pastoral Letter July 2019

Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Mulhall to the Faithful

of the Archdiocese of Kingston and the Diocese of Pembroke

My dear faithful of the Archdiocese and Diocese,

As I begin my final months of episcopal service in the Diocese of Pembroke and begin my ministry in the Archdiocese of Kingston, I wish to write a joint letter to you. I do this because I have been very conscious in these past weeks of the difficulty of serving the Church of both Pembroke and Kingston, attempting to be present for the important events in the life of each community. I hope to prepare a similar letter for you in the coming months before a new bishop is appointed for the Diocese of Pembroke.

On Saturday, 29 June, the Holy Father Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In recent history, this Mass has been an occasion for the presentation of the pallium, which is given to the Archbishops who have been appointed in the past year. The pallium is a liturgical band of wool worn at Mass by the Archbishop. It symbolizes the bond of unity and the participation of the Archbishop in the supreme pastoral office of the Holy Father. This pastoral office comprises the essence of the office of ordained ministry in the Church, namely, the ministry of sanctifying, teaching and governing the holy people of God.

The pastoral office of the Holy Father plays a fundamental role in our lives as Catholics. Central to our faith is the belief that the Holy Spirit continually guides the Church in all aspects of its life, including the election of Popes. In the past decades, these have been men of great holiness and ability. They have followed the will of God and wisely guided the Church on a sacred pilgrimage through the turbulent times of our modern world. We should truly give thanks to God for his blessings. Since 1960, three of these Popes have been canonized. Our more senior members of the Church will recall St. John XXIII, who convoked the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), placing his full trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The true teachings of this Council continue to guide the Church on her pilgrimage. The courage and long suffering of St. Paul VI led the Church through turbulent years of the late 1960s and early 1970s. For a brief month, we were granted the warm smile and goodness of Pope John Paul I. His early death led the way for the magnificent ministry of St. John Paul II, who set the Church on a confirmed path towards the Third Millenium. Few Popes have had such an effect upon the Church as Papa Wojtyla. His determination to plumb the depths of the Council’s pronouncements has given to the Church a body of teaching which addresses the most pressing issues of our present age. Pope Benedict XVI served the Church with a deep humility and powerful insight into the mysteries of our faith. His homilies and teachings will be a gift to the Church for centuries. In Pope Francis, the Lord has prepared a pastor who has challenged the Church to go out into the world with renewed confidence, knowing that the groundwork of teaching and reflection is available for us to speak the truth. His beautiful teaching on marriage and human love is found in the document Amoris laetitia (The Joy of Love, 2016). This teaching presents to the Church the invitation to convert its missionary glance towards humanity and to see through the eyes of the loving Saviour. This conversion, I pray, will allow the Church to speak the fullness of the Gospel’s truth to all generations in today’s world. As the Church goes out with confidence into the world, may her priests and faithful accompany in charity and truth those who in any way are distant from the true teachings of Christ. May the grace of this discernment awaken in the hearts of all humanity the beauty and joy of the Gospel, a true understanding of the human person and the rich expression of human sexuality in marriage.

Each of these pastors has played a providential and complementary role in the living teaching office of the Church, a magisterium which serves the truth of the Gospel of Jesus, and continuously discerns the unique needs of our “today”. The needs of this “today” have been marked by a divide between the truth of God’s plan for the true happiness of his people and a world which at times becomes intoxicated with its own power and technological prowess. This divide has deeply affected humanity’s relationship with the Divine. The remarkable technological development of the past century has introduced a fundamental question for humanity! “Just because I am able to do something, does this mean that it is ethically good to do it?” Humanity’s struggle to properly address this question over the past century has led to the continued possibility of nuclear destruction, the fragility of the environment, the resort to war and violence, and the loss of respect for human dignity. Fifty-one years ago, St. Paul VI addressed this very question as humanity had developed an intrusive method to regulate the transmission of life. The teachings of Humanae vitae (Of Human Love, 1968) addressed the very core of this divide between technological development and the truth regarding human sexuality. The profound teachings of St. John Paul II confirmed this teaching. His writings and preaching provided for the Church an attractive teaching on the dignity of human sexuality and marriage, while at the same time identifying the danger of a false sense of liberty which led humanity away from God. This teaching has borne enormous fruit. However, the divide has continued to grow in the Western world, and the grave effects of the loss of the sense of the Divine in people’s lives has become more pronounced.  In this context, the message of accompanying charity in truth, as proposed by Pope Francis, needs greater and greater development in our pastoral approach.

This model presented by the Holy Father asks a great deal. It can be an enormous challenge for us to strike out “into the deep”, that is, into the world, and to learn the new and vital lessons of evangelical presence. It asks that each of us develop our understanding and acceptance of the truth of Christ’s gospel, while at the same time developing skills that allow us to accompany, listen and discern with those who differ from the beliefs of the Church in any way. Accompaniment is not a compromise to find a common agreement, nor is it an excuse to dissent from the teachings of Christ’s Church. One who accompanies must be committed to one’s faith. A growth in this charism to accompany is the fruit of prayer. In prayer, Jesus allows us to appreciate the sin of our lives and, at the same time, he consoles us through his mercy. The Christian who experiences the presence and accompaniment of Jesus in prayer becomes equipped, through God’s grace, to accompany properly, listen to, and discern with others the joys and challenges of our common earthly pilgrimage. There is no shortcut in this grace-filled charism.

The story of the “Road to Emmaus” in the Gospel of Luke is an attractive example of the Risen Lord’s lesson for the Church (Luke 24.13-35). Christ’s example is to accompany, listen and discern with unbelieving disciples and, through his presence and explanation of the Scriptures, to bring these disciples to belief.  I invite each of us to reflect upon this beautiful passage and to allow the Holy Spirit to form our hearts in likeness to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In this context, I am deeply thankful to the priests, religious and, above all, the married couples who have lived this vital charism highlighted by Pope Francis. I call to mind the special programs regarding the danger of euthanasia, the patient ministry of sacramental catechesis, the marriage preparation programs and the introduction of this teaching in our High Schools. I am also thankful for the cooperation of the Renfrew County Catholic School Board in making this program available.

It will be a joy for me to grow in my knowledge and appreciation of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Kingston in the coming months. I look forward to my individual meetings with the priests of the Archdiocese of Kingston, so that we can reflect together upon the challenges of priestly and pastoral ministry today, identify the needs and future initiatives for a better ministry to the faithful. I know that I will come to know of the many generous examples in the Archdiocese of Kingston of a deep appreciation of this invitation of Pope Francis.

My dear faithful, let us keep one another in our prayers in these coming months.

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.