The Gospel tells us today, “While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Immediately the despair of the two disciples on that road to Emmaus turned to joy; their despondency turned to elation and they rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples of their encounter with the risen Lord.
Of course, we can all identify with these two disciples who had their dreams dashed and who felt overwhelmed with disappointment. And in our times with this terrible pandemic, we need something to bring us out of our gloom. These times may be leaving us with a weakened faith—even trusting in God’s plan for us! Normally we would flock to this church desiring to be fed in Word and Sacrament. Why? Because Jesus is made known to us in the breaking of the bread. But, of course, at least at this time we cannot gather for the Eucharist. You are watching and praying the Mass on our web site. No, it is not the same as being here physically and we pray that soon it will be safe enough for hundreds of us to worship together. But for now, let us remember that we can make a beautiful Spiritual Communion. I never realized how important this was until now!
Our Act of Spiritual Communion should express our faith in Christ and in His presence in the Holy Eucharist, and in asking Jesus to unite himself with us. You may wish to use this beautiful prayer often during the day: “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.”
As you know, having reached the age of retirement as pastor, I will be stepping down on July 1st. Even though I knew that the time would come, I must say it has not been easy. I will miss you terribly. However, I will not be far from you. I have been assigned to our new Franciscan Formation House in San Diego to minister to our friar students in their Franciscan journey and ordination. Our friary will be the former convent in St. Vincent’s Parish. And so, I do hope that I will see you from time to time. Can’t wait to check out some new Italian restaurants in “Little Italy!”
I also joyfully announce to you that our new pastor will be Fr. Oscar Mendez—our present associate pastor! He will also be assisted by other friars who have not as yet been named. Fr. Oscar has great gifts and an untiring spirit. Please welcome him with open arms!
And so, as I close, I once more ask us all to be vigilant; we cannot let our guard down! COVID-19’s power will be crushed, but it is going to take time. We must listen to the directives of the medical professionals and those government officials who are following their scientific and relevant guidance. And let us continue to keep in our prayers all those suffering the loss of loved ones, jobs, and health. We will get through this. Amen.
Love, Fr. Vince