DARIEN—Pastors from all over the diocese are issuing letters and reflections to their faithful in this time of trial. One pastor, Father Frank Hoffmann of St. John Parish in Darien, issued the following letter to his parishioners!
Dear Parishioners of St. John Church,
How do I start this letter except to say that just a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have imagined writing it? We all knew that this virus was spreading and had disrupted the life of a number of countries, but part of us didn’t really think that it could happen here.
Now we are in a once in a lifetime trial that is made more difficult because there seems no way to be sure when it might be over. But what is especially difficult about this virus is that the main way we can combat it and stay safe is to withdraw from one another and not do one of the things that we most love, enjoy the company of friends and families. As much as they can be sources of bad things to a degree, thank the Lord for the internet and our phones and their ability to connect us without endangering our health and the health of those with whom we come in contact.
I have been trying to think of some Scripture that sums up how many of us might feel at this time and the reading below from Lamentations came to mind. While I am not sure all of us feel quite the degree of sadness that the writer expresses, it does put into words the reality of feeling what might seem like God’s absence, coupled with a profound faith in what is true, in spite of what we might feel.
Lamentations 3:17-26 My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; I tell myself my future is lost, all that I hoped for from the LORD. The thought of my homeless poverty is wormwood and gall; Remembering it over and over leaves my soul downcast within me. But I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the LORD, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Good is the LORD to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the LORD.
I believe that our faith in the love and mercy of the Lord is what gives us reason to hope and will be able to sustain us in this difficult time. On a more practical note, one thing that I notice looking out the window in my office, a lot of people are exercising outdoors, running, walking and biking, more than I have ever seen before. Part of this is motivated, I think, by the desire to do something and physical activity seems like a good way to avoid the four walls of our homes closing in. But a big part of it is because we have a lot of time on our hands, time not spent getting to and from work, running the kids from one sport or activity and the like. We need things to do; we are not accustomed to having time on our hands.
Perhaps one good that can come out of this is an ability to develop the simple resting in the Lord that we call prayer. Many of us make a resolution or two about how we will spend Lent and often find ourselves losing track of them as the days go by. Perhaps we can use that extra time we have now to find ways of growing closer to the Lord. We have listed a number of resources on our parish website (www.stjohndarien.com) and our new Facebook page (Saint John Church Darien) and there are many places on the internet that can help. And I like to remind you that every day at 10 am you can watch Mass live on our parish Facebook page. I have also attached an email from Hallow, a wonderful online/app prayer resource at the end of this letter. I use it daily myself. They even have a series of prayers called the “Stuck at Home Prayer List”!
I would also like to remind you that if you or someone you know needs assistance in the way of running errands or picking up groceries, please let me know. There is a small group of volunteers in the parish who are willing to help. While the office staff is working from home, please know that they are checking their voicemail regularly during the week and getting back to people as needed.
The rectory number is 203-655-1145. Here is a list of extensions: Rose, parish secretary 10 Michelle, business manager 11 Fr. Chris Perrella 23 Fr. Frank Hoffmann 24 I will continue to be in touch with you as our time in “exile” continues and look forward to seeing you in person when this is all over. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if there is anything you need.
In the Lord,
Fr. Frank Hoffmann