An Urgent Request- Day of Fasting & Prayer - 3 April 2020
My Dear Brothers and Sisters:
In a recent conversation, a woman said to me, “Bishop, amidst this pandemic and all the awful things happening in our world, I am finding this to be the best Lent I have ever experienced. My life has been slowed down. I have time to focus on prayer and in fact, I am praying more, thanks to the various devotions, Mass, Stations, Morning Prayer, etc., that have become so readily available through social media. My family is communicating more, we don’t rush out the door to our next hurried event and we are sharing meals together regularly.” These words from a faithful Catholic woman reminded me of the words written in the verses from the prophet Joel:
“Yet even now—oracle of the LORD— return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God, For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment.” (2:12-13)
As we face the painful difficulty of experiencing the holy longing that suspended Masses and church buildings being closed brings, I invite us to turn more intently and deeply toward Christ. I ask that you join myself, and the priests and religious of the Diocese of Fairbanks, in a Day of Fasting and Prayer on Friday, April 3, to ask for the grace to draw closer to Christ and in praying for an end to this pandemic. I ask you to follow the guidelines for a day of fasting just as we would on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Also, I highly encourage you to set aside family time to pray in an intentional way: The Stations of the Cross, The Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe to End the Pandemic, The Holy Rosary, or any other devotions and various litanies. St. John Paul II, wrote in his document, “The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World”, this reminder regarding the importance of prayer and the family:
“The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the Domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer.” (§59)
I want to personally share with each of you that I truly agonize over the fact you are not able to be physically present at Mass. Your parish priests feel the same way; they miss you and the fullness your participation at Mass brings. However, I urge you with a mighty and steadfast faith to know for certain, that during our daily Masses, when we say, “Pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to God the Almighty Father,” this includes your sacrifices--anything and everything that is within you. We sincerely offer every wound, trauma, anger, hatred, rejoicing, thanksgiving, worry and concern that lives within you and we place them on the altar as your personal sacrifice. Christ’s Sacrifice, in the Mass, transcends space and time. This is why we pray in the Eucharistic prayer, “In your compassion, O merciful Father, gather to yourself all your children scattered throughout the world.” No matter where we are scattered through the world, we experience the fruitful effects of the One Eternal Sacrifice.
I thank you and your family for participating in prayer and fasting as we draw more closely united in heart and mind as the Mystical Body of Christ, while asking Jesus the Divine Physician, to heal our world of this horrific pandemic. May the words of Ps 51:12 be ever on our lips in prayer: “A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.”
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks
Adoration: The tabernacle in the Chancery Chapel has been placed in the window with a light on it to be adored from the Chancery Building parking lot 24/7. The Chancery is located at 1316 Peger Road, Fairbanks, Ak.
Daily Exposition: The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed at 6-7pm everyday with a guided Holy Hour to be Facebook live streamed on Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks Facebook Page. The monstrance will be placed in the window of the Chancery Chapel to be viewed from the parking lot. People can gather in their vehicle observing physical distancing protocols.
Saturday Exposition, Eucharistic procession and Benediciton: The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in the monstrance from the Chancery Chapel to be viewed in the parking lot from 1-4 PM. At the conclusion of the adoration, there will be a Eucharistic procession of just the priest and server through the parking lot (please remain in your vehicles). Priest will be available for confessions outside in such a way to maintain a 6 foot distance.
Confessions: If anyone desires confession, please contact your parish and ask for a priest.
Speaking with a priest: If anyone is need of speaking with a priest, please contact your parish.
If you are concerned that you are unable to receive absolution by not going to confession during the pandamic, the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, has published a resource for bishops, THE CARE OF SOULS AND THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS DURING THIS PANDEMIC.
Bishop Chad Zielinski would like to share the following with you from the document:
“Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).”
• perfect contrition requires • the love of God • the sincere desire for forgiveness • the ardent commitment to receive the sacrament of reconciliation when available
This is reaffirmed in Pope Francis's homily on March 20, 2020:
“I know that many of you go to confession before Easter… Many will say to me: ‘But Father…I can't leave the house and I want to make my peace with the Lord. I want Him to embrace me… How can I do that unless I find a priest?’. Do what the catechism says. It's very clear. If you don't find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He's your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God's grace immediately. You yourself can draw near, as the catechism teaches us, to God's forgiveness,s without having a priest at hand.”
CCC, no. 1452: When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.
There are a variety of different Acts of Contrition suggested in the Rite of Penance. Here are a few of them.
Act of Contrition (traditional)
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.
Act of Contrition (alternate form) My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
An Act of Contrition inspired by the Gospels Father of mercy, like the prodigal son I return to you and say: "I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your child." Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, I pray with the repentant thief to whom you promised Paradise: "Lord, remember me in your kingdom." Holy Spirit, fountain of love, I call on you with trust: "Purify my heart, and help me to walk as a child of light."
An Act of Contrition inspired by the Gospels Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, forgave the sinful woman, and after Peter's denial confirmed him in your love. Listen to my prayer: forgive all my sins, renew your love in my heart, help me to live in perfect unity with my fellow Christians that I may proclaim your saving power to all the world.
An Act of Contrition to Our Lord Jesus Lord Jesus, you chose to be called the friend of sinners. By your saving death and resurrection free me from my sins. May your peace take root in my heart and bring forth a harvest of love, holiness, and truth.
An Act of Contrition to Jesus, the Lamb of God Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God; you take away the sins of the world. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit restore me to friendship with your Father, cleanse me from every stain of sin in the blood you shed for me, and raise me to new life for the glory of your name.
An Act of Contrition inspired by Psalm 51 Lord God, in your goodness have mercy on me: do not look on my sins, but take away all my guilt. Create in me a clean heart and renew within me an upright spirit.
The Jesus Prayer Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Coronavirus Update #2, Extended Suspension of Mass and Public Gatherings
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
As the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic increases across the USA and various parts of the world, I am reminded of the Lord’s words in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” As a Church and individual families, with greater prayer and fervor we turn to Christ as a source of strength amidst challenge, confusion and difficulty.
On March 17, 2020 (PN BCZ 20/06), I issued a decree to suspend public celebration of Masses and all Church gatherings. It came with extreme anguish of heart, mind and soul. I have repeatedly preached about the gift of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to have to suspend the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass comes with great difficulty. I and the priests have shared the thirst we have for the smiling faces and prayerful responses of the faithful at Mass to return very soon.
Given the current mandates by Governor Dunleavy due to the increase of COVID-19 throughout the State of Alaska, all schools will be closed until May 1. In keeping with this decision and that of all the Region XII bishops, the following will be effective immediately until May 1 for the Diocese of Fairbanks:
• The suspension of public Masses and all other gatherings. Please pray that public gatherings will resume soon as it is safe to do so. • All remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. We are reminded to “keep holy the Lord’s Day.” • Priests will continue to offer daily private Mass and are encourage to livestream when possible. • The public celebration of Holy Week liturgies are suspended. These liturgies will be live-streamed from the Cathedral and those parishes that have the capability. • For those to be baptized and receive Full Communion into the Church at the Easter Vigil will be postponed until public Masses are resumed. Each parish will determine the time and date. • First Holy Communion and Confirmations are postponed until after public Masses resume.
I realize this is extremely disappointing and I ask that the sacrifices that all make be united to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. Please pray for our health care workers, supermarket employees and countless individuals who daily expose themselves to the threat of the Coronavirus to provide essential services.
Parishes are encouraged to open their church buildings for individual prayer, adoration, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and confessions while maintaining physical distancing and other precautionary measures that health officials have recommended to minimize the threat.
I ask that you join me in prayer asking Our Lady of Guadalupe to intercede for us during this pandemic. Be assured that all of you are in my daily rosary and Mass intentions. May our hunger for the Eucharist and other Sacraments be a source of grace to strengthen our faith.
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks
Together in Christ: CNS Responds to the Coronavirus At a time when society is reeling from the Coronavirus pandemic, the Church and its media – print, web, social, radio and television – are helping its people face this unprecedented challenge. The Holy Father together with the Bishops are calmly taking the necessary steps to prevent the contagion’s spread while at the same time bolstering spirits and praying for those who are most in need of care.
Catholic News Service is covering all aspects of the crisis, and we will continue to do so for as long as needed. What follows are a selection of stories from this week meant to inform, inspire and reassure. https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/25/ethicists-lawyers-see-dangers-in-rationing-of-scarce-health-resources/ Catholic ethicists warn that “Decisions regarding the critical care of patients during the current crisis must not discriminate on the basis of disability or age.”
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/25/vatican-asks-bishops-to-help-faithful-celebrate-holy-week-easter-at-home/ The Vatican has asked Catholic bishops around the world to provide their faithful with resources to support personal and family prayer during Holy Week and at Easter.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/25/gospel-of-life-needed-now-more-than-ever-pope-says/ Defending life is not an abstract concept but a duty for all Christians and it means protecting the unborn, the poor, the sick, the unemployed and migrants, Pope Francis said.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/24/religious-find-inventive-techniques-of-caring-for-community-in-isolation/ As people self-isolate and retreat from daily life amid the COVID-19 pandemic, priests and women religious have become beacons of hope globally as they mobilize in unconventional ways.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/23/every-man-for-himself-is-not-a-solution-to-pandemic-pope-says/ As more and more countries start to feel the economic pinch due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis urged business leaders to seek solutions that will not hurt employees and their families.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/20/if-you-cant-go-to-confession-take-your-sorrow-directly-to-god-pope-says/ People who cannot get to confession because of the coronavirus lockdown or another serious reason can go to God directly, be specific about their sins, request pardon and experience God’s loving forgiveness, Pope Francis said.