As we begin Holy Week, Monsignor Rupert has released the following message.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently. -Romans 8:24-25
My dear friends,
By the time you read this message, you may have already enjoyed the Palm Sunday liturgy celebrated by Bishop Bambera at the Cathedral or from the parish church you call home. Regardless, the holiest week on our liturgical calendar is upon us and it calls us to focus our thoughts and prayers on the passion and resurrection of our Lord. Over the past few days, you may have read or watched messages published by our Holy Father Pope Francis and by Bishop Bambera addressing this most holy week. Our Holy Father spoke of the 'creativity of love' and encouraged the faithful to phone or reach out via social media to those most vulnerable in their families and their neighborhoods. He stated that, "Despite the isolation imposed by social distancing measures, “thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love”" Today, I write to you from a different perspective. I write to you about hope. On November 2, 2019, some time before the word pandemic was a part of our daily vocabulary, the Cathedral published the picture below in support of the Leave a Mark Mass sponsored by the Vocations Office of the Diocese of Scranton. It is an image of your Cathedral taken from the Cathedra, or bishop's chair. It is from a perspective very few of you have ever experienced personally. It is a perspective that Bishop Bambera enjoys each time he celebrates the Mass. It is a perspective of hope. Sadly, over these past three weeks, that is the image that I and my brother priests see when celebrating Mass at the Cathedral or at virtually any church across the world. It is a jarring image of empty pews. The celebration of Mass is normally a public act by its very definition. It is the gathering of the people of God to celebrate the Eucharistic banquet, the "source and summit of the Christian life." In these times of uncertainty, we unite with one another virtually across social media or by television for the celebration of Mass. This week, we are called upon to continue this unfamiliar practice. Holy Week is a week filled with solemn celebrations which present to us the greatest tragedy and sorrow of the year - the crucifixion, death, and burial of Lord; yet, at the same time, Holy Week fills us with hope. The hope of the resurrection. The message that accompanied the picture of the empty pews back in November stated that the "Cathedral stands ready and waiting to welcome you with eager anticipation." It was written in a time of hope, for that the following day Bishop Bambera would welcome the young church of our diocese to the Cathedral to enliven within them the vocational spirit in service of God's people. Many things in our world may have changed since that picture was published. Two things have not. The message I convey to you today is written in a time of hope. It is written in the hope of the resurrection. There will soon be a day when we take a new picture. It will be a picture of pews filled with the light of Christ. The light that each of you continues to carry in spite of the solitude which surrounds us. Until that time, I pray that you will unite spiritually with the faithful of the Church of Scranton and with the Universal Church as we marvel at our crucified Lord. Our hope. With every blessing,
Monsignor Dale R. Rupert