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March 28, 2020 - Bishop's Message in preparation for Holy Week

This past week we celebrated the beautiful Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The gospel text from Luke’s infancy narrative reminded us of the saving mystery of the Incarnation. Through the generous, trusting response of Mary of Nazareth, the Divine Word became flesh, taking on our human nature. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary, is true God and true man. He is Emmanuel, “God-with-us.”

The mystery of the Incarnation is not a singular event. With the Annunciation God enters into human history in an irrevocable way. He eternally embraced our humanity. Through baptism we participate in the Incarnation. Jesus took on our human nature so that we could share in His divine nature. The baptism we have received is also the sacrament we are called to live. Because of our baptism, our life in Christ should radiate in all we say and do. This is fundamental to authentic Christian living. It should be renewed and enlivened during these sacred days of Lent as we draw near to Holy Week and the celebration of the Paschal Triduum.

The alarming and ever mounting outbreak of the Coronavirus has paralyzed the social and economic vitality of the State of California, the Nation, and many parts of the world. Cooperating with efforts to control the outbreak of the virus and protect many of our vulnerable brothers and sisters, the Catholic Church in Sacramento has suspended all of the traditional public customs and rituals of these sacred days. Remember: Lent is not suspended. Holy Week, the Paschal Triduum, and Easter will come. The change in our usual manner of marking the days of the Lord’s death and resurrection should stir us to re-examine our heart and seek more intently to follow where the Lord Jesus will lead us in this way of the cross for 2020.

When each of us was baptized, we were immersed into the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This extraordinary grace binds us to the Lord. As St. Paul told us in his letter to the Romans, “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” The sacramental dynamic of the Lord’s death and resurrection is lived out by each of His disciples in the manner that each of us more closely embraces the newness of life found in Jesus.

The current circumstances have shaken us from our usual rhythms. We are unable to gather near to the Eucharistic table of the Lord. Still, through the grace of our baptism we can draw near to Jesus and through him enter into the mystical union of the one Body of Christ. Our sufferings, our sacrifices, offer us the means of entering into communion with Christ. Paul told us in his letter to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” Let us pray that these words of Paul may find a place in our own hearts.

Growing numbers of our neighbors find themselves infected with the coronavirus. The numbers of those dying from this plague are mounting. Many friends and relatives have lost their jobs. Many of you are staying home because of your children, relatives who need you, and you cannot work. Loneliness and isolation weary and worry an escalating portion of our communities. Each day the future seems cloudier. The courageous perseverance of health care workers, first-responders, grocery store clerks, and others inspire us while their vulnerability in the exercise of their daily duties remind us how vulnerable we have all become.

The baptized are charged to make the Incarnation alive in these circumstances. We are the witnesses of Emmanuel, God-is-with-us. Our personal testimony should make Christ present for others. Pope Benedict taught that no Eucharist is complete without concrete acts of charity. This means that every act of charity offered with faith in the Lord Jesus is intimately connected with the Eucharist for which we so hunger. May that hunger give us a desire to offer our sacrifices and works of charity so that we may savor its grace in our hearts and through us the Eucharist may reach others.

I am grateful to my brother priests who make themselves available to hear confessions, always observing health precautions while protecting the seal of confession. For those who are unable to approach the sacrament of Penance, remember that you can make a perfect act of contrition with a firm resolve to confess your sins as soon as you are able. This act of perfect contrition does offer God’s abundant mercy and the forgiveness of sins. More guidance is available on the diocesan as well as parish websites.

My brother priests, Bishop Weigand and I daily offer Mass for all the People of God in the Diocese of Sacramento. Join with me in praying for God’s mercy to end this pandemic, heal all those afflicted, sustain all those who care for the afflicted. May all the deceased receive God’s mercy. May all those who mourn be consoled by the Lord’s tenderness.

Let us pray

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus.
Amen.


Mensaje del Obispo en preparación para la Semana Santa

La semana pasada celebramos la hermosa solemnidad de la Anunciación del Señor, el 25 de marzo. El texto del evangelio de la narrativa de Lucas nos recordó el misterio salvador de la Encarnación. A través de la respuesta generosa y confiada de María de Nazaret, la Palabra Divina se hizo carne, asumiendo nuestra naturaleza humana. Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios y el Hijo de María, es Dios verdadero y hombre verdadero. Él es Emmanuel, "Dios con nosotros".

El misterio de la Encarnación no es un evento singular. Con la Anunciación, Dios entra en la historia humana de manera irrevocable. Eternamente se abrazó a nuestra humanidad. A través del bautismo participamos en la Encarnación. Jesús asumió nuestra naturaleza humana para que pudiéramos compartir su naturaleza divina. El bautismo que hemos recibido nos obliga a vivir como un sacramento de Cristo en el mundo. Debido a nuestro bautismo, nuestra vida en Cristo debe iluminar todo lo que decimos y hacemos. Esto es fundamental para la auténtica vida cristiana. La gracia de nuestro bautismo debería renovarse y animarse durante estos días sagrados de Cuaresma mientras vayamos acercándonos a la Semana Santa y la celebración del Triduo Pascual.

La alarmante y expandiendo pandemia del Coronavirus ha paralizado la vitalidad social y económica del Estado de California, la Nación y muchas partes del mundo. Cooperando con los esfuerzos para controlar la pandemia del virus y proteger a muchos de nuestros vecinos vulnerables, la Iglesia Católica en Sacramento ha suspendido todas las tradicionales costumbres y rituales públicos de estos días sagrados. Pero recuerden: la Cuaresma no está suspendida. La Semana Santa, el Triduo Pascual y la Pascua del Señor vendrán. El cambio en nuestra forma habitual de marcar los días de la muerte y resurrección del Señor nos animarán a reexaminar nuestro corazón y buscar con mayor atención a dónde nos llevará el Señor Jesús en este camino de la cruz para 2020.

Cuando cada uno de nosotros fue bautizado, fuimos sumergidos en la muerte y resurrección del Señor Jesús. Esta gracia extraordinaria nos une al Señor. Como San Pablo nos dijo en su carta a los romanos: “Por este bautismo en su muerte fuimos sepultados con Cristo, y así como Cristo fue resucitado de entre los muertos por la Gloria del Padre, así también nosotros empezamos una vida nueva." (Rom. 6.4) La dinámica sacramental de la muerte y resurrección del Señor será realizada por cada uno de Sus discípulos de la manera en que cada uno de nosotros acoja más cerca la novedad de la vida revelada por Jesús.

Las circunstancias actuales nos han sacudido de nuestros ritmos habituales. No podemos reunirnos en torno a la mesa eucarística del Señor. Aún así, por la gracia de nuestro bautismo estamos ya íntimamente incorporados a Jesús y a través de él gozamos de la unión mística del Cuerpo de Cristo. Nuestros sufrimientos, nuestros sacrificios, nos ofrecen los medios para entrar en comunión con Cristo. Pablo nos dijo en su carta a los colosenses: " " Ahora me alegro cuando tengo que sufrir por ustedes, pues así completo en mi carne lo que falta a los sufrimientos de Cristo para bien de su cuerpo, que es la Iglesia." (Col. 1.24) ". Oremos para que estas palabras de Pablo encuentren un lugar en nuestros propios corazones.

Un número creciente de nuestros vecinos se encuentran infectados con el coronavirus. El número de personas que mueren por esta plaga está aumentando. Muchos amigos y familiares han perdido sus trabajos. Muchos de ustedes se han quedado en casa debido a sus hijos, parientes que los necesitan y no pueden trabajar. La soledad y el aislamiento cansan y preocupan a una mayor parte de nuestras comunidades. Cada día el futuro parece más nublado. La valiente perseverancia de los trabajadores de la salud, bomberos, policía, los empleados de los mercados y otros nos inspiran, mientras que su vulnerabilidad en el desempeño de sus tareas diarias nos recuerdan lo vulnerables que somos todos.

Los bautizados están encargados de dar vida a la Encarnación en todas estas circunstancias. Somos los testigos de Emmanuel, Dios-está-con-nosotros. Que nuestro testimonio personal haga presente la persona de Cristo para con los demás. El Papa Benedicto XVI nos enseñó que ninguna Eucaristía está completa sin actos concretos de caridad. Esto significa que cada acto de caridad ofrecido con fe en el Señor Jesús está profundamente conectado con la Eucaristía por la que tanto ansiamos. Que esa hambre nos dé el deseo de ofrecer nuestros sacrificios y obras de caridad para que podamos saborear su gracia en nuestros corazones y por medio de nosotros la Eucaristía pueda alcanzar a otros.

Agradezco a mis hermanos sacerdotes que se ponen a su disposición para escuchar confesiones, siempre observando precauciones de salud mientras protegen el sello de la confesión. Para aquellos que no pueden acercarse al sacramento de la Penitencia, recuerden que pueden hacer un acto perfecto de contrición con la firme resolución de confesar sus pecados tan pronto como puedan. Este acto de perfecta contrición ofrece la abundante misericordia de Dios y el perdón de los pecados. Hay más información disponible sobre este tema en los sitios web diocesanos y parroquiales.

Mis hermanos sacerdotes, el Mons. Weigand y yo ofrecemos diariamente el sacrificio de la misa para todo el pueblo de Dios en la diócesis de Sacramento. Únase a mí para orar por la misericordia de Dios para poner fin a esta pandemia, sanar a todos los afligidos, sostener a todos los que cuidan de los afligidos. Que todos los difuntos reciban la misericordia de Dios. Que todos los que lloran sean consolados por la ternura del Señor.

Oremos

Santa Virgen de Guadalupe,
Reina de los ángeles y Madre de las Américas,
Acudimos a ti hoy como tus amados hijos.
Te pedimos intercedas por nosotros ante tu Hijo,
así como lo hiciste en las Bodas de Caná.

Ora por nosotros, amorosa Madre,
y obtén para nuestra nación y para el mundo,
y para todas nuestras familias y nuestros seres queridos,
la protección de tus santos ángeles,
que seamos librados de lo peor de esta enfermedad.

Para aquellos que ya están afligidos,
te pedimos que obtengas la gracia de la sanación.
Escucha el lamento de quienes están vulnerables y temerosos,
limpia sus lágrimas y ayúdales a confiar.

En este tiempo de prueba,
enséñanos a todos en la Iglesia a amarnos unos a otros y a ser pacientes y amables.

Ayúdanos a traer la paz de Jesús a nuestra tierra y a nuestros corazones.
Venimos a ti con confianza, sabiendo que tú eres realmente nuestra madre compasiva,
la sanación de los enfermos y la causa de nuestra alegría.

Danos albergue bajo el manto de tu protección, mantennos bajo tu abrazo,
ayúdanos siempre a conocer el amor de tu Hijo, Jesús.
Amén.


Quick Links: Pastoral Message | Decree
Español: Mensaje Pastoral | Decreto

March 17, 2020 Pastoral Message

My Dear Friends in Christ:

The Lord God has awakened us to conversion during this Lenten Season as we more closely unite ourselves with our neighbors in California and around the world responding to the alarming pandemic of the Coronavirus, COVID-19.

The decision to suspend public celebrations of the Mass, along with the other necessary public health precautions, does not suspend the evangelical urgency of repentance and renewal during this Lenten Season. We are particularly called to give witness to personal repentance and renewal for the sake of our own salvation and the redemption of the world.

The outbreak has disrupted some of the habitual Lenten approaches and attitudes forcing us to re-examine our individual and ecclesial disposition to this Sacred Season.  Our common baptism is a share in the royal priesthood of the Lord Jesus.  St. Paul reminds all the baptized in his letter to the Colossians: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1.24) Though the public celebration of Mass is suspended, all the disciples of the Lord Jesus need “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” (Rom. 12.1) These words of Pauline wisdom should direct our personal and pastoral conduct during this difficult public health emergency so that the Lord’s healing mercy may continue to bear fruit in our personal lives and the life of the Church in Sacramento.

This public health emergency should make us reconsider the kind of prayer, fasting, abstinence, and charity needed for ourselves as well as the Church.  God’s mysterious providence is working in the midst of the confusion among political leaders and public health officials.  Though this moment may not be how we imagine Lent, heed the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  (II Cor. 6.2) Let us practice the evangelical qualities of patience, prudence, gratitude, and joy.  Pray that the Lord may grant us the clarity of faith to see the wise and merciful hands of the divine potter tenderly molding us into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus.

May our Blessed Mother Mary stand together with us in the shadow of her Son’s cross so that we might come to know the joy of His glorious resurrection.  May her tender intercession bring healing to all who are afflicted, eternal rest to those who have died, and comfort to all those who mourn. May her maternal affection cause us not to lose hope but to hunger more deeply for the Bread of Life and thirst more longingly for the Chalice of Salvation.

Respectfully,

+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento


March 17, 2020 Decree

DECREE

With a heavy heart, conscious of the accelerating rates of coronavirus infection, also known as COVID-19, I am suspending the public celebration of Sunday and weekday Masses for the Diocese of Sacramento in California until further notice.

This pastoral directive cooperates with the increased public health precautions issued by local, state, and federal officials in order to protect vulnerable populations from contact with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

As with the previous pastoral decrees issued on March 11, 2020 and March 13, 2020, this decree is especially intended to benefit those members of the Faithful who are sixty years of age and older as well as those with vulnerable health conditions.

The dispensation to all members of the Catholic Faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday will also continue until further notice.

Parish churches will maintain the regular hours, especially on Sundays, to be open for private prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Priests are to privately offer Sunday Mass pro populo (for the people) and encouraged to daily offer Mass imploring the Lord’s mercy.

Priests are to provide scheduled times for individual confessions.  Where possible the schedule should be expanded.  Priests should continue the laudable tradition of being available for confession and the anointing of the sick upon request.

Weddings and Funerals may be provided but should be limited to immediate family.

Further directives and guidance will be provided to priests and deacons for the prudent and practical celebration of sacraments during this public health emergency.

It is recommended that Communal Baptisms be suspended until further notice.  Pastors should exercise prudential judgment regarding individual pastoral cases.

I remind the Catholic Faithful to properly observe the third commandment, Keep Holy the Lord’s Day.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:  On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest.” (CCC, 2185)

I encourage the faithful to offer a rosary on Sundays for the intention of all those afflicted by the virus, COVID-19 as well as for the sanctification of the Faithful and Clergy during this Lenten Season.  I recommend a family recitation of the rosary as a healthy and holy practice during Lent as well as throughout the year.

All the Faithful should seek with greater intention to consecrate Sunday, the Lord’s Day, with prayer and attention given to building up the family.  Other pastoral and spiritual resources will be made available to assist in keeping holy Sunday, the Lord’s Day.  Please refer to the Diocesan website, the local parish website, or make use of My Parish app.

I instruct the pastors of parishes in the Diocese to educate the faithful about this directive as well as other public health precautions to be observed in their parishes at this time.

Please pray for those afflicted with COVID-19, their families, and all caregivers. May the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary bring us the healing mercy and grace of her Son, Jesus.

Given at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Sacramento on this seventeenth day of March, in the year of the Our Lord, two thousand twenty.

+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento


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