An Encouraging Letter from Fr. John David 

March 19, 2020 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

I am sitting in my parish office on a beautiful Spring morning. With my windows open, I can hear birds chirping, and someone in the neighborhood is mowing the lawn. People walk or jog up and down Sheppard Street. It's wonderfully quiet. There's no indication at all that anything is amiss. And yet daily life has changed pretty dramatically for nearly everyone on the planet, because of a tiny organism a friend of mine calls the spike-ball devil. 

While the potential for illness is certainly real, I suspect that the greater reality for many of us is fear: fear of Covid19, fear for our families and friends, fear about income and how long all this might last. Our comforting daily routines have been interrupted, and the openended nature of the current situation is a bit unnerving: when will we get back to normal? 

Whatever our fears these days, it is good to name them, out loud. And then, having named them, to offer them to Jesus, the one who reminds us to "be not afraid," and let him give us the peace that he alone can give. He willingly and mercifully bears all of our burdens, particularly, in these days, our fears. 

Among the privations, the most difficult for us as Catholic Christians is not being able to go to Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. Each day I celebrate a private Mass in our very quiet and very empty church, and each one of you is in my heart and on my mind as I offer the Holy Sacrifice. I feel very close to each of you in those moments, because no matter what, we are all bound together as the one Body of Christ, unified in the Eucharist, and so in a very real way united with each other even when we are not physically gathered. I take great comfort in knowing that we are always together in our Lord. 

As you know, our parish church is open most of the day every day, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available at set times Tuesday through Saturday. Please come spend some time with our Lord. We have an array of prayer aids available as you enter, most particularly, a guide to spiritual communion. Spiritual communion is the practice of praying for Eucharistic union with the Lord when we are not able to receive the Eucharist itself. 

During this time, I encourage each of you to set aside specific times of prayer each day. I particularly encourage praying Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours (https://www.ibreviary.org/en/ ), praying the Rosary, and contemplating a Crucifix or a favorite image of Jesus or Mary. If you do not have one, this is a great time to set up a home altar: a table with a cloth, candles, a crucifix or icon, and your favorite books of prayer or holy cards. Having a place set aside for prayer in the home is always a good idea, and as we endure the current separation, a home altar can be really helpful as a focus of prayer and worship. The Diocese has created a web page with some excellent resources (http://www.cdrworship.org/coronavirus), and the following link also provides some really fine suggestions and links to prayers resources: https://catholicherald.co.uk/video-masses-prayer-apps-and-virtual-retreats-spiritual-resources-for-this-time/ . A novena against the virus is available here: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

Finally, we are hoping to livestream the Sunday Mass from St. Benedict--we will update you on details about that. And it is my intention to send out a spiritual reflection every few days, so be on the lookout for those as well. 

I remain available to each and every one of you. If you need anything at all, don't hesitate to call or email. 

God bless you, 

Fr. John David Ramsey 

Pastor

Bishop Knestout encourages anyone aware of sexual abuse of minors on the part of clergy or staff of the Diocese of Richmond to notify civil authorities by calling the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064, and then contacting the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Jennifer Sloan at 1-877-887-9603.