My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is very hard for me to believe that it has only been about ten days since I sent out to all of our locations certain guidelines and directives regarding the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other gatherings in our parishes and other locations. The landscape has changed dramatically since. In fact, it changes every day. The pandemic we face has grown and all indications are that it will continue to do so for some time. With that in mind, I am sending all of you this update of MANDATED directives that we will all follow over the weeks to come.
We were all hoping that the restriction on the celebration of public Masses would end by Monday morning of next week, that is, on March the 30th. That is no longer the case. Please advise your parishioners, ministers and employees that the suspension of public Mass and all activities at our parishes will continue INDEFINITELY. Clearly this will directly impact our Holy Week celebrations, RCIA programs and, again, many other activities. On the following pages you will find instructions and directives as to how that will be handled and in what manner and to what extent, if any, some of our Triduum and Easter celebrations can be observed.
This is a kind of ‘death’ experience for us all. We have given up much this Lent. It has been a true, if temporary, loss. We are dying to ourselves and like Lazarus of this Sunday’s Gospel, we too are waiting for the Lord to call us back to life. Like his dear sister, Martha, we are also proclaiming with full voice, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
So, yes, my brothers and sisters, there is life on the other side of all this sacrifice and suffering we are currently undergoing. We have all been reminded that there is no Easter without Calvary. But what a glorious Easter it will be, here and hereafter!
Bishop Joseph V. Brennan
To All Clergy, Parish/School Staff, And Catholic Faithful
Of The Diocese Of Fresno
March 25, 2020