After much prayer and discussion, I wish to offer you the following guidelines.
Many are aware of the increase of COVID cases in Barron county. We must take steps to protect our families and keep our churches open. So far, our churches have not been accountable for an increase in the number of cases of the virus. I am very thankful all of you have been wearing masks. Although I have no scientific proof the fact that our services have not been included in contact tracing, I do believe that indicates we are doing the right thing. Still it feels as if this mushroom cloud of virus circles around us. We must be more vigilant and thoughtful on what we do.
Many are thinking of the upcoming holidays. The new normalcy is teaching us what not to do. So please consider this as we move forward.
If you have family coming for any of our holidays, please do not come to church. Even if your extended family does not come to church do not you come to church. You may be a carrier. Follow the two-week quarantine mandate. Stay home. Watch mass on Facebook or later in the day on stjosephricelake.org. This means both for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Over the weekend, take time to spend with God. Watch online. Make this a family event. Have people gather for a special prayer time. Pray for the souls in purgatory and pray for those who are sick or suffering from this virus. Pray to keep your family safe.
Jesus is coming. Prepare your home for His coming. Not just Christmas decorations, but Advent themes too. Get some thin, supple pine boughs. Weave together in a circle. Get three purple candles and one pink. Place them in the circle or wrap the boughs around the candles. If you have children get the thick candles that will not tip over. Each night have a five minute lighting ceremony, with each successive week adding the lighting of another candle, pink being the third week. Turn off all the lights in the house. Watch the light of Christ come into your home.
Make a Jesse Tree. If your kids are a little older a little Bible search with Googles help will allow you to find Old Testament stories that tell of the coming of the Messiah. Hand drawn and cut out ornaments with a little color work best. In the evening when you light your Advent candle, add the new ornament for the day to your Jesse Tree.
Neither idea takes a lot of work but if really pressed for time get an Advent calendar. Each day you open a new door on the calendar. It may have a prayer to say, or a Bible verse, or some activity to do.
Nothing takes the place of participating in mass and receiving the Eucharist, but in the situation we are in now I think it better to focus on your health and your family. If coming to mass causes you to think twice about coming, at least for the next couple of weeks, please stay home.
You are all in my prayers.
May the Lord bless you and keep you all healthy in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen