Saint Paul's Episcopal Church


Thomas and A Street - Altus, Oklahoma

Priest's Reflections

Dear Parish Family,

It is hard to believe that we are fast approaching the end of Lent. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and Easter Sunday is April 12th. Since we last met in the nave of St. Paul's to worship on March 8th our daily activities and the world have changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 virus. Public worship services have been canceled to reduce the amount of personal physical interaction to help stop the spread of the disease. We have been rightly instructed by numerous authorities to stay-at-home as much as possible to not only protect ourselves but to also protect others. The days are indeed trying and challenging, but we are all in this together and each of us must do our part to halt the virus. Remember to reach out, check on, and support one another, especially those who live alone. I remain available to you all so please feel free to contact at any time of day or night if I may be of assistance or you have a special need.

I hope you are aware that we are continuing to have worship services at St. Paul's and are live-streaming them through our face-book page and website. (the services are "public" so you can view without being a member on face-book) During the service you can send us prayer requests by simply sending a comment while watching the service. (In addition, it helps us to know that we are, in fact, live streaming.) The Tuesday Noonday Prayer service was the first to "live-stream" and continues each Tuesday at noon from the Chapel. Up until this point the Sunday services at 10:30 am have been that of Morning Prayer Rite II, also from the Chapel. Both provide us the opportunity to worship together spiritually, even if not together physically. Thanks to the technical expertise of Jon Kidwell, who found a way to "boost" our wi-fi signal into the nave, beginning this Palm Sunday, April 5th, we will do the Sunday worship service in the nave. It will be a Holy Eucharist Service. Until we are able to once again gather physically, we will continue with this schedule of worship services. ----And about now I imagine you are asking the question: how can we all participate in the Eucharist?

Well, there is the ancient Doctrine of Spiritual Communion well established in the Anglican (Episcopal), Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic Churches. In difficult times like these, when you are unable to physically attend the Eucharist, you can still reach out to Christ Jesus in the Eucharist by making a spiritual communion in prayer. The great St. Thomas Aquinas encouraged such spiritual communion. He described it as "an ardent desire to receive Christ in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace, as though we had already received him."

A prayer of spiritual communion with Christ can be made in a matter of seconds, and you can even repeat it throughout the day. The following are two beautiful classic prayers of spiritual communion, asking the Lord to nourish our hearts with His love.
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You! Amen
Oh, Jesus, I turn toward the holy tabernacle where You live hidden from me. I love you, O my God. I cannot receive you in Holy Communion. Come, nevertheless, and visit me with Your grace. Come spiritually into my heart. Purify it. Sanctify it. Render it like unto Your own! Amen.
Praying for spiritual communion---even offering it without words, just expressing the yearnings of your heart---shows a deep longing for the Eucharist. It shows your soul's greatest desire: to be united to the Eucharistic life of Christ, the heart of Love, incarnate.

To conclude, I wish I could tell you when we might physically worship together again---but I do not know either. So you will see that the serving schedule for the month of April does include the weekly lectionary lessons but no listed servers. What I Do KNOW IS THIS: God is with us always---and together we will get through this challenging time. SO FEAR NOT, continue praying for one another and the world---remain calm---and KEEP THE FAITH.

May we each have a meaningful Holy Week and a Joyous Easter!!

Blessings always,

Mother Suzanne








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