When pews are empty

Father J.D. Betzen delivers a homily in Spanish during one of the daily Masses streamed this week from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. Click here for a list of parishes streaming Masses. (Advance photo)

Streamed Masses help priests reach the faithful

Bishop and priests are praying for all in these trying times

For a link to streamed Masses, click here.

Bishop Carl A. Kemme stepped up to the ambo of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Friday, March 20, as he had many times before. This Mass was unlike any other Mass he had celebrated. The church was empty except the priests assisting him and those streaming the Mass over the internet.

He said he was grateful to be able to reach out to the faithful so that he could pray with them during these turbulent times.

Bishop, priests praying for faithful

“Please know that during this time my brother priests and I are very mindful of all of you as we celebrate our Masses with you now in spirit throughout this unprecedented crisis,” he said. “Know how much our priests and I are thinking of you and praying for each of you as we experience this sadness together as a community of faith.”

The bishop said he has become fond of the apostolic greeting reserved for bishops at the beginning of the Mass. “Peace be with you. It is indeed a greeting that I extend to you, to your hearts, your homes, your families.”

Jesus is with us, Bishop Kemme said. “He stands with us. Walks with us in this critical time.”

Focus on what truly matters

After expounding on the readings of the day, the bishop said we sometimes get our spiritual priorities mixed up.

“We’re more concerned with less important things, or non-essential things, or peripheral things, and not focused on what truly matters.”

What is essential, Bishop Kemme said, is love of God with all our hearts, with all our mind, and love for our neighbor. Truly loving each other in service and in support is how we can get through this crisis, he said.

“So my brothers and sisters let’s pray for each other and continue to pray for each other. Because God has chosen us to live this day with him, a day of love, the love of God and love of our neighbor. God bless you all.”

Bishop Carl A. Kemme asked the faithful in this time of instability to cast all their cares on Jesus because he cares deeply for all.

“Let that be our hope and consolation today, the Day of the Lord,” he said before blessing the faithful watching via the internet. “God bless your Sunday of worship in the best way we can for now and rest – hopefully, a rest from the burden of our present and, God willing, temporary distress.”

Bishop happy to be seen online

Bishop Kemme told those viewing Sunday, March 22, that he was grateful they connected to the Mass through the internet, and that out to charity it was prudent to do so to minimize the infection rate of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Hopefully, we will all be able to gather once again in our beloved churches and cathedrals for the full participation in the Mass. Imagine how wonderful that will be! Let’s anticipate that together.”

Bishop Kemme talked about the parallels between the Gospel story of Jesus giving sight of the man born blind and our crisis today.

“He, too, felt helpless, alone, afraid – forced to beg each day for his daily sustenance. His world was dark, not only physically, but emotionally, and spiritually. He had been afflicted with a lifelong pestilence called blindness that left him isolated, disconnected, and in need each and every day.”

The blind man’s encounter with Jesus changed his life, Bishop Kemme said. In an act that anticipates the power of baptism, the blind man washes away the impurity on his eyes and can see.

“Now for the first time… he could see the earth, the sky, the flowers, the people, all of creation,” Bishop Kemme said. “What joy must have filled his heart as his eyes were flooded with these images for the first time – and especially when he saw the face of the one who made it all possible, his lord, his master, his savior, Jesus Christ.”

The bishop related the Gospel story to a verse from Isaiah, that states: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in a land of gloom, light has shone.”

Jesus will help us see in these dark times

The times we are in feel like days of darkness and gloom, he said, “but let us recall that we have had the eyes of our souls anointed by Christ in order to see his unmistakable presence and power in the darkness of our lives.”

Baptism directs our lives to God, Bishop said, to light and life through faith and worship. “It is our faith and worship, the offering of our lives to God that will see us through all of this. How blessed we are to know and to believe in a God who walks with us into the darkness, illuminating our minds and hearts with the consoling power of his word and presence.”
Sadly, he continued, the faithful may not commune at this time with the Risen Savior.

“He is still here in our tabernacles, accompanying us on the pathways of life, healing our blindness that is caused by sorrow, distress, doubts, and pain,” Bishop Kemme said.

“Go to him now and in the days ahead spiritually, but nevertheless, no less powerfully, and ask him to heal this darkness for you, for your family, for our church, and for the world.