May 15, 2020

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Psalm 42:2).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our souls have been longing for the Lord like the longing for a loved one who is at a distance from us. We can use technology to remain close but nothing can compare with being present to that person and actually be able to touch them. 

This longing is what we have been experiencing for the last several weeks and months.  This longing for the Lord has caused a form of satisfaction to know that the Lord is close no matter what.  But it has simultaneously created a form of thirst for Him like never before. The Call of Jesus to St. Thomas to come and touch and not just see, is the same calling that we have received as well.  To ultimately touch the Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist so that we may connect His wounds with ours.

In doing so, we first recognize that our wounds have been very deep.  Our community has experienced the loss of family members and friends in tragic ways. We have not only been quarantined from the rest of the world, but we have even been quarantined from our loved ones especially in their greatest needs.  For some up to their last dying breath.  We have seen the reality that we are from dust to dust.

This virus has been challenging in so many other divesting ways.  Our community, and not just our world, is in desperate need for healing.  The devastating power of evil seen in this virus can leave us desirous of greater good and yet leave us angry, anxious, and depressed. We are in need of healing from fear, loneliness, helplessness, etc. 

It was during this period of the pandemic that we ‘celebrated’ the risen Lord.  And today the Church, which is the Body of Christ, is dedicated to celebrate His resurrection in you.  To experience the visit of Christ like that to the apostles when they had their own ‘quarantine’ of sorts; when their doors and windows were shut out of fear.  Jesus stands before you as He stood before them and says, “SHLAMA, PEACE!”

The Church, which is the Body of Christ (Colossians 1:18), is committed to this healing, and the first wave of healing must come through a direct contact with the healer through the Eucharist.  As St. Ephrem the great calls Jesus present to us in the Eucharist as ‘The Medicine of Life.’  This is the first step for healing and to assist in the road to recovery. For He receives you as you receive Him. Therefore, all Chaldean Churches in our diocese in Detroit and in Chicago will distribute the Body of Christ beginning this Sunday, May 17.  All distribution will be done in the parking lot to adhere to our local government’s mandates.

We will not end there.  It is time to connect our wounds with His and make them a gateway to touch His Heart. For all those who have been living in anxiety and fear, and have doubts about the future, the Lord calls you out of darkness; and the Church is resolute in aiding you in your pain.

The need for healing is paramount. We are stepping up to try to help in group settings and in individual settings as well. We the clergy of this diocese are up to the task to take on a vital role in your healing.  We are also calling upon the therapeutic leaders in psychology to assist and in some cases to take lead.  We have already been engaged with so many different means of healing, and we will increase as the government begins to ease up on the shutdowns. Though we will never be normal as a result of this chaos, we need to return to some form of normalcy.

Armed with the promise of Jesus and revealed through St. Paul, we can firmly proclaim that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:3–5).  For we live what we proclaim that we have hope in the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  We proclaim at every Mass Mssabaro Sabraith b-Marya (hoping I had hoped in the Lord), we put our faith in Him and His work through us.  The Lord will respond.  And we are His instruments.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God. – Psalm 42:11

The Church has been praying with you and for you. The Church is there for you.  God bless you all.  God assist our infirmed, especially those with COVID-19.  God rest the souls of all who died during this difficult period of time and God help the families who are dealing with their losses.

+ Bishop Francis Kalabat