Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated the liturgy of the Lord's Passion April 10 in St. Rose Church, Belmar.

The Good Friday liturgy, celebrated without a congregation, was livestreamed, the replay of which can be viewed on all diocesan media outlets, including YouTube.

The Bishop was joined in the liturgy by Msgr. Edward Arnister, pastor of St. Rose Parish; Father Christopher Dayton, parochial vicar, and Father Jason Parzynski, who served as the Bishop’s master of ceremonies

After the Reading of the Passion, Father Dayton preached the homily, in which he admitted that after hearing of the horror of the Crucifixion – and in light of today’s pandemic – it may be easy to ask, “Where is God?”

“From the Cross, our Lord cries out, ‘Why have you forsaken me.’ This is no ordinary cry of abandonment,” Father Dayton preached. “Rather, it is Christ praying the great psalm of suffering Israel.”

Father Dayton continued by saying that Jesus takes this anguish and helplessness upon himself and transforms it. “Jesus does not declare the absence of God in his most extreme moment of suffering. Rather, he turns it into a prayer and a teaching moment.”

He said, “In this unprecedented time, the world is suffering. Nailed to the cross of pandemic, fear, loneliness, anxiety, God may not have caused this situation, but he is permitting it. He has left us with what he wants us to notice – family, loved ones, our true priorities in our time and ultimately our relationship with God.”

Today’s circumstances, Father Dayton said, give the faithful an opportunity to see that only God can fill one’s soul, especially as one cannot worship in church or receive the Eucharist at present time.

“Where do we stand in this time of sickness and the unknown?” he asked. “Are we standing at the foot of the Cross, uniting our sufferings with the Lord, or do we look elsewhere?

“This is the moment, for the real question will be, ‘How will we respond to this chaotic and seemingly never-ending darkness that has affected the whole world?’ Do we turn to God? Do we cry out to him? Do we turn to the Cross? Do we hear Christ’s cry to his father and his prayer on our behalf, or have the distractions of this world kept us from this moment?”

“It is in this time that we must turn to Christ, always present, always united to us, always the suffering servant,” he preached.

After the veneration of the cross, Bishop O’Connell invited all at home to make a spiritual communion.

 

(During the COVID-19 pandemic, Holy Communion can only be distributed to the faithful as Viaticum for the dying until further notice.)