Dear Members of our St. Bonaventure Family,
Peace and all good!
So much has happened since we last spoke. Where to begin? Perhaps the best place is with what matters most, telling you that you remain in the minds and hearts of all who are privileged to serve you at St. Bonaventure University. In a special way, this is true of Franciscan Friars here, who remember you every time we gather for prayer.
Before celebrating Evening Prayer yesterday, we Friars gathered in our chapel to “check in” with one another – much as I imagine you have been doing with your own families and loved ones. One of our brothers, Fr. David Couturier, who directs the Franciscan Institute, quoted a friend, saying, “This is the ‘lentiest’ Lent I’d ever been lent.” You may well agree with Fr. David --- regardless of whether you are Christian.
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the traditional disciplines of Lent, the religious season in which we Christians prepare ourselves to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead at Easter. I cannot but imagine that these disciplines have marked your lives, too.
We pray for all the victims of the coronavirus, for their loved ones, their caregivers, and all who labor to protect us from this scourge.
We fast from the company of family and friends, classmates and teammates, professors, colleagues and fellow Bonnies who make our lives so special.
We give alms, always reaching out to our neighbors in need. Such charity is a hallmark of the Franciscan Tradition that lies at the heart of our beloved university. This is what Bonnies do.
For however long the present prescriptions of social distancing, travel restrictions, and quarantines may last, Lent itself is drawing to a close. Next week we will begin Holy Week. The joy of Easter is drawing near and, with it, the renewal of our hope that no matter how dark the present moment may be – even as dark as a tomb – life is God’s graced promise.
In this same spirit of hope, I invite you to join us for Holy Week services at St. Bonaventure's University Chapel through the university's various media platforms.(NOTE: The services will feature only a presider and reader; no congregation.)
Please, mark your calendars. Our schedule of Holy Week services is:
To watch the Masses, click here to visit our University Ministries YouTube page. There will also be video links available at the scheduled broadcast times on the university’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Our goal is to continue to broadcast Mass from the University Chapel every Sunday through May 17, each at 11 a.m. If you happen to be “late” for Mass, have no fear. As will be the case for all our Holy Week services, these Masses will remain available online for you to view and prayerfully to participate in whenever you are able to join us.
We may be separated by time and space, but Christian faith teaches that, no matter how far we may seem to be from one another, in Christ we are closer to one another than we could ever imagine. This truth is truer than ever right now.
This pandemic may have torn us away from one another, but we Bonnies are sisters and brothers. No degree of distance – even of social distancing – can change that. So, let us live this oneness together in prayer with one another.
When we last spoke, I closed our time together by inviting us all to be united in prayer with St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Family. Truth be told, I can think of no better way to close this time together, as well. That we may remain faithful to who we are as Bonnies, let us pray,
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
With the blessing of such peace and love, pardon and faith, hope and light and, above all, true and life-giving joy, I remain,
Br. Russel, ofm
Rev. Russel T. Murray, O.F.M., Ph.D., S.T.L.
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