My dear friends:
In our Rule of Life we read in the chapter, The Challenges of Sickness, that we are co-creators with the Holy Spirit who enables us to consecrate every aspect of life as an offering to God’s glory. Even sickness can be transfigured, and become the means by which we experience personally the reality of the Lord’s assurance, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” A brother’s illness affects the whole community and God will provide gifts of grace for us all.
This is surely such a time, when the illness of so many is having profound effects on the entire world. None of us are left untouched by the coronavirus. As each one of us looks for ways to limit and contain the spread of the virus, the Brothers have made two important decisions. Earlier this week, we announced the closure of the Guesthouse and our limiting non-urgent travel, until at least 7 May. Today we decided to close the monastery chapel for public worship. Beginning today 13 March 2020, the chapel will remain closed until further notice. This will, if necessary, include Holy Week and Easter.
While this decision saddens us, we believe that in light of the uncertainty surrounding the virus, it is a necessary precaution, both for the health of the members of our congregations, as well as our staff. The decision was not taken lightly. As the situation changes we will review this decision.
We are now working with the members of our communications team to find ways to audio stream or webcast some of our services.
Please refer back to our website for updates regarding both the reopening of the Chapel, as well as information on how to listen to webcasts of our services.
In the meantime I commend the following prayer to you from the New Zealand Prayer Book:
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to us
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
I remain, your brother in Christ,
James Koester SSJE
Your ministry is one of the most important parts of my religious life, not your physical proximity. So stay safe, and keep up the ministry, so that we may keep the faith.