Letters from the Bishop

                                                                                                                                 BISHOP'S OFFICE

March 12, 2020

 

The concern about the spread of the COVID 19 virus has touched almost every facet of our daily life. It is exactly times like this that we must lean into our faith, rather than becoming distracted from it with the flurry of constant challenges from the outside. We encourage each one of the faithful to practice commonsense ways to minimize the spread of infection and care for our neighbors as we respond to the Coronavirus outbreak in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith.

In conjunction with my brother bishops of Tennessee who have made similar dispensations, I publish the following decree and join in commending the people of our state to the protection of Mary, the Mother of God asking all to join in regular recitation of our beloved prayer, the Memorare.

This, and other updates, are also posted under illness updates at dioceseofnashville.com ....

Dispensation

As Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville, I have great concern for the wellbeing of the Christian faithful entrusted to my pastoral care in this time of uncertainty throughout the world. I therefore dispense until further notice the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays, for all persons who are sick or experiencing symptoms of illness, those who are vulnerable to infection because of age or medical condition, and any others who in their own judgment are at risk because of the current worldwide health situation. Those who take advantage of this dispensation are reminded of the ongoing obligation of divine law to honor the sabbath day, and are requested to do so by refraining from unnecessary work and by offering some additional prayers such as reciting the Holy Rosary, reading the readings from Sunday Mass, and/or praying the Stations of the Cross. [pray fervently for all those affected and will continue to monitor this situation and take appropriate action as needed.

With assurances of my prayers and best wishes for all of you,

+J. Mark Spalding
Bishop of Nashville

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Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,                                                                                                                                                                                                 March 12, 2020

For centuries, the Church has undergone and withstood many challenges. Likewise, these recent crises-the devasting tornado that struck Middle Tennessee last week, and the global pandemic of the Coronavirus-serve to remind us all of our fragility and imminent mortality. Our lives on earth are but a moment and we recall what we heard on Ash Wednesday, "Remember, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return".

As your Bishop, please know of my deepest personal sympathies and prayers for the repose of the souls for any who have died, for consolation to their families and comfort to those who are suffering.

Secondly, we need to remind ourselves that it is exactly times like this that we must also lean into our faith, rather than becoming distracted from it with the flurry of constant reporting. In that light, I encourage each one of the faithful to practice some commonsense ways that we can respond to this Coronavirus outbreak, consistent with our Catholic faith. In situations like this, I am reminded of a good bishop friend of mine who spoke of the three "P's":

Precautions: It is important that we prepare ourselves in every aspect of our lives to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe from this virus, including our worship together on a daily and weekly basis. Much of what we need to do has been explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding hygiene and keeping our public spaces clean and disinfected. Please realize that by doing these activities, they constitute acts of charity, protecting not simply ourselves, but the most vulnerable in our midst, especially the elderly and the sick. It is for those reasons why I have initiated new Mass guidelines to Pastors, and we have taken appropriate measures at Catholic Schools and our senior living facilities until such time that threats are diminished.

Prudence: The definition of prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by use of reason. We should not overreact or give into a sense of panic that can easily be generated by some of the media coverage we hear each day. We need to act reasonably, proportionately, and decisively in our actions and in our interaction with others, given the current information as we know it. Individual efforts such as refraining from handshakes, avoiding large crowds at event and especially--staying home if feeling ill. Those at risk or with health factors, you are not bound to attend Sunday Mass. These are acts of prudence and that are charitable and in service of our neighbor. Decisions based in fear often result in regrettable circumstances, so I implore everyone rather than giving into these fears and anxieties, to embrace them with the solace, love, and strength received from our Lord, Jesus Christ and our own Catholic community--helping us all to be more prudent in our actions.

Prayer: This is a time when we should all offer prayers for those who have perished from these terrible events, that they may rest in the Lord's peace, and for all who are suffering, or may feel alone or isolated. So that we have common voice, Task everyone to pray the two specific prayers which are shown below entitled "Bishop Spalding's Prayers". We need also remember both our blessings and obligations during this season of Lent-a time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Jesus himself was tested in the desert and if we find ourselves and our families in unusual circumstances in the upcoming weeks- away from work, school, or other hectic daily activities, an opportunity is being given to us for greater contemplation and self-reflection, such as Bible study, prayer groups, and adoration. Our diocesan website (dioceseofnashville.com) has wonderful resources for quality Bible study materials and a wealth of other formation tools, all which are free. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to find comfort and strength.

Finally, let us always remember that no matter how long this current storm lasts, the eternal spring oflove, faith, and hope always comes to us from the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Christ.

 

Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding
Bishop of Nashville

October 19, 2018

My Dear People of God,

God bless you all!

                In this moment of great challenge in our church, I ask for your prayers for healing and courage.  We come before God needing His assistance so that we may reach out toward those who have been hurt or who are hurting by the abuse crisis.  I am personally working to assure a better and safer future for our children! Never let us forget that all things are possible with God’s help!

                Of the many blessings I was excited about when I came to Nashville was that the diocese is poised for great growth and is a leader in priestly vocations.  What I have seen since becoming your bishop bears that out.  We have wonderful parishes and schools, and we are blessed with a strong group of seminarians.

                I will soon celebrate my first Priesthood Sunday as your bishop.  In the last eight months, I have come to know the priests serving our diocese, and I am happy to be working along with them to serve you.  I am grateful for each and every one of them.  I am thankful for the gifts and talents they share as priests and for their dedication to living out the life of Christ among us.

                Priesthood Sunday is a special day that is set aside nationally to reflect upon the role and vocation of the priesthood in the life of the Church.  Please join me in thanking the priests who have made a difference in your life.  Pray for these men every day!

                Seminarians are our future priests and are crucial to the future of our diocese.  They have been called and they are answering, but they cannot do it alone.  Their education and formation requires support from our priests but also from you, the lay faithful.  They need to be encouraged and guided in their vocations.  They need our prayer and our support as they continue to discern God’s will.  It is vitally important that these men are properly formed and educated as they prepare to minister to the People of God.

                For several years now, we have sought your financial support for our Seminarian Education Fund on Priesthood Sunday, which is celebrated this weekend.  You have been generous in your gifts, and your support has allowed 23 men to be ordained in the last five years.  Your continued support today will assist in the education and formation of the 27 men we currently have in formation.  These men represent the future of our Church in Middle Tennessee.  Your contribution today helps to ensure future priests will be available when you or a loved one needs them.

At this time especially, I share your belief in Jesus Christ who heals and strengthens us all.  We need good priests to bring us the light and life of Jesus.  Please help me continue to form the young men who are courageously answering the call to do just that.

                Please prayerfully consider supporting the Seminarian Education Fund.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding

Bishop of Nashville

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Prayer for Vocations:

Loving God,

You call all who believe in you to grow perfect in love by following in the footsteps of Christ your Son.

We pray to You to call from among us more men who will serve you as priests.

By their way of life, may they provide a convincing sign of your kingdom for the Church and the whole world.

Gracious and loving God, help men of our parish to hear their call to serve as priests in the Diocese of Nashville.

Our needs are great and our people thirst for your presence.

Open the hearts of many, raise up faithful servants of the Gospel, dedicated, holy priests, who will spend themselves for your people and their needs.

Bless those who are serving now with courage and perseverance.

Grant that many will be inspired by their example and faith.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen

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