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“The Spirit of God is Alive”: Bishop Deeley Discusses the Reopening of Churches, Improved Livestreams, and the Beauty of Communication During Sunday Mass in Portland

PORTLAND---On a weekend in which the Diocese of Portland announced that Maine parishes would start to open their doors in June, Bishop Robert Deeley shared another exciting development with the thousands watching his live-streamed Mass from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday, May 24.

“When we began this Mass back in March, it very quickly became evident that there were some periodic problems with its transmission,” the bishop told the participants viewing from home about Masses live-streamed Mass from the Cathedral. ”I think that your ability to participate has gotten better over the weeks. The staff at the Cathedral has worked very hard to improve our experience of this Mass. We are now able to send it out via fiber-optic cable, and we have installed new cameras to make it possible to bring the picture closer to the altar.”

The bishop thanked the benefactors who volunteered to help fund the improvements and the staff for their tireless efforts in enhancing the experience, one that will continue past the pandemic.

“We now have a system which will allow events to be live-streamed from this beautiful church going forward,” said Bishop Deeley. “We intend to continue to use livestream even after we return to celebrations of Mass in our parish churches.”

The bishop also reminded the public that the long list of live-streamed Masses at Maine parishes will continue despite the limited re-opening of churches for daily and Sunday Masses, hopefully making decisions easier for many people.

“I strongly urge you as well to look at the guidance that has been published by the CDC. It points out that there are some people, either because of age or a condition of health, who should not be participating in any group activity, including Mass. They are more susceptible to this virus. For your health and safety, I encourage you to follow that guidance. I have, you will recall, left the dispensation from attending Sunday Mass in place, and will continue to do so. We want people to be safe.”

Sunday’s readings and Gospel could be understood as the beginning of the Church. Jesus commissions his disciples to continue to teach in his name and to bring others into the community of disciples through baptism. The Gospel ends, as it had begun, with the promise that Jesus will continue to be Emmanuel, "God with us" (cf. Matthew 1:23), for all eternity.

“The Church takes its life from an act of God, the sending of the Holy Spirit which we will celebrate next Sunday on Pentecost. Remember the story of the Annunciation: Mary was asked to be the mother of the son of God,” said Bishop Deeley. “The angel Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would come over her. The birth of Christ comes through the Holy Spirit. So, too, does the conception and birth of the Church.”

In discussing the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:12-14) in which Mary, Jesus’ mother, is surrounded by the Apostles in prayer in a beautiful reflection on the Church, is only known because the apostles talked about it. The telling of the story is, in the end, the result of prayer.

“The Church marks today World Communications Day, an annual event,” said the bishop. “In our prayerful reflection on the stories of the Gospel we, just as was the case for the Apostles, are guided by the Spirit to do the work of God. When we tell our stories of how we know God, we are evangelizing.”

One way in which the Diocese of Portland shares the Good News is the diocese’s official magazine, Harvest.

“Six times a year we read the stories of those whose lives have been touched by the Spirit in the midst of the community of the Church, and have found ways to bring the love of God that they have known to others,” said the bishop, who gave several examples of recent stories that have inspired him. “The Spirit of God is alive. That’s what these stories of Harvest tell us.”

To read, subscribe, or learn more about Harvest, visit www.portlanddiocese.org/harvest. The communication present at the start of the Church continues to be a blessing today in many, many ways.

“The message of the Gospel, the story of God’s love revealed in Jesus, repeated in the community of the Church, stirs the prayerful hearts of those who hear it and gives them courage even in difficult times like our present moment to live the Gospel of love,” said Bishop Deeley. “Let us, then, be grateful for the work of the Spirit among us.”

The Diocese of Portland is offering updates multiple times per day on its Coronavirus Response page. Offerings include daily updates and opportunities from the diocese and Maine parishes; public, live-streamed, and parking lot Mass schedules for Maine parishes; ways to participate in Mass from home on television and radio; drive-thru confession schedules for Maine parishes; parking lot and live-streamed adoration schedules for Maine parishes; conversations with priests; Holy Hour schedules; recitations of the rosary; special presentations; prayer and faith resources to assist you in your spiritual growth; and ways to receive assistance.