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Message from Fr. John (3-23-20)

“All things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28)

March 23, 2020

Dear St. Denis parishioners:

We have entered uncharted territory.  On March 19th, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order requiring everyone in California to stay home to limit the spread of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), “except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as the State Public Health Officer may designate as critical to protect health and well-being of all Californians.”  And because most of us don’t work in these sectors, we are staying home, and trying to work from home as best we can.

Some people may complain about how their lives have been disrupted and how they are “stuck at home” in a quasi-quarantine.  But we need to count our blessings, because home is the safest place that we can possibly be during this coronavirus pandemic.  And if we approach this quasi-quarantine in the right way, we will realize that there are many other potential blessings as well.

For example, families can grow closer by being forced to stay home with each other for an extended period of time.  In normal times, parents and children rush off in different directions, with parents going to work and children going to school and various after-school activities.  Everyone is so busy that we often don’t eat meals together.  The current quasi-quarantine allows families to slow down and focus on building their familial relationships—e.g., by eating meals together every day, talking with each other, playing games together, going outside and exercising as a family, and just spending time with each other and hanging out.  If we approach this quasi-quarantine in the right way, our families will be stronger and more loving when the quasi-quarantine ends.

In addition to giving us time to nurture our familial relationships, this quasi-quarantine also gives us time to nurture and renew our relationship with God, who is with us in all of the turmoil and uncertainty.  We just need to turn back to the Lord and reach out to Him. 

We can start by praying.  Archbishop Gomez has asked us to pray a “Prayer in the Time of the Coronavirus,” which is set forth on the front page of St. Denis’s website ( and which he wrote for this moment.  In addition, I recommend praying a Rosary Novena by praying the Rosary (along with the Archbishop’s prayer) for nine consecutive days.  Since many family members are staying home from work and school, you and your family can pray the Rosary Novena together, with a different person leading each decade of the Rosary.  (For instructions on praying the Rosary, please click here or here.) 

This is how I am praying during this difficult time.  Each day, I kneel down beside my bed to pray the Archbishop’s Prayer.  Then, I get up and walk in the neighborhood while praying the Rosary; and I use my fingers to count the “Hail Marys.”  Today is the ninth day of my Rosary Novena, but I will continue to pray in this way until the crisis is over.

This is also the perfect time to starting reading the Bible every day, because, frankly, we need to read, study, and pray with the Bible if we want to grow in our relationship with the Lord. 

One way to read the Bible is by reading the daily Mass readings, which are available on the U.S. Bishops’ website ( and various smartphone apps, such as Laudate.  I also recommend reading a good reflection on the daily readings.  My favorite daily reflections are on the website of The Word Among Us (, which publishes a monthly magazine with the daily readings and reflections.  (During this challenging time, The Word Among Us is providing free access to its entire website.)

Another way to read the Bible is by reading one book of the Bible at a time.  You can start with Luke’s Gospel, which begins with an extensive narrative of Jesus’s conception, birth, and childhood.  I recommend the New American Bible (Revised Edition) translation, because this translation is used for all of our Masses.  This translation is available for free on the U.S. Bishops’ website (  When reading the Bible, please be sure to read the introductory material and the footnotes so that you will better understand the context.   

In these ways and other ways, this quasi-quarantine is an opportunity for us to nurture and build up our families and nurture and build up our relationship with God.  Then, when this quasi-quarantine ends, we will have a more loving family and a stronger, more loving relationship with the Lord.  As St. Paul says, “all things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

Let us pray for each other, for our parish and Church, and for our country and world. 

And please stay home and stay safe.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. John Palmer
St. Denis Catholic Church
Diamond Bar

P.S.  Please remember to pray daily for all of those who are suffering from the coronavirus, all those who have died, and for their family members and caregivers.  Also, please pray for all those who work in the “critical infrastructure sectors” (including doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, and first responders, including police officers and firefighters) who are keeping our society running while many of us are in a quasi-quarantine.       

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