(Updated March 2, 2021)
It isn’t easy to look back and realize that more than 12 months have passed since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state of Oregon. Those cases were followed by the restrictions and closures of facilities to which we have all become familiar.
I won’t say that we’ve become “used to” living with this pandemic as that implies some normalcy to the situation, and I am reluctant to acknowledge that. Even as we mourn the immense loss of life, livelihood, and so much else that has resulted from it, we see hope on the horizon. This month, we see progress in the availability of vaccines, a slowing of the spread of the disease, and a modest lifting of some restrictions in our part of Oregon.
We are happy to say that the Abbey bookstore is open again now, as our museum will be starting March 10. Both have limited days and hours (noted below). The Abbey church remains open from 9 am (10 on Sundays) until about 8 pm for people to visit for private prayer or join us monks for noon prayer and vespers. The Saint Benedict Guesthouse and Retreat Center has remained open for small groups and individual retreats. In all our public indoor spaces, face coverings and social distancing are still required by Marion County and the Oregon Health Authority.
Mount Angel Seminary is open, and our students have been nothing less than heroic in their generous adherence to the restrictions placed on them as a result of the pandemic. Access to the Abbey’s library is open only to the monks and students to provide a safe place for them to spread out and study.
Please know we monks continue to pray for the sick, the dying, healthcare workers, and all who have been negatively affected by this pandemic. We invite you to join us online for our live-streamed liturgies.
I also continue to produce the short weekly videos I began a year ago, also in Lent, that began as a way to keep in touch and share messages of hope and inspiration. You can find them online and sign up if you wish to receive them each week by email.
Please join us in seeking out the blessings hidden within this genuinely challenging time. It is a global crisis, but one in which we may yet find new depths in our faith and trust in the love of Christ.
Peace to you,
Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B.