Dear Sisters and Brothers
Like myself, you probably wish that our return to Mass after a 4-month fast from the Eucharist could be simpler and more in keeping with its deep spiritual reality. Instead: having to do this; not having to do that: it’s all a bit of a turn-off, to put it mildly, even though we know it is for our safety.
If you can, though, please try and leave the irritation aside for a short while and consider how you might spiritually prepare yourself for returning. It will calm things down and make it easier to bear the palaver.
GIVE THANKS: The Lord has allowed us this trial, but he is now giving at least some of us the joy and grace of sharing again in his sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father. The crowning fulfilment of that sharing is the sacrament of Holy Communion. Although you may feel annoyed, come ready to have a grateful heart.
CONSOLED BY THE TRUTH: We have had to listen to some hard facts and sad truths in these months. No doubt, our doubt has become greater at times. Confusion, too, at reports, advice, analysis, synthesis …. But when we hear the Word, the Gospel of the Lord, we are not confused any more, nor are we doubtful. We rather exclaim, “thanks be to God!”, “praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!” Hopefully, our hearts are that wee bit more open to the Word we hear because they are hungrier for truth, for its consolation, for its permanence in our hearts and minds: “heaven and earth will pass away, but my Word will never pass away.” Although you may feel annoyed, come to let your mind and heart be consoled by the Word of Truth.
SACRIFICE: During these months each of us will have had various sacrifices to make and sufferings to face. Bring all of these with you to Mass and place them on the paten with the host that will be consecrated. In this way, let all your sacrifices become one with the supreme sacrifice of Jesus. See him offering them to the Father, telling the Father of your faith and trust, of your hope and anxiety and of your love which has been put to the test at this time. As the Father accepted the sacrifice of the Cross, so he will surely accept your sacrifices. Although you may be annoyed, come and bring all your annoyances and other sacrifices to the One who can transform them into life and energy for love.
CONSECRATION: This point of the Mass is one of deep devotion for everyone. As you see the priest consecrate the bread and wine, make yourself part of the “material” being consecrated. Let the coming of the Spirit on the gifts to transform them into the Body and Blood of Christ, renew within you your baptismal and confirmation consecration. It is your whole person, your whole life that He desires to renew. Although you may be annoyed, let the deep truth of your consecration to Jesus blow the annoyance away as smoke.
COMMUNION: For many of you, this has been a time of isolation and loneliness. Feeling cut off from the Church in such times must also therefore have felt particularly painful. But, of course, the Spirit of God always keeps those who trust in God in communion with him, even if we don’t feel it. What is now life-giving again for us all is that our deep spiritual communion in Jesus can be expressed again physically. To feel that your body is part of the mystical body of the Church, and to feel once more united to the sacramental Body of the Lord. Although you may be annoyed, rejoice that you are counted among those He has chosen to be in the great communion of the Church.
LIFE CONQUERS DEATH BECAUSE LOVE CONQUERS DEATH: This is the message of every Mass. The love of God made visible in the Cross of Jesus and in the banquet which brings Him among us, dead but risen, hated but loving. Many will have been anxious for their own life and the lives of their loved ones at this time. Let anxiety give way to confidence. The “corona” (crown) does not belong to the virus, but to you and me in Jesus our King. Although you may be annoyed, let your hope in life over, beyond and despite death, be intrepid and undaunted.
BODY LANGUAGE: We have been distant for 4 months. Even although we are still 2 metres apart, we are yet nearer. “Nearer my God to Thee”! But also nearer, and hopefully dearer, to one another. Our mouths and noses may be covered, but our eyes, the windows of our souls, are visible, alive, joyful. Take a good look at each other! And then, there is our sitting together, standing together, kneeling together,responding together. We are all doing the same thing, saying the same thing, loving the same Lord, receiving the same sacrament – together! We are a body, a community, a communion. We belong to each other. Each belongs to all and all to each – together! Although you may feel annoyed, let even your body speak of the joy of togetherness.
MISSION: The Mass is never over when it is over! The end of the Mass is the Miss-ion. We are sent out to bring thanksgiving, truth, sacrifice, consecration, communion, victory and the physical closeness of Christ in his Church to whomsoever we are with and meet. So, finally, although you may feel annoyed by all the masks and metres and mumblings … be apostles of Christ and live out in your life once again the Mass, the pearl of great price, with generosity and joy of heart.
You will be a sight for my sore eyes, I can assure you, for what is any shepherd without his sheep?