When the Churches Re-Open – A Time of Penance and Jubilation
(This article will apply to people differently based on whether or not you have had the blessing of receiving Holy Communion at times during this pandemic interdict.)
In this time in which the Holy Mass has been locked away into our televisions and computers, when we have been required to fast from the Holy Eucharist, and when the Sacrament of Confession is restrictively available, it has caused me to regard these sacred gifts much differently.
At first, it was a mere inconvenience, with the accompanying thought being, “I’ll appreciate the Eucharist and the Church much more now, after a week or two without Holy Communion.”
With nearly two months having now passed since the deprivation of the Blessed Sacrament has begun, the pain of the void which this Divine Gift’s absence has caused is bringing about a purification of my perspective.
We naturally, as we are taught, regard the Holy Eucharist as a Divine Gift, of which we are not worthy, and for which we must always be grateful.
However, when Our Lord is offered to us in this manner on a daily basis, and when access to Holy Mass is not difficult, we can naturally begin to expect to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, even feeling that it is something we must necessarily be afforded.
However, today, there is also a widespread lack of proper reverence given to Our Lord in this Most Blessed Sacrament. With a great many Catholics living in mortal sin and ignoring the call to repentance and Confession, perhaps those many Catholics today should not be receiving Holy Communion?
This prevalent attitude among the impious, when those who reject the Church’s teachings still casually receive Our Lord in the Eucharist, can function like an infection within the Body of Christ – those who desire to be good and holy can easily be tempted to grow weak and lose the fortitude necessary to ignore the prevalent apathy and increase daily in holy zeal.
As a result, many of us simply went about our business, and included the Divine Gift of Holy Communion among the ‘good things’ in this life and merely the key to sanctifying our Sunday observance.
A Pandemic-fueled Interdict
Now, however, we are deprived of this Divine Gift. Sundays are spent restricted to our homes, at the mercy of the technology by which we can ‘participate’ in Holy Mass. ‘Spiritual Communion’ is a new ‘buzz word’ that everyone knows too well (not a bad thing at all, though). When we hear that some have had the special privilege of attending Mass, for whatever reason, jealousy easily attempts to bubble up to the surface.
As week by week comes and goes, and the novelty of the ‘temporary’ situation of livestreaming Mass begins instead to look like a ‘new normal,’ the prospect of attending Holy Mass again and receiving Our Lord’s Body and Blood, begins to look like the advent of some stupendous event – as it should.
A Greater Appreciation
Before I receive Our Lord again, it seems fitting that I should get prepared.
Before I receive Our Lord again, it seems fitting that a time of fasting and abstinence, penance and reparation, should precede it.
Before I receive Our Lord again, it seems fitting that a deliberate and intense effort is made to rekindle that devotion which the Holy Spirit had, at my Baptism, first ignited in my soul; a burning love which is a share in that of the fiery heart of St. John the Baptist, whose sole purpose was to prepare himself and the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah!
A Great Jubilation!
The opening of the Churches and the resumption of Holy Mass and Holy Communion will be like the proclamation of a Great Jubilee!
“Behold,” the priests will call out, “The Bridegroom is here! Come out to meet Him!”
The blessed Church bells should ring for days to celebrate the great Gift of God-made-man made present in the Holy Eucharist!
Never again should we allow ourselves to simply stride into Mass without the best Sunday outfit and the best Sunday soul we can muster.
An hour of fasting before Holy Communion should no longer feel sufficient. Holy Communion without a recent Confession should seem to us so disrespectful that the old practice of receiving less frequently at Mass should be revisited.
Our Lord in Holy Mass and in Holy Communion was perhaps, before this pandemic event, once placed as simply one among the many blessings of the modern age, like our roads, cars, air conditioning, internet, and food supply chain. Then, His Gift to us in the Holy Eucharist must be established as the pinnacle and crown of our week – the sacred event toward which all of our daily activities orient us.
Soon, following this time of testing, we will prove where our hearts reside.
What will be the attitude of the faithful upon the re-opening of the Churches?
I propose a period of fasting, abstinence, prayer, and reparation, followed by cautious reception of this Divine Gift, keeping ever before our eyes the state of our souls, never daring to come close to this Most August Sacrament unless we have purified ourselves through penance and Confession.
May God, who is permitting us to endure this punishment, purify us through this trial.
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