Crises help us recover basics we have ignored.
In Catholic life, what is most essential is Jesus, our faith and trust in Him.
Basic as well is our sure belief that one of the most powerful ways Jesus remains with us in the Church is through the seven sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist—Mass and Holy Communion.
In recent decades, researchers—and just plain observation— have reported somberly that our faith in the sacraments, and our participation at Sunday Mass, have gone down.
Our current trauma, the onslaught of the coronavirus, has caused suffering and struggle for so many of us: those affected by it for sure, but also their families, our elders and homebound, our brave medical professionals, our civic leaders, those now in financial anxiety, our kids out of school and the parents who care for them, and so many who are scared.
The Bible, and history, tell us that in times of plague (now), war, famine, natural disaster, and economic woe, people turn to interior strength, to one another...and to the Lord!
A faith that may have been dormant or ignored is rediscovered, a trust in the Lord who repeated over and over again, “Be not afraid,” and in a Savior who taught, “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”
For us as Catholics, a recovered faith means cherishing anew the sacraments.
Understandably, from the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, down to the Bishop of New York, yours truly, tough decisions have been made to halt temporarily the public celebration of the Mass and the sacraments, as we take seriously our high moral obligation to protect the health of our people.
As necessary as this is, we bishops, priests, deacons, pastoral leaders, and our people are itching for the return of the Mass and the Sacraments. We need them! We want them!
Thank God at least that our churches are open for prayer, that the Mass is available to us on radio, TV, and livestream, that our priests are “on duty,” and available in careful, safe ways, for the sacraments of penance, anointing of the sick, baptisms, marriages and funerals in small, private controlled situations.
Not the same, though, is it? We all realize that.
With Holy Week, Easter, Confirmations, First Holy Communions, weddings, ordinations, religious professions and anniversaries all on the horizon, we’re all especially eager for the communal life of the Church through worship and the sacraments to kick back in. We’re poised to do that the moment we’re advised it’s safe. Thanks for your patience.
For now, though, can we rejoice in the swelling chorus chanting throughout the planet, “We want Mass! We need the Sacraments! We love them! We miss them!”