With masses suspended throughout the world, it is tempting for many of our faithful brothers and sisters to become disheartened and feel abandoned by our Church. Yet, in the eyes of faith, we know, we believe and we trust that God has never left us and never will. He remains at our side even when we are too distraught and blinded by the chaos around us to see Him. God calls us near, gently reminding us that when we keep our sights on Him we will not fall. Ask Peter, he knows (Matt.14:22-33)!
So what can we do, then, when the source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist (LG 11), gifted to us in the Holy Mass is abruptly but temporarily taken away from us? How can we continue to be in communion with God and with our beloved Church?
Live Stream Masses Online and Make an Act of Spiritual Communion
When circumstances prevented them from participating in the Sacred Liturgy, many Saints like Thérèse of Lisieux would make an act of spiritual communion, a prayer that unites oneself to God and to the sacrifice of the mass. We know of the centurion who believed that Jesus could heal his servant and friend with a simple command from afar (Luke 7:1-10). We have heard about the hemorrhaging woman who needed only to touch the cloak of Jesus to be freed from the bonds of this illness (Mark 5:25-34). As such, we must trust in God’s wondrous power to make the impossible possible.
It is our faith that provides God the space to work miracles in our lives and so, when we give of ourselves completely to God and invite Him to be in communion with us, we must affirm our belief that God can remain within us even when we are unable to receive Him in the Eucharist.
Attend mass remotely. You can find daily and weekend masses here: http://www.catholictv.org/masses/catholictv-mass or search for live stream masses recorded by your own Diocese or local parish on YouTube.
Then, while the congregation in your remote mass is receiving communion, you can make an act of spiritual communion by saying the following prayer by Pope Francis or something similar:
“My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.”
Take a Rosary Walk Around Your House
The rosary is one of the greatest treasures in our Catholic faith that gives us the opportunity to reflect on the life of Jesus and our Holy Mother. When you are cooped inside, a rosary walk around your home or backyard is a great way to break up the monotony of the day, get some fresh air and even a bit of exercise. Let everything you see throughout your prayer walk be a moment to praise, ponder, and thank God. Do you see food on the kitchen counter? Dedicate a decade of your rosary for the poor in your community. Do you see a bird flying near the tree of your home? Pray for those who must risk traveling to get home to their families. Do you see your kids running around you? Thank God for giving them the gift of life and you the precious gift of raising them. In this way, you are being present to all the ways God has blessed you and also, keeping in mind all those who are in need of your prayers.
Make Time for Spiritual Reading
Now is the time to dust off some of the spiritual books you have on your shelves if you have any and if you don’t, to acquire some! Read a chapter of the Bible, the life of a Saint, a book of meditations or anything else that raises your heart and mind to God. Before you begin reading, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and to help you hear how God may be speaking to you through the words you read. Remember, God can speak to us through His Word in Sacred Scripture and through works that are inspired by Him. Let your time of reading be one that helps you grow in understanding, wisdom and love of the One who loves us most!
Meditate on Sacred Art
I absolutely love gazing at the Sacred Art on the walls, stain glass and ceilings of our church. Although we are unable to enter our parishes at this time, we can still use the Sacred Art we have in our homes or print/purchase the ones we find online to draw us deeper into prayer. One such pieces in our own home is that of a statue of the Holy Family- Mother Mary cradles Baby Jesus in her arms as St. Joseph stands staff in one hand and with a protective embrace around Mary on the other. It rests on our family altar in the middle of the living room.
When I am in need of His peace, I feast my eyes on this holy image and let their saintly lives envelop me. Joseph has been told in a dream that King Herod desires to kill the child. In consequence, he is to take Mary and the Baby Jesus and flee to Egypt (Matt. 2:13-15). Joseph obeys, and this is that pivotal moment erected before me. The life of the Holy Family was filled with great suffering. Yet, they persevered. They believed. They had faith that God would guide and protect them, and indeed, He had!
Sacred Art, like spiritual reading, lifts our thoughts to God and reminds us of who we are before Him- His child whom He loves without end. What Sacred Art moves you? What Sacred Art helps you feel more connected to God? Place it on your home altar and use it to fuel your time of prayer.
Embrace Your Crosses
I find it fitting that we are being deprived from what we hold most dear during this season of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Lent is a season of sacrifice, of giving ourselves ever more so to Jesus who gives of Himself completely to us on the Cross. Why not, then, use this time of isolation and of separation from God in the Eucharist as an opportunity to demonstrate our faithfulness and devotion? To take every cross and suffering, no matter how small, and unite it with Jesus in His Passion? To lift up and offer the pain we experience from being far apart from our family, friends and church community to Christ in prayer and for love of Him? God yearns for us. He thirsts for us, and what we are experiencing now is but a small taste of what God continually suffers for us and for the world.
May this season of Lent and separation from our community draw us deeper into the mystery of God’s great love for us!