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‘Celebrating’ the substantial ‘reopening’ of the Mass in local Catholic churches

June 11th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This is a very special weekend for those whose churches are substantially ‘reopening.’ They may never have ‘closed’ in the mind of the priests who said daily Mass without the faithful in the pews. But, regardless of the details of masks, mandatory distancing, 25% capacity restrictions,  or suspension for the time being of the obligation of Sunday worship, we are now going back inside the doors and worshiping Him from Whom all blessings flow. And, to be reconnected physically and liturgically to the Vine, is a very big moment.

It is too easy a reaction to simply wipe our 98.6 degree brows, and let out a big sigh behind the stuffy mask, that life is on the way to ‘returning to normal’, so “Let’s get on with life.” While true in one sense, nevertheless it is an opportunity for much more. It is an opportunity for gratitude — not gratitude to the state, the diocese, the activists, or the people who worked hard to adjust to changes on the fly as best they could. No, it is an opportunity, above all, to give thanks to a Good God who has not left us orphans. And if our family members and friends survived, especially the most vulnerable, that too is a reason for gratitude. It could have gone the other way, as it did for over 100,000 people in the U.S. Let what we suffered not be diminished by trying to recreate the prior normal, but rather let’s give thanks in ways which matter most to God, from deep in our hearts, looking past where we were to where we are going now. To just return to where we were is to miss the entire point of the opportunity God gave to us (and which many of us understandably received somewhat unwillingly) to use the blessing hidden in the pain.

In time, we may understand more of what has occurred, but the moment of gratitude may well have faded by then. What has happened did not occur without at least God’s permissive Will, even if we don’t yet know how it all fits in the Divine Plan. Gratitude helps to break open understanding, even if accompanied by a big OUCH!

The implication that gratitude is needed is shown in the holy ‘coincidence’ that our liberation weekend is that of Corpus Christi; i.e. the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It turns our perception around a bit to understand that much as we crave receiving the Holy Sacrament, Jesus yearns even more to come to us. What He has deprived us of receiving, He has also deprived Himself of giving. What does that mean for God, whose constrained love  is even more powerful than we can imagine? And what is He now asking of us? 

The name “Eucharist” gives us the clue. “Eucharisto” in the Greek means “I give thanks” and that is why this weekend’s feast of the Eucharist hints that perhaps the right approach for us is to give thanks, for the Eucharist above all, especially for those for whom receiving the Eucharist for the first time in weeks or months is a cherished reunion with our Beloved. There is no Catholic for whom receiving the Eucharist can’t be more that we already experienced prior to the shutdown. We have the opportunity to aspire to even more, to as much as the Lord is willing to entrust to us. And such aspiration is, in itself, gratitude.

There are some who even, prior to the shutdown, lost a deep Eucharistic connection in their souls. Sometimes, lack of ‘feeling’ or ’emotion’ makes a person think that is evidence that Christ isn’t really present in the consecrated host; but ‘belief’ is not a feeling or emotion. Some of those who report that they no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — deeply want to recover the experience of the holy and don’t know how to begin. One of the most beautiful expressions of gratitude which those souls could give right now is to quietly acknowledge what they have lost, and beg for a renewed ability to embrace the Divine Truth of the Eucharist. Christ often asks in the Gospels “What would you have Me do for you?” We must ask. And also it is good to ask the priest in confession to pray for us too.

How long does one persist in this effort? It would seem at least as long as the Eucharistic Fast to which we have just been subjected. A worthy effort (i.e. a way of ‘asking’) is to attend also at least one weekday Mass each week, as it is quite different from all the distractions of a Sunday Mass. One sign during such a time that we are on the right path is noticing, after maybe a few weeks, a personal increase in reverence toward receiving the Holy Eucharist.

We can all begin by being grateful for the ability to be grateful, especially for this divinely orchestrated reassembly on — of all times — the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is an invitation to all Catholics to ask for even more spiritually than we had previously. Gratitude opens the way.

 

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2 Responses to “‘Celebrating’ the substantial ‘reopening’ of the Mass in local Catholic churches”

  1. avatar Mary-Kathleen says:

    Notice on facebook:

    “Bishop Matano has released procedures for parishes to resume public Masses. The SKT-LMC [St. Kateri Tekakwitha Latin Mass Community] has formed a team to implement the necessary steps to resume public Masses at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.

    There will NOT be public Masses on June 14; Masses will continue to be streamed. It is our hope that public Masses can be resumed on June 21. Stay tuned here, on our web page, and email for announcements and instructions.”

  2. avatar christian says:

    Mass resumed at St. Alban Catholic Church (St. Cecilia site of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish) on the Feast of Corpus Christi – Deo gratitias!

    There was great attendance at the Mass. There were had some worshipers attending who normally go to the Latin Mass or another more traditionally Mass.

    1. Every other pew was roped off. An usher personally greeted worshipers, gave them printed materials, and seated them according to social distancing. Families and individuals were placed on opposite ends of a pew which was in between a pew roped off on either side.
    2. All Mass attendees were asked to wear a mask which they would provide themselves. They were asked to keep it on during the Mass, lowering it only to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.
    3. The priest, acolytes, and organist/cantor wore masks throughout the Mass as well as the parishioners.
    4. A stand with hand sanitizer was placed in the center aisle for communicants to sanitize their hands before approaching the kneeler placed in the center aisle. The kneeler was placed before the priest and acolytes.
    4. One of the acolytes sanitized the armrest on the kneeler frequently.
    5. The priest sanitized the hand he was using to administer Holy Communion (The Intinctured Host) on the tongue, in between parishioner communicants.
    6. The other acolytes assisted by holding the ciborium while the priest held a very small chalice/receptacle, assisted the priest in sanitizing his hand by holding a bowl and towel, and assisted the priest in distributing Holy Communion by holding a Communion paten.
    7. The church had been cleaned and all door knobs and handles were sanitized as well as the pews and bathroom facilities.
    8. Parishioners were asked to maintain social distancing coming in to Mass, coming up for Holy Communion, when processing in the Procession of the Holy Eucharist, and when leaving Mass.

    We had a beautiful Mass with special chants and many beautiful hymns centering on the Holy Eucharist. Among the hymns played, or played and sung, were “Sweet Sacrament” (Also known by Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All). Some of the hymns cannot be heard on the videotaped Mass posted on the website as the distribution of Holy Communion to parishioners, and also most of the procession, was edited out.

    Among the hymns sung for our Benediction and Procession of the Holy Eucharist were “O Salutarus Hostia,” and “Tantum Ergo.” (The Holy Eucharist was taken to an outside altar and canopy prepared for reception. Afterward, the Holy Eucharist was taken back to the inside the church in Procession and placed back inside the tabernacle on the altar.

    We sang the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the reopening of Public Masses, and we spoke the Divine Praises. After Mass had ended, we prayed the Prayer to St. Michael.

    People were filled with emotion as they saw fellow parishioners they hadn’t seen in person for 3 months. There were exuberant, warm welcomes spoken verbally outside of Mass.

    It was a glorious day and glorious occasion to have received Holy Communion on the Feast of Corpus Christi, after not having received Holy Communion for 3 months! It was a Mass that I will remember and hold deeply.

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