We have just passed six months of coronavirus lockdown. It is taking its toll. I mourn those who have died from the virus — and those who have fallen ill — including three priests and one deacon from our diocese. But the lockdown itself has caused damage: ruined the economy, taken away jobs, destroyed businesses, closed schools, halted travel, and for us Catholics, interrupted our life of worship and community.
Most damaging of all on the spiritual level, the coronavirus has deprived us of the opportunity to enter our churches, kneel down, participate in the Eucharist, and receive Holy Communion in the normal way.
The truth is, for us Catholics, the Eucharist is the essence of the parish community. Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theologians have long taught, “The Eucharist makes the Church, and the Church makes the Eucharist.”
As Catholics, we simply cannot live without it.
We have adapted as best we can under the circumstances in our desire to serve you, while preserving your safety. Even the Pope celebrated daily live-stream Mass without a congregation, and conducted all his Holy Week and Easter services with only a dozen people present. Although understandable in a time of Eucharistic famine, our temporary rites of “drive-through” Communion, live-stream Mass without a congregation, or distributing Communion outside of Mass are not a substitute for real, live, actual participation of the priest and community offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
That is what makes this all so painful.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, issued a letter to all bishops of the Church this week urging a return to normal worship, as soon as it is safe to do so. I agree. The Cardinal stated: “As soon as circumstances permit, however, it is necessary and urgent to return to the normality of Christian life, which has the church building as its home and the celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, as ‘the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; and at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows’ (Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).”
Full story at The Catholic Voice.