Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s official; I can’t wait to have you all back in person for Mass. And yet at the same time, I have experienced in my own prayer a constant reminder from the Lord of the value of every single Mass, even those offered without a congregation. As concerns about containing the spread of this virus keep us home and separated by at least 6 feet, we also experience a real separation from the Eucharist. Though we can see Mass on TV or online and can unite our prayers in a very real way with the priest and with all those who are also watching, obviously it is not the same as being there in person. Given our unusual circumstances, I’d like to suggest some ideas to keep in mind as we participate in Mass remotely.
- Prayerfully offer this separation from Mass for the intention of growing in appreciation of the Holy Sacrifice. We can easily take for granted the access we have to the Mass. Let us ask God to inspire in our hearts a more profound appreciation for this tremendous gift!
- Remember to whom the Mass is directed. Mass is never about us – it is not about the priest saying the Mass, it is not about the congregation assembled, it’s not about our feelings or our preferences – the Mass is the prayer of the whole Church throughout the world directed to God and God alone. Whenever and wherever Mass is being celebrated, the whole Church (on earth and in heaven!) is present to worship God in spirit and in truth. It is the Church’s prayer of praise and through it God comes to His people, and we are privileged to stand as witness.
- Treasure the salutary effects of Mass. Witnessing the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has an effect on each individual. Though Mass is directed to God, we who gather at the altar still benefit from this worship. The effect of Mass on us is first, our own growth in holiness. Second, we see ourselves tangibly in union with our brothers, sisters, and neighbors, and by extension, with the whole Church spread throughout the world. Third, when we are able to receive the Eucharist, we are united in a profound, personal way with our Savior. Fourth, the Mass reminds us that our faith is not in the things of this world, that we truly step out of our ordinary existence and into something extraordinary, something heavenly.
- Offer the suffering of not being at Mass. I know that many of you are pained by not being able to attend Mass. This is a pain shared by your priests (not just here at St. Pius, but all over the place!). This genuine suffering can fuel our prayer. Pray for our world and for protection from the coronavirus. Pray for those who are suffering its effects, pray for those on the front lines in fighting it, pray for those who have died.
- Learn more about the Mass. Yes, it is true that experience is the best teacher. But the inability to have an in-person experience of the Mass is a powerful opportunity to learn about the Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church treats the Eucharist at length. You may also enjoy “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn or “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” by Brant Pitre. Many other great teachings on the Mass can be found at st-pius.formed.org where you can create your own free account.
Please know in this time that you are remembered every single day at the altar. Fr. Tim and I are praying for you and your families! To help you stay connected to the Mass, we are celebrating daily Mass at 8:30 AM and live-streaming it on Facebook. Additionally, we will offer a low Mass in the Extraordinary Form at noon, which will also stream on Facebook. At 5 PM, we’ll stream the Rosary and encourage you to pray along with your families. Our weekend Mass schedule remains unchanged, and each of those Masses will be streamed. If you don’t have Facebook, the videos do post to our website (www.st-pius.org) after Mass ends. We’re working on other options for livestreaming and hope to have an alternative for you soon! My prayer in this week is that our love for the Mass and for the Eucharist might grow, and that our anticipation of being together again around the altar might fuel our continued spiritual growth and trust in God’s providential care!
Peace, Fr. Sam