Masses are being cancelled.
Catholics are suddenly unable to receive the Eucharist – and in certain places, even Confession.
It comes as a hard blow.
When I mention how sad this makes me on social media, many people respond by trying to “put it in perspective.”
They expound on the fact that the cancellation will save lives.
They bring up the point that many Catholics throughout history – and even today – have been unable to attend Mass regularly or receive the Eucharist for great lengths of time.
They brush it off by saying: just watch Mass online.
I understand all that. I understand that the bishops are trying their best to make prudent decisions for their flock. I understand that we must accept and be obedient to their guidance.
But we just lost the Sacraments.
It’s okay to feel sorrow.
It’s okay to cry at the loss of Holy Communion, Eucharistic Adoration, Reconciliation.
The Eucharist is the center of Catholic life. It’s the source and summit of our faith.
To go without it is no trivial matter.
If you find yourself in tears, don’t let others tell you it’s wrong to sorrow. Don’t feel guilty because others are trying to minimize your pain.
It’s alright to grieve such a big loss. It’s natural to mourn. It’s okay to allow yourself to enter into the sadness welling up in your heart.
A life without the Eucharist has a gaping hole in it.
And that hole is going to hurt.
As time stretches on, and we don’t know how long it will be before we’re allowed to go to Mass and Confession again, our yearning will expand – or it will wane.
We will grow passionate in our desire, or we will grow tepid in our indifference.
This pandemic may be a turning point in our lives.
When the Eucharist is denied us, we may begin to see just how precious it is to us. We may realize just how centrally our lives revolve around it. How it strengthens and upholds us.
Let us feel its loss deeply.
Let us look forward to the day when we may receive him again.
Matthew 9:15 says: “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
The bridegroom is taken from us this Lent.
It is time to fast.
We are in the desert. We hunger for him.
Let that hunger grow. Let us renew our Lenten fasts. Let the holes in our temporal lives reflect the hole in our spiritual lives.
And as those holes continue to grow, invite the Holy Spirit into the chasm. Let him lead us, guide us, change our lives.
Let this be a moment of conversion.
A moment that begins a new stage of life for us.
1. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.
Let the Holy Spirit speak. Spend time sitting and listening to his voice.
What is it he desires of you? How does he wish to satisfy you? How will he transform your life?
2. Consider the void.
Do you deeply feel the loss of Holy Mass?
Maybe he is calling you to never miss Sunday Mass by your own fault again. Maybe he desires you to commit yourself to daily Mass once a week.
Do you feel you may not survive without the Eucharist?
Maybe he is calling you to more frequent reception of the Sacrament. Maybe he invites to you pledge yourself to daily Spiritual Communion.
Are you weighed down by your sins, and do not have access to Confession?
Maybe he is calling you to more frequent reconciliation – monthly, or weekly. Maybe he longs for you to make a daily examination of conscience.
Be honest with yourself about the spiritual voids that are most affecting you right now. Allow yourself to feel that loss with the depths of your soul.
Invite God into the void. Give him permission to change Your life through your current suffering.
Seek what he desires of you. He will show you if you ask him.
3. Make resolutions.
Let God change your heart. Let him change your life.
Make the resolutions he inspires within you. Look forward with hope to the day when the restrictions on the Sacraments are lifted.
And be prepared, on that day, to begin living the new life he’s calling you to.
When the bridegroom is returned to us, we will feast again with great joy.
And, if we allow it, our lives will be forever changed.
God can bring good out of all things.
I can’t imagine much worse than a life without the Sacraments.
Yet, many live this way for much of their lives.
Where Catholicism is illegal and persecutions are rampant, people go great lengths of time without the Sacraments, and even risk their lives to receive them.
Here, in our cushy American lives, we get to experience a small taste of this loss.
May we allow God to bring about a good as great as the suffering we feel.
May we be more fervent, more faithful Catholics on the other side of this pandemic.
May we be more frequent Communicants.
May we rely more regularly on Confession.
May we remember the centrality and necessity of the Sacraments in our lives.
My friends, don’t let naysayers tell you not to grieve.
Let yourself feel sorrow.
Let yourself cry.
Your hurt at this loss is very real.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. Let us attach our hearts more surely to it during our time of separation.
And may we never take the attendance of Mass, the reception of Holy Communion, and the forgiveness of our sins in Reconciliation for granted again.
I am beginning to see extensions on Mass cancellations.
On Tuesday, I saw the first announcement that Masses are being cancelled through Holy Week and Easter in certain dioceses.
On Thursday, an update on social media showed that every diocese in the United States has suspended pubic Masses.
My heart continues to break.
I want to share a few resources with you that may help you draw closer to Christ during these difficult times:
- Catholic Trivia: Lent
- The 5 Minute Sacrifice For Lent
- Tweak Your Holy Week: 5 Simple Ideas
- When Lent Punches You in the Gut
A Book for Your Holy Week
If you are (or may) without Mass for Holy Week, I have something that may bring you comfort and help you draw close to Jesus during this difficult time.
I wrote this prayer journal, Walking Holy Week with Jesus, several years ago. It’s a daily prayer journal that begins on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, and goes through Easter Sunday.
It has Scripture readings, powerful reflections, prayers, and deep reflection questions for each day of this most Holy Week.
Right now, I feel like God put this project on my heart years ago for this ONE purpose: so that it would be available for you in this time of need.
Please know, I’m not trying to use your loss for my personal gain.
I’m not a doctor, or a policy maker, or a bishop in charge of tough decisions.
I’m just a mom. And a writer.
And sharing my writing is the only way I know how to help.
I pray that these journals help you through this loss, and provide hope until the Sacraments are returned to us.
The Walking Holy Week with Jesus prayer journal is available in print. But with the pandemic, I also decided to offer a discounted digital version, as well as licensing for parishes to purchase a digital copy to distribute to their parishioners.
- Walking Holy Week with Jesus (physical journal)
- Walking Holy Week with Jesus (DIGITAL journal)
- Walking Holy Week with Jesus (DIGITAL parish pack)
Learn more about the Walking Holy Week with Jesus Prayer journal.