Two weeks ago, I went to a public Mass in a Catholic church in Washington, D.C., for what would probably be the last for a few weeks. It was daily Mass, Friday at 12:10 p.m., and I was profoundly saddened as I genuflected and entered the pew. Asking God to open my heart and mind to hear His words, the tears erupted in an unexpected wave of emotion as I realized I wouldn’t be doing this in this place for a while.
Have I missed Mass before? Yep. Of my own free will, I have turned just one more hit of the snooze button into a justification for not showing up. The “I’ll go to the later Mass” is a favorite of mine, indicating just how complacent I am about the abundance of options I’ve had to attend Mass on any given Sunday where I live. To be honest, the procrastination around going to the later Mass indicates something even more shallow — it smacks of an attitude of “Jesus can wait; He will be there waiting for me when I get around to it.” And some days, I never do.
So, why the tears on this day? Because someone else made the choice for me about when I can go to Mass now and receive Jesus. My choice, for better or worse, is no longer mine, just at a time when I need it the most. Yes, I know it is for a short period of time. Yes, I understand and accept that it is for a greater good. But it still feels surreal. For the first time in my life, I am experiencing what so many Catholics around the world experience on a regular basis: no access to Mass or the Eucharist.
Receiving Jesus in my hands was difficult (it feels odd to me), but, again, abundance of caution kept me from being too scrupulous about it. Back in the pew, kneeling and praying, I was once again overcome with a deep sadness as the reality of it all sunk in. No Eucharist for a while. How will Jesus be truly present in me without it? What does that even look like?
Immediately after Mass, we had Stations of the Cross. Walking that road with Jesus and His Blessed Mother is powerful for me. The Sixth Station, where he meets Veronica, always gives me pause, as I reflect on the question: Would I have done what she did?
Because I know how the story ends, I’d like to think I would, assured that I would eventually be with Jesus in Heaven one day. But Veronica didn’t know how it would all end. What must she have been feeling seeing Jesus going away forever, by someone else’s choice? All she could do in that moment was hand him her veil, which probably cost her everything. Yet give it to him she did — to ease his burden. To show love. To show she believed in Him as He was led away.
What veil, then, will I offer Jesus during this short time I, like Veronica, am apart from Him? What can I give to show Him I love him and that I believe in Him even when I can’t receive Him? Here are my veils:
I am three weeks into The Miraculous 54-day Novena and, uncharacteristically, I am sticking to the schedule and praying, not saying, it faithfully.
Checking in and offering to be of service to neighbors and friends who cannot go out at this time is an actionable step I will take to keep me focused on others. Too much time focused on me is never a good thing.
Tackling my stack of spiritual reading and immersing myself in the Word has long been on my heart. Now seems like the time to make it happen.
Adoration and confession are available at my parish during what would normally be Mass times, so putting aside my procrastinating tendencies, I will make them a priority.
Most importantly, I will unite my brief time of suffering with my sisters and brothers in Christ whose regular experience is not receiving the Eucharist. As St. John of the Cross reminds us, “Never give up on prayer and should you find dryness and difficulty, persevere in it for this very reason. God often desires to see what love your soul has, and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.”
Of course, the real test in all of these changes will come once the churches resume normal Mass schedules. Will I sink back into old habits, or (please God!), will I run to Him every chance I get?
Copyright 2020 Laura K. Roland
Originally posted at CatholicWomeninBusiness.org