For the past two months, we have born the challenge of renewing our sense of what Jesus’ call to remain in His Love means from the vantage of church closures and quarantine. Seeking ways to live a sacramental life within the confines of our homes with both the gift of on-line Masses but also in the other ways we have found to meet the Risen Christ from our own upper rooms.
Remain in my Love. As a Catholic, the experience of His Love, Mercy and Grace is so deeply, tangibly sacramental. How do we hold this space in a time that has ruptured the only ways we have ever known? As part of this faith community, I can’t help but ponder what we have lost and what has been gained. We may be sorting through this for a while.
In the earliest moments of church closures and quarantine, I remember wondering if I would fully understand what would be lost in not being able to receive the Eucharist. In those early days, I most acutely felt the loss of our Lord as I stood outside the locked doors of a church, with the altar and tabernacle no longer in view. In my heart, I knew it was not just an empty building but one filled with His Presence. Moving closer to Holy Week, I felt an invitation to respond to Jesus’ call to remain with Him, in the only way I knew how. To stand, and sit, outside those doors and pray. Each day. I was participating in on-line Mass yet it was here that I felt His Presence most deeply. No longer able to receive Him tangibly on the hand or tongue.
Throughout my lifetime it is in the entering of a church and sitting in front of the tabernacle where I have gone to pray the prayers that mattered most. Confident in the comfort of His very real Presence. How strange to live in a time when we are asked to move away. Doors locked in many dioceses as if an empty building.
I am drawn to the Mystery of a belief in the Presence of Christ so strong that someone would run into a burning building or in the midst of war to save the consecrated hosts in a tabernacle. Each story reflecting what we believe. That this is true and beyond important to us. This is our Lord. I remember the relief in the Notre Dame fire in Paris. So much of the world speaking of the cathedral as a great space of art, a city icon. The pastor speaking out to reclaim this space for what it is. This is a parish, a sacramental church and in a chaplain’s action of going inside the burning church to secure the consecrated hosts, this is Our Lord, present always in the Eucharist. Even as the world shifts drastically around us candles continue to flicker inside churches next to each tabernacle throughout the world proclaiming the Presence of our Triumphant Lord.
There have been some beautiful stories during the quarantine of outwardly making His Presence known. A bishop standing at the top of a mountain range in the wind holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people in the valleys below. The priest who stood on the back of a pickup truck driven through his parish neighborhood holding the monstrance on Easter Sunday as people gathered on driveways. The priest who placed the Blessed Sacrament in the window of the church so people could come and pray.
With all the uncertainty and challenges that lie ahead, may we never lose sight of the tangible, physical, real Presence of Christ, that visibly proclaims –
God is with us!
M.J. Walsh is a member of the Passionist Family with a heart of deep gratitude for the Passionist community and prayers for vocations.