Monday, April 6, 2020

Gone MIssing

The one thing I hear the most from Catholics during this pandemic - shelter at home - how much they miss Holy Mass. In particular - receiving Holy Eucharist. It has been estimated that perhaps only one-third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In simple terms - that the Bread and Wine have in reality been turned into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Very few believe in transubstantiation - the changing of Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood. The majority treat communion as a - symbol - something representing Jesus. Unfortunately more Catholics believe in purgatory - than the Real Presence. Some think this has happened because almost all Catholics have Protestant friends whose belief in Communion is different from that as Catholics - communion - a symbol of Jesus. Thomas Aquinas is one of the first to use the term transubstantiation - when the "substance" of the Bread and Wine is changed into the "substance" of Jesus' Body and Blood. . This is called faith - when visible proof not available. It is interesting that believing in the Real Presence or not - does not make a difference in the fact that it is missed.  So for a few weeks we have been denied receiving communion - imagine when - according to Father Frank O'Dea SSS - Congregation of The Blessed Sacrament - a period from the fourth century on - Christians were reluctant to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. A new kind of vocabulary of awe and fear was attached to the sacred mysteries. This situation was not reversed in any significant way until the early twentieth century with the letter of Pius X urging frequent communion. By the thirteenth century the reception of communion had become so rare that the Church made a law that everyone must receive communion at least once a year. That such a law should be necessary indicates how poorly the Eucharist was understood at that time. Thankfully - through better catechesis - our understanding has improved such that a majority of Catholics now receive Communion almost weekly - some daily.  

Not being able to receive Communion - a special sacrifice for the faithful - pales in comparison to the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross. In our diocese - typically on this Monday - the bishop would bless the oils used during the liturgical year - Mass not happening as normal.  Social distancing - disrupting all liturgical celebrations during Holy Week.  As mentioned - our sacrifice small in comparison to what the entire world is experiencing.  The Blessing - Eucharist is still celebrated daily - our participation will return in time.  When that day does come - when we are able to once again attend Holy Mass - when we can once again be offered Holy Eucharist - we will be able to respond with our hearty - Amen!

Deacon Dale