Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, April 25, 2020


I have to tell you all something. This past Sunday, I went to Mass and received communion.

I don't know why I should have kept it so quiet, except that I know so few people had the same privilege. And I know that until recently, I myself would probably have been resentful about hearing that from someone else, as if they were getting one over on the rest of us stuck at home. But I was asked to sing with a small choir for our livestreamed parish mass to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, and so I went.

I did not feel overwhelmed with joy or sadness or nostalgia or deep spiritual fervor. I was glad to be in church again, and I was delighted to see my parish priest in person and to talk to the few others there. But we were there not to be served, but to serve. Livestreaming is not like being in person. The sound is less forgiving. Everything has to be more precise. You have to be much clearer and crisper than on an ordinary Sunday. And you don't know when the camera might be on you (though you have a good idea), so you always have to be on. In a sense, it wasn't much different from being on stage, where the wisdom is, "Someone is always looking at you." But it's not like being on stage either, because the camera is much closer. I sang the psalm, and I wasn't sure where to look or how to project. (I went back and watched a few seconds on YouTube and couldn't bear to see any more, so if I got better after a nervous start, I'll never know.) Our parish tech guy is amazing and has been improving the quality of the filming each week by strategic repositioning of the two cameras to catch the mass from several angles. It was an honor to watch the complicated tech ballet to ensure that the people watching had the best view possible.

And what was it like, after weeks of fasting, to receive the Eucharist?

It simply was. I wished I'd been able to go to Confession beforehand, but, particularly as it was Divine Mercy Sunday, I had the strong conviction that Jesus only saw me, not my sins. Before I received, I prayed for everyone, but everyone on earth, and offered the Eucharist for the entire Body of Christ, whose representative I was privileged to be. And then I consumed the Eucharist and knelt in thanksgiving just like any other Sunday.

The next day, I watched our parish's daily Mass, and the spiritual experience of watching was no different from being there in person. In each case, the physical circumstances of attending Mass were a result of obedience -- obedience in being asked by the bishops to stay home; obedience in being asked to attend and serve. God did not bestow great consolations on me at Mass in person; he did not deprive me of anything by participating from home, praying the prayer of spiritual communion, and watching our tech guy receive communion on our behalf.

But if you received any graces during the week, I hope it was a sharing in the grace of the Eucharist I offered for you.


Bernard Brandt said...

If I were given to envy, Mrs. Darwin, I would probably envy you.

I, too, have the opportunity of singing at my little church at the end of the world, any time that they are doing streaming services.

But I'm living with my brother, who is currently with stage 4 small cell lung cancer, is on a regimen of both radiation and chemo, and probably will be for the remainder of his life. In consequence, he is immune compromised for the duration.

And I pick up ANY nasty bug (let alone this #$%^! Wu Flu), and give it to him, I am likely to kill him as a result.

So I guess I am out of church for the duration.

So it goes.

This is not meant to 'harsh your mellow', as the young 'uns are wont to say. It is simply to say that some of us do not have the opportunities that you do. Don't let that fact keep you from taking those opportunities. But please, pray for those of us who don't.

I rejoice that you can do this. I, alas, can't.

Anna said...

It did occur to me at some point in recent weeks that the Mystical Body of Christ means that you're exactly right: those who can receive are thereby receiving for all of us. So I am not as cut off as I sometimes feel; a few people do continue to go to Mass and they are to be the conduit of that food for all of us. Thank you for your awareness of that and prayers for all those who could not be there!