By KATHY GALLO
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
During the pandemic, many of us have deeply missed celebrating Mass together. This time has awakened that desire to come together in our common need for God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. It has made us realize that maybe we have taken for granted attending Mass every Sunday and actually rubbing elbows with people.
We have, and maybe still are, experiencing what other countries have experienced for years. Due to distance and a shortage of priests, there are many who do not have the luxury of attending Mass in their village each week. We are reminded as Catholics of our universal, catholic connection to people around the globe in our common discipleship, nourished in the celebration of the Eucharist. We would be remiss if we did not reflect on how this experience has impacted the practice of our Catholic faith. A few thoughts on this reflection.
The power of Scripture
Many times, as Catholics, we have been accused of not understanding or appreciating Scripture. This has changed greatly over the years; and during this difficult time, Scripture has become even more essential in revealing Jesus’ message to us in the present moment, the graciousness of God in all time and Scripture as the voice of the Holy Spirit.
It is exciting that families and individuals are preparing for Sunday by reading together the Gospel and other readings. Scripture is the living Word of God and shapes who we are when we listen carefully, interact with the message and look for concrete ways to live a life rooted in God and as a disciple of Jesus. Jesus is fully present in Scripture as proclaimed at Mass. The homily is prepared to flesh out the call of Scripture and to inspire us on the journey. In all instances, Jesus is fully present in the presider at Mass. How can we continue to read and pray with the Scriptures as a guide for our lives?
The grace of community
Never in any of our lifetimes have we experienced a time of such caution and restriction in coming together. We have missed those times of gathered celebration, the fish fries, parish socials, donuts and coffee after Mass, seeing friends and parishioners, talking face-to-face, parish faith formation. Socialization, community, is essential to our health and growth as people and especially as disciples. Jesus is fully present in the assembly at Mass.
The liturgy teaches us that when we encounter each other we are encountering Jesus. We are reminded that, as Catholics, we are a universal church and that all people are our brothers and sisters. It is not easy sometimes to think about those people who think or act differently than us as being our brothers and sisters. But that is the message of Jesus. We are to love one another and to treat one another as we would like to be treated. What are some ways that we can reach out to the lonely and hurting at this time?
The Eucharist as transformation
Jesus is fully present in the sacrament of communion, in the Eucharist. As Catholics, we believe that we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus at Mass and in real-time. We experience the profound transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. We experience the transformation of our broken bodies and lives into the Body of Christ. St. Augustine reminds us to “become what we receive” and to take Christ to all we meet.
We are a Eucharistic people, empowered, enlivened and energized by Jesus’ real presence in our lives. This particular moment in time is a call to be a liturgical people and to live the liturgical year by contemplating the Scriptures, connecting with our parish in whatever way we can and living Eucharist by being Christ for others and seeing Christ in others.
“It is so little, so unspectacular, yet, so hidden, this Eucharistic life, but it is like yeast, like a mustard seed, like a smile on a baby’s face. It is what keeps faith, hope, and love alive in a world that is constantly on the brink of self-destruction” (Henri Nouwen).