Guest post by Rachel Fiore.
Several months ago, I sat in the pews for 8 AM daily Mass. It was becoming routine for me to go to Mass when I didn’t work weekday mornings. But something struck me about that particular Mass.
I was bored.
It wasn’t a particularly boring Mass, it was just a regular, everyday kind of Mass. I knew the routine, I’d heard the prayers, and while a wild and wondrous miracle unfolded before my eyes—all of Heaven was kissing Earth! The invisible God was being made visible!—my eyes drooped and I yawned.
I was struck by this moment, because the reality of what was going on occurred to me even in my boredom and I marveled at God’s goodness. There He was—King of kings and Lord of lords—giving me the best gift that has ever or will ever be given: Himself.
He was, at that moment, pouring out everything He has for me, just like on Good Friday. And He is so generous that He offers me this great gift, which I am radically undeserving of, every single day. He so lavishes us in His love and goodness that we can experience it at 8 AM on a Tuesday and it feels… mundane. Yet still, He gives.
In my whole life, there has never been a time when the Eucharist was not available to me (ignoring some bad decisions on my own part). I am so free to go to Mass that I have begun to feel like it’s owed to me.
When the call was made in our diocese to postpone public Masses, I was shocked! Only hours before the word was out, I was at the church for Confession, and right as Mass was beginning, I went home, expecting to come back the next morning at 10:30 with my family. I had no idea I was walking away from my last chance to attend Mass until further notice.
My heart was broken. I was angry. How could this happen? How could something so essential to my life be taken away from me so abruptly?
At first, I’ll admit, I wasn’t convinced that this was the right call. Was this virus as bad as they say? Even if it was, shouldn’t we increase our prayer? Wouldn’t Mass be even more important in times such as these?
I know I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. I saw friends make the argument that our society had grown too modern and we just don’t take the Mass seriously anymore. I feared it was true.
However, I was not given the authority to make this decision. Instead, I’m asked to be obedient to those who do have that authority. So I listened to the arguments that public Mass should be postponed to protect the vulnerable in our society and life at all stages. Maybe those who say we’ve grown too modern have a point, but I think there are valid and important reasons to ask the faithful to stay home. We need both voices to make reasonable decisions, but in the end, the decision is not mine to make, and I have to allow the Spirit to work in His church.
Faced with this reality, there was something else I had to come to terms with: What would become of me if I was not receiving Jesus in the Eucharist? I struggle every day to be better, and I need Jesus in a big way.
As I write this, it’s been over six months since the last time I’ve fallen to a habitual sin I struggled with for many years. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without it, and the thought of being cooped up, bored, and lonely without being able to receive the sacraments seemed like the recipe for an inevitable relapse. I was just shy of terrified.
I woke up one night, certain I wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t go back to sleep to escape my thoughts of giving in, and so I did the only thing I could think to do: I started praying the Hail Mary again and again, until I could focus on prayer. Then I fell silent and Jesus comforted me. He reminded me that He is more powerful than my weakness, and that His grace is sufficient. I was no longer afraid.
Did I really think Jesus would be powerless to help me just because I couldn’t go to Mass? I admit, I think part of me did think that. But it was foolish. Of course, Jesus can sustain us here in our homes! He will not leave us orphaned just because we don’t have access to Mass right now.
Because Mass is so important and we’re so lucky to be in a place where we can attend whenever we want, I think we start to confuse Jesus with a multivitamin—we need to take Him in once a week in order for us to be healthy. But it doesn’t work like that.
We have been so privileged to have such easy access to Mass our whole lives (praise God!). Maybe Our Lord is using this time to draw us closer to Him in other ways. I keep hearing that I should use this time to allow my longing for the Eucharist to grow so I can truly appreciate it now, but I don’t think that only means allowing myself to feel the ache of separation; it means spending more time with Him in prayer and growing in love.
Can you imagine how much sweeter it will be to receive Jesus again if you use this time you’ve been given in the desert to grow close to Him despite this separation? Let’s find out together!
Perhaps one day, we’ll be lucky enough to be bored once more in Mass, but I hope that by then I’ll have a deeper prayer life to draw me into the reality of the miracle happening before me. I’ll remember what it was like to go without. Until then, let’s not wait to marvel at His goodness!
Rachel Fiore is a Catholic writer with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She went to school at San Jose State University and is currently living on the East Coast. Her writing interests include poetry, Catholicism, and the human condition.