As of recent, all Catholic Churches in the US have been closed due to COVID-19, leaving us without mass for almost a month during the Lenten and Easter seasons.
When I first received this news, I was devastated. It was easy to feel even more stuck at home and restricted in my faith. During my time of personal prayer, I found myself asking the question, “Why would God allow the Coronavirus to hold us back from receiving Him in the Eucharist and coming to praise Him? Why, when in time of trial would He not want us to come to receive what He has to offer us in Holy Mass?”
Then it hit me- maybe this time of fasting from receiving the Body of Christ is meant to deepen our longing and relationship with Him. Maybe this is meant to help us realize we might not be taking seriously the gift of being able to receive our Lord. Maybe God sees this as necessary to bring us to a place where we recognize His goodness and how He provides in ways even outside the Mass.
During this time of fasting from the Body of Christ, I challenge you to take it as an opportunity to form a deeper desire for Him and be open to Him working in your life in new ways. As an aid, I have created a list of 5 different things you may do in place of going to Mass.
1) SPIRITUAL COMMUNION
When we are unable to receive the Eucharist, we may receive a Spiritual Communion instead. We receive Spiritual Communion when we form a desire in our hearts to receive Him in the Eucharist before a Holy Mass. While during this time we are unable to attend a Mass, there are many who stream it live, or record it for you to watch that day. Listed below are a few online sources you may use to watch the Holy Mass, or you may try looking up your own parish to see if they offer an online streaming. I also have listed a prayer for an act of Spiritual Communion below.
Prayer for Spiritual Communion may be found: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/act-of-spiritual-communion-339
2) GOD’S WORD
Taking time to read God’s Word (especially the Gospels and Psalms) is a great way to receive nourishment from God. If you don’t know where to start, going online to look up the readings for the day is a great option. I personally love to read with Scripture because it’s God’s living Word, and He speaks to your heart right in that moment so you can learn more about God and yourself. During this time of trial, you may also find much comfort in God’s Word speaking truth into your life and instilling a deeper desire for His goodness into your heart.
God calls us to community. While we are limited in our social contact, there are still ways we may be in contact with others around us without spreading anything. Reaching out to friends and family via call or text to check in, or sending kind words of encouragement to someone can really go a long way. We have so many tools of being able to communicate, this is a perfect time to use them! The devil wants us to think we have to be isolated and alone, for it is there that we may feel unseen and weak, yet the truth is you are never alone. God, for one, is always with you and He gifts us with people in our lives He may love us through.
4) ROSARY/DIVINE MERCY CHAPLET/STATIONS OF THE CROSS
God has gifted us with so many ways to pray. The rosary is said to be a powerful weapon against the devil. What a perfect prayer to pray while we are amidst such trial! Meditating on the mysteries of the rosary is a lovely way to recognize all Christ has done for us and can continue to do for us.
The Divine Mercy chaplet is a beautiful prayer especially for those souls of sinners; we may find directing our prayer to the victims of the Coronavirus to be useful. We pray with the Stations of the Cross to contemplate the Passion of Christ. It really helps form a deeper appreciation for all Christ did for us, especially being in the season of Lent. You may find these prayers below.
Divine Mercy Chaplet: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/chaplet-of-the-divine-mercy-387
Stations of the Cross: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/stations-of-the-cross-12706
5) THE LITTLE THINGS
I have come to be very fond of St Therese of Lisieux, who is known for her “littleness”. She is highly influential in her simplicity in life. In this time where many of us are forced to live more simplistic, it is good to step back and appreciate little things. I have found taking the time to love my family in front of me, doing random acts of kindness, reading spiritual books, or sitting in silence, to be more freeing and bringing me closer to God. I challenge you to join me in taking the little opportunities right in front of me to love deeper and simpler.
Where ever you all may be during this time of unprecedented global crisis, know that we are all united together as the Church through our prayers for each other and worship of God. Hopefully (very soon) I’ll see you in the Eucharist!