The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10: 11-12).
In the past several months, the Mass and other Church activity – not only here, but across the globe – had been largely inaccessible to the faithful. Masses had not been available publicly, and in some places, no sacraments at all. Live streaming of Mass wasn’t the same physically or spiritually as being in the Real Presence of Christ, and being in union with Him through the Eucharist.
The possibility of a scenario like this had been unimaginable throughout the 2,000-year history of the Church. But early this year, cardinals and bishops worldwide had to grapple with a widespread health risk.
The faithful greatly missed being in the Real Presence of the Lord at the Sacrifice of the Mass, and in communal presence with each other
In our state, though the governor exempted religious institutions from the stay-at-home order from the start, public Masses were nevertheless suspended.
Our continued access to the Sacrament of Confession at several local churches, however, felt like a rare privilege. People stood silently in long, spread-out lines, to bring Christ their anguish and brokenness, and ultimately hear those relieving words of Absolution from the priest – in persona Christi – “I absolve you from your sins … .” More people were coming, their mood pensive, their focus resolute. Those of all ages and backgrounds filed in, some wearing makeshift masks, during the daily Confession hour. Because suddenly there was time – but an unspoken sense of urgency.
We asked a few local priests if we might attend their private Masses. Only one replied. We had been able to slip into the church a few days per week while he said Mass in Latin. At most, there were three to five others in the huge, empty church. There was no distribution of the Eucharist; it was not yet allowed. But Christ was there, and we came.
This same priest notified parishioners he’d be doing a mobile Exposition of the Eucharist on a mid-May Sunday through several townships. Some 175 parish families signed up for the drive-by – during which he’d bless their families and their homes. Father arranged an altar with flowers adorning the monstrance (and himself, in spectacular red and gold vestments) in the flatbed of a pickup truck. The entire route mapping, email notifications, and logistics were facilitated by a fellow parishioner (a Bucks County Chapter Legate) – who drove the truck.
People dropped to their knees in front lawns as Father slowly faced them with The Real Presence in the gold monstrance, while chant music played. Some had signs saying “Welcome Jesus”; others cried in joy and disbelief. At an intersection, a self-identified Jewish woman opened her car window to thank Father for what he was doing. The clouds broke and Father picked up a blazing sunburn, devoting a 10-hour Sunday to bringing Christ out to His heartsick flock.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.