We begin Holy Week. It is a different Holy Week from anything we have ever celebrated. This week brings all of our faith life into focus, so if there is any time to be connected to our faith, it is this week. Our current lockdown presents a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is that it is so hard to connect and so easy to disconnect. Some are not even looking at calendars, just checking to see if they have milk and bread. The opportunity is that we can approach it from a different angle than we ever have before, which will enable us to see it with new eyes and get a deeper insight and connection than we had before.
The diocese has given us directions for celebrating the liturgies of Holy Week. We are to celebrate with no more than 10 people gathered (that includes the priest), and only those who have ministries at that liturgy. We will be attempting to livestream the celebrations for everyone who can watch.
The first thing to recognize is this is unfair. Unfortunately, there has been a lot that has been unfair about this from the beginning. I have been very much aware that I have been able to celebrate Mass and receive Holy Communion every day, while my parishioners have not been able to participate. That has been humbling, and it has given me a great sense of responsibility. If I am doing this for the whole parish, I’d better be focused and pray hard. Many have had to grieve for lost events and participation.
As things have been changing week by week, this has made communication a challenge. We are finding the internet more important than ever. I think when this business is over, we shall be better at using it, and that will be a useful thing. I think we will also have an increased sense of the importance of being physically present to other people, and how valuable it is to be together (the old-fashioned way). This also makes more serious those who do not have internet access and those who have limited access. Our dependence on the internet during this time has left a number of people out. We shall have to find a way to connect to those people as best as we can.
This has been an opportunity to reflect on what is truly important. We see we can do without a lot of things, but there are some that really matter. Many have been experiencing in a new way that the people whom we love and who love us are more precious than we often realize, and many are learning they have been taking them for granted. We have also been getting a better sense on how we are connected, and how we affect one another.
As people have been deprived of Eucharist, this has been a time to consider how precious it is, how amazing it is, how easy it has been to take it for granted. It would be a good time to renew and deepen our understanding of and love for the Eucharist. During this time, watching Presence and Lectio Eucharist on Formed will be very helpful. As we are getting a reminder of the power of the presence of other people, we can reflect on the power of God being present to us and giving Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament, as well as how we can be more present to Him and more fully give ourselves to Him. Jesus promises it brings an intimacy with Him beyond our understanding (He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him [John 6:56].”) None of us treat this as it deserves to be treated. That is not a criticism; it is a given with our fallen, limited understanding. Is there anything more worthwhile than growing in this?
As we go through Holy Week, let us notice how this central part of our story pivots around the Last Supper.