Like the Deer That Yearns (Ps. 42:1)
Week five of “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing.”
O, how I miss all the people who normally are so much part of our lives. Our friends and benefactors, volunteers, the people who come to our door for sandwiches, the people we serve at the Fr. Benedict House.... The same with my family and my sisters and brothers in New York and in the Missions. The very fact that I can’t go and see them makes me miss them all the more. I think of them, I pray for them, speak with them on the phone, and I long to see them again.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” they say. Yes, my heart melts when I think of all the people I love. And as it melts, I realize that my love for them is growing, deepening, getting stronger. What a happy reunion it will be when the restrictions lift! How new and deep all these relationships will be.
How much more is this true of our love for Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Who would have ever thought that in our time, in this free country, we’d find ourselves unable to go to Mass? After all these weeks, I’m still in shock! Yes, we can watch livestreamed Masses, make spiritual Communions and be reminded that God dwells in our baptized souls. All vital things to do during this time. But it doesn’t take away our hunger for the Bread of Life. If anything, it only increases this longing…and this, I think, is a very good thing.
Next time this longing grips us, let’s not turn on the radio…let’s just sit in it. Let us let our hearts melt and realize that our love is growing, deepening, getting stronger.
Longing is a bit of an uncomfortable feeling at first. We tend to want instant gratification, and longing is accepting just the opposite of that. It is being present to the waiting.
Longing can take our impatience, anxiety, restlessness and frustration (and don’t we all experience these things during this time!) and turn them into something productive, something life-changing.
We are not alone when we long. Before long, we realize that the One we long for is longing for us more than we could ever long for Him.
Jesus longed to give Himself to us in the Eucharist (Lk 22:15).
“The Virgin Mother longed for Him with love beyond all telling” (Preface II for Advent).
Longing is the prayer of the Church (Rev 22:17).
What a glorious reunion it will be when these restrictions lift and we can once again participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us start to prepare our hearts now for that first Holy Communion! How new and deep this union will be.
Then the “new normal” they speak of will indeed be “new” because our hearts will be new. Their capacity for love will have grown, deepened and gotten stronger—both in love of God and love of neighbor.
Sr. Joseph Therese, CFR