Updated: Apr 15, 2020
On Sunday, March 22 I stood before the sisters here on 113th street and said, “Today will be our last Mass for the foreseeable future.” I wonder if this is what it feels like for doctors when they deliver a terminal diagnosis. How could I say such a thing? The unthinkable has happened. Even though we had been anticipating this for several days, the reality was like being enveloped in an opaque cloud. No more Mass. A stunning impossibility has happened. And even with sympathy for rationale, the pain of this reality must be acknowledged. The Mass is our life.
It’s true, our tabernacles are full of consecrated Hosts. Our Divine Savior is with us. And, please God, we will be able to receive Him in Holy Communion each day until the moratorium on Holy Mass lifts. We are more blessed than we could possibly comprehend. I am especially sensitive to the reality that the vast majority of the faithful reading this are not presently able to receive.
Profound gratitude and repentance for taking the Blessed Sacrament for granted are two dispositions that I hope will characterize this time of Eucharistic fast, but it is a time of Eucharistic fast, even for those still able to receive. We are without the Sacrifice of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Receiving Holy Communion daily is a grace beyond comprehension. It is immense. It is an undeserved privilege. It is far more than the vast majority of you have. True. True. True. We will console one another in the absence of Mass by our ability to receive Holy Communion. But, may I say that I am not sure I want to take the edge off my longing. I am not sure that the sharp and piercing hunger of being without Mass is meant to be dulled.
The Mass is The Offering. In the Mass, the Son offers His gift of life to the Father for my salvation and for yours. And as He does, He sweeps me up into His self-offering. He gathers me up into His redemptive act and my gift of self is lost in His. My life, my vocation, my consecration, my vows only make sense in His offering to the Father. The Mass makes present the meaning of my life newly, freshly, real-ly.
The daily offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass in which Jesus the High Priest makes His redemptive self-gift present anew is the magnet that draws our every action, all our little minute, partial, imperfect attempts at charity, gathering all our prayers and all our everything, and unites them to His loving, trusting, total self-offering to the Father. His great offering enfolds our little offering. He alone gives meaning to what is meager and power to what is, of itself, nothing. The Mass.
Let us not get used to life without Mass. Let us instead long for the Mass with ever greater longing. And even as we long for the Mass, let us live our own self-offering ever more completely in the thousand little ways in which He shows us opportunities. Let us unite ourselves mystically not to one, but to all the Masses in the world, and as Jesus offers Himself to the Father in a perfect gift of love, let’s let Him sweep us up into His cruciform embrace as an offering to the Father too.
Beloved brothers and sisters, we are for now without the Mass, what is to prevent us from becoming the offering? Mother Clare, CFR