For as long as I remember, being considered a ‘member’ of the Church of England required one to receive Holy Communion at least twice per year at Christmas and Easter. So does that mean that this year we all become Presbyterians – or worse? (some will argue ‘better’ of course). As far as I know the Archbishops have not abrogated that rule, or offered an indulgence for our sin of omission!
Of course there are the various online masses – including our own mass
together with “TV masses” here in Malta (I can’t help but recall that 50s delight TV dinners)
And there are all sorts of websites, online resources and blogs. (here is a good one: https://www.heartedge.org/ – so much to explore there)
But it’s not the same is it? Indeed many around the world are up in arms that ‘their celebration of the Eucharist, their mass’ has been banned. Perhaps we all need reminding that it is not ‘our’ anything. I’ll always remember a very silly deacon finishing the public proclamation of the gospel in Southwark Cathedral one Chrism Mass with the words, “The gospel of Our Lord”. Perhaps it was a slip of the tongue. But I nearly stood up and said he is not OUR Lord. He is THE Lord, the saviour of the world. The gospel (good news) is for everyone! (I am mad enough – but I didn’t do it).
Here once again are the interesting reflections on this topic by Sr Catherine my Benedictine Nun friend (https://www.ibenedictines.org/)
“Live-streaming Mass, making a spiritual communion that is the experience of the greater part of the Church today. What was once confined to the invisible Church — the old, the sick, those in countries where priests are few and far between — has now become universal. Mass in a time of COVID-19 is very different from what most of us have known for most of our lives, and so with the other sacraments. I don’t for one moment deny the validity or even the necessity of the current arrangements, but I am glad that we are beginning to ask some very important questions about the Eucharist and other sacraments. The pro multis [ offered for many] of the words of Eucharistic consecration are not to be lightly abandoned or understood in a restrictive sense, are they?”
She finishes by saying,
“Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us into a fuller understanding of this treasure entrusted to the Church.“
So often we take the Eucharist, whose initiation today we commemorate as we recall the Last Supper, for granted. This traditional meal was the first part of that ritual gathering which eventually became the central celebration of the Christian Church. After those next transformational events of crucifixion and resurrection that ‘last supper’ became the Eucharist. The mass, in which the Church would daily call into the present moment, and join with, the Lord’s offering ‘once for all’ for the needs of the world.
The Lord’s offering has not been stopped! The central act of salvation by Christ on the cross has not been banned! The power of love which He came to share is still offered!
Once more these times are asking us to ponder what is important in the Faith and what is temporal and passing. Maybe at the end of it all we will cling to these words as being one way of summing up (within a Christian context) the thing that really matters.