I recently stopped at the Poudre Canyon Chapel (pictured above). It is a summer tourist chapel that opens on Memorial Day weekend. As I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes completely alone, the silence was a bit unnerving. I kept thinking a sobering thought. The Church has gone into hiding. There is no vibrant life to be seen. I know that this is not a completely accurate statement and it is a broad generalization. I am simply sharing with you what was running through my head.
It is no secret that I have struggled with some of the decision-making processes of both the government and the Church in regard to our response to COVID-19. I am challenged again this weekend as all three Colorado dioceses are lifting the dispensation from attending Sunday Mass. I jokingly said to my family. It's like playing Monopoly. There is a "Get Out of Jail Free" card in the game. During the last 14 months you have had a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. Unfortunately, that card expires today. My response was met with eye rolls, but it still paints a picture, doesn't it?
Please understand that if you have medical reasons to continue staying home from Mass, even after your diocese lifts the dispensation, you are okay to do that. Illness, being highly susceptible to illness, taking care of loved ones who are ill, and other circumstances can allow you in good conscience to refrain from attending Mass. Talk to your pastor if you have concerns.
(Side note--I don't need any more emails saying I just want people to die.)
Being a person responsible for the religious education of God's people for many years now, it is really difficult to explain away the last 14 months. I had been taught my whole life that the reception of the sacraments is essential for growth in holiness. And yet, a virus with an approximate 99% survival rate, was able to make the Church shut down and reveal that we may not have really believed all that strongly in what we have been teaching for 2,000 years. That breaks my heart. Saint Damien of Molokai has popped into my mind many times over the course of this last year. If you don't know his story, I invite you to research his ministry with the lepers.
I, for one, know the power of the sacraments. My personal spiritual journey was negatively impacted by the lack of access to the sacraments during societal shutdown. The lack of having that solid grounding of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation was reflected in my waning daily prayer life. I desperately need that fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit today.
Come Holy Spirit--fill the hearts of your faithful!
(Yesterday marked the ten year anniversary of the devastating tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri. Please offer a prayer for the people of that community.)