Stephanie Stovall contemplates the spiritual impact of the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Let’s go back to last March.
Back to when schools shut down and our children were forced back on us from the hours of 8 to 3.
To be completely honest, I’m nowhere near the top of the Best Moms list. We have five boys ranging from 3 to 11 years old and I love them, I do. But -- you tell me I’m going to have to be with my kids 24/7 during the week until the month of ??? I’m gonna lose my mind!
Then out of nowhere, toilet paper turns to gold, the Thunder game is cancelled right at tip off and Trump comes on to address the nation to take us into full on pandemic mode.
I will admit, I had a little more of freak out moment.
Guys, I just found out I was going to have five boys, all at home, ALL of the days -- with no tp. I made them move so fast out of bed and into the car they were asking “are we on fire?!” as I sped off to buy WalMart.
Thanks be to God, I acquired some toilet paper, the lock down weather was great, allowing my little hoodlums to play outside a ton. My husband was asked to work from home (which at first had me worried for my judgement-free middle of the day Hallmark movie watching) and even that turned out to be wonderful! We all loved the time together so much.
But there was one lockdown event that had me on the floor completely broken.
The Church itself decided to shut down the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for laity.
I kept thinking, how can you tell us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that the Eucharist “is the source and summit of the Christian life”... and then keep us away from it?
The Eucharist was completely locked away.
And I lost it.
Perpetual adoration was suspended, so I would just sit in front of the tabernacle for hours during that time.
Just sitting there, staring at Him locked away, I felt so empty inside.
I wanted to “Behold the Lamb of God” so badly it physically hurt.
I had experienced losing 4 babies to miscarriage the year before, and I remember thinking how that empty feeling was back, inside of my body.
During the brokenness of the moment, I kept the hope that someday soon we would all be able to “Behold” Him again.
I wondered what that moment would look like.
Would churches be filled? Would everyone run to their unspoken yet reserved precious pew?
I worried about what the cancelation of the Mass was doing to the faithful.
How hungry was the laity to be able to physically receive Him again, to be present to the priest saying those sacred words …
Behold, the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
I pondered God missing us, wanting us back in that physical union.
That dark time, that forced dark night of the soul, is now one of my most beautiful memories of the lockdown.
The ways in which God showed up when I was there, Him locked up tight inside the tabernacle, was something miraculous for me that I will never forget.
But the deep wound of His Eucharistic absence during that time is still here.
It has made me bitter.
It has made me so judgmental.
It has revealed a lot of my own brokenness, my sinfulness.
In God’s faithfulness, that wound has given me beauty beyond belief, but it is a wound that has not yet healed and has me realizing just how dirty I really am.
The exterior wound of the shutdown of the Mass has exposed deeper wounds my soul has carried. It wasn’t until recently that I began to see how damaging the deeper wounds have been to myself, as well as to others through my sinful ways.
Scott Hahn in The Eucharist in Scripture says,
The mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Real Presence of Jesus, in the Holy Eucharist, this is what it’s all about. Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.
Now that we can “Behold” Our Lord again, we owe it to Him to check the disposition of our hearts toward this Most Holy Sacrament.
We must challenge our love for the Eucharist; we must ask God to take us deeper into this Mystery than ever before.
We have to beg Him to send us the grace to fall deeper in love with His True Presence.
The Eucharist IS the source and summit of everything that we are, everything that we have, everything that exists.
We owe everything to this Most Blessed Sacrament -- including the hard and uncomfortable work of looking deep within our wounds and our sins.
We need to do the work of asking God to cleanse our heart, cleanse our spirit.
We have to use this time, right now, to give Him our all, our very best.
If not now, then when?
If we didn’t know it before, we must have the realization now that the spiritual battle is in full force.
Are we at the point where we are willing to lay down everything for Him, like He did for us?
He has come to turn beauty from ashes. Are we willing to allow Him to fulfill the work He has created us for?
How are we beholding The Lamb of God in this very moment?
What is the disposition of your heart towards The Lamb? Towards the Holy Eucharist?
Lord, I believe, please help my unbelief.
Copyright 2021 Stephanie Stovall
Image: Pixabay (2016)
About the Author
Stephanie Stovall loves Oklahoma State University and hanging out with her husband. She keeps Holy Mary busy praying for patience with her five little boys. Stephanie loves God, Catholicism and evangelizing with all her heart! You can find more of her messy thoughts over on TheBlessedFruit.com