As pandemic restrictions ease and we reevaluate our priorities, AnnAliese Harry emphasizes the importance of encountering Christ in the Mass.
I don’t know about you, but I feel as though the entire spring has flown by. Looking back, I am pretty sure this entire past year feels like a blur, and there seems to be no letup to the crazy pace. I usually pride myself on meeting my writing deadlines, but this year alone, I have seen one too many deadlines come and go, bewildered that it is, “already that time again?!”
This past year has been so vastly different than any imagined. Even those whose routines have not changed too much have had their lives disrupted by this pandemic. And, even in the best of circumstances, the disruption has forced each of us to look at our priorities, and to identify what is most important. In a very real way, this pandemic has forced every one of us to evaluate our lives.
At the apparitions of Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Mother is quoted as saying, “If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.” Looking at the life around each of us, we have the opportunity to change… now. As restrictions ease up, and as the days get longer and hopefully sunnier, now is the time to make the changes we want to see – to look at God’s role in our lives in the forefront of our planning.
For the past year, many people throughout the world have found themselves faced with a reduction in Mass services available. This has forced many of us to steer our focus from finding Christ “only” at Mass, to seeking and recognizing Him during our daily interactions and schedules – whether interpersonal interactions, or simply in the calls of the birds, singing tunes in nature. The ways we have found Christ alive and well in the past year are all good. Christ is alive and is reaching out, offering His hand in gentle fashion, to every single one of us.
The term encounter is defined as, “an unplanned or unexpected meeting” (The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1991). The past year has offered each of us many moments to encounter Christ. It could have been in the random act of kindness bestowed by a stranger in a parking lot. He could have met us in the quiet moments of exchange after little ones finally fell asleep. He could have been present in the moments in which we were absolutely stressed, and someone gave us the gift of something small, an encouraging word, or even simply a smile.
Yet, no experience of this past year could compare to the opportunity to encounter Christ in one place – in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
It is in Mass where the gates of Heaven and Earth open wide, and we are united with the saints in Heaven for adoration of Christ. We are united as community of believers to participate in the Lord’s Supper and receive first-hand the graces of His Sacrifice on the Cross. It is in Mass where we hear the love of God proclaimed – not just to our ears, but also in the depths of our heart and soul. It is at Mass where we kneel before Christ as His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity are raised to meet us where we are in our lives.
We have the opportunity to encounter Christ when we receive Him in the Eucharist – becoming bearers of Christ to others we encounter outside of Mass. We also become the bearer of Christ to those at Mass with us, even if we aren’t able to stay and greet them after Mass.
Christ is all around us. Every day we experience opportunities which can lead us to Christ, or which can lead us from His patient outreach. In the Mass, He lovingly waits to bestow His mercy and graces – offering Himself in four distinct ways: through the priest, through the Eucharist, through the Sacred Scriptures we hear, and through the community gathered with us.
- Christ waits for each of us, bruised, broken, and exhausted as we may feel.
- Christ is ready to pick us up, hold us close, and embrace us for the length of time we need and desire.
- When Christ is held high, He is eager to wash you in His mercy and grace.
- Meet Christ at Mass, and in the Eucharist.
- Allow yourself the opportunity to encounter Christ when He assuredly reveals Himself to you.
As the calendar turns toward summer and restrictions begin to ease throughout the country, each of us will be tasked with looking at our priorities.
Will we place Christ first?
Will we set a date on our calendar to see Him at Mass every weekend? Will we change our lives in a manner so that we will have the ability to spend eternity in God’s loving embrace?
Copyright 2021 AnnAliese Harry
Images (from top): Canva; copyright 2021 AnnAliese Harry, all rights reserved.
About the Author
AnnAliese Harry is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris, and a mother to their young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. AnnAliese volunteers with several military chapel communities and serves as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She blogs about Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. Follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, or on Facebook.