Meg Herriot's return to Mass taught her the meaning behind the graces of spiritual communion and the continuing ministry of priests.
As I'm sure many of you have experienced, watching Mass from home is missing a lot more than the Eucharist (which is obviously the most important). Spiritual communion, while helpful, is not the same as receiving the physical sacrament.
My husband and I tried to keep watching Mass at the same time on Sundays (and occasionally Saturday vigil) and we made a point out of changing out of our pajamas or casual clothes, putting the kitten away to stop his antics from distracting us, and telling our son he had to pay attention during the Gospel reading and the consecration. His difficulty paying attention to Mass at home made me worried that there would be quite a bit of regression when we got back into the pews.
My emotions and thoughts on missing Mass have vacillated from a deep longing and attraction to receiving the Eucharist (I convinced my husband to get up at 5 AM on our anniversary to make sure we could be among the first 10 people to attend daily Mass, as that is where the limit was at the time) to feeling guilty that I somehow didn't have a deeper longing and need and despair as some people I know. In some ways, it felt like life was still going on, despite the absence from the Sacraments.
This past week, we were able to go to Mass as a family for the first time in several months. Though we were wearing masks, there was a lot of hand sanitizer and no missals, it felt like coming home. My son, to my shock was impeccably behaved (although one thought I had was the loss of oxygen he had from wearing the mask may have helped, which he attested later to me that he couldn't breathe at times during Mass).
As a veterinarian, I've had to train myself to have extreme control of my emotions. I probably only cry a couple of times a year (whereas when I was a child, it was probably a couple times a week). I hadn't cried the first time I had received the Eucharist on our anniversary, but on the first Sunday Mass together, after witnessing another woman cry, I did find myself fighting my emotions.
I received the gift of reassurance that yes, I did have a heart and yes, that heart longed for and needed Jesus. While I was concerned that my ability to go on without the Sacraments had concerned me, what I didn't realize, until then, was how much spiritual communion did carry me through, how much the priests continuing to celebrate Mass, even without the Faithful physical present had a power to carry us.
Thank you, Lord.
Copyright 2020 Meg Herriot
Image: Pixabay (2014)