My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
There come certain times in history when we start to look at things differently because of extraordinary events.
This COVID-19 experience is one of those times when we begin to remember things that occurred before the pandemic and think of what might be after the pandemic.
Unfortunately, we are not yet beyond the pandemic, and so we do need to see things at this particular time from a perspective of what the pandemic means. In other times, however, a Christian point of view reminds us that we must see everything from the perspective of Eternity. How compelling it is that we recognize that each and every one of us is on this side of Eternity. And someday we will enter that Eternity when we meet God, who calls us to Himself.
Perhaps we need to take a different perspective, not the perspective of a pandemic that has harassed us, and that has made many of us sick, and has saddened us who have lost family members and friends to this virus. More importantly, however, we must see that our goals do not depend on this temporary pandemic, no matter how long it lasts.
Fortunately, we have come to the point of time when we have been able to open up our churches; first for visitation and then for daily Mass, and now since Sunday, July 5th, Sunday Mass, and of course with social distancing. Daily and Sunday Mass continues to be transmitted in various languages on our own NET-TV because we know the dispensation is still in effect for those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions and cannot yet return safely to church. For most of us, as long as we are healthy and meet the safety requirements set before us, we should try to return to the practice of coming to the Sunday Eucharist when possible. For it is the Eucharist that, indeed, we desire. It is the Eucharist that sustains us in life.
I have heard many have asked if there has ever been a time when people have had no access to the Eucharist for such a long period of time. Certainly, in times of war and disaster, this has been the case. In general, however, and I have experienced in my own lifetime, we recognize that lines of people receiving Communion were never as long as they are today. And there are several reasons.
The Communion fast, which in the past began from Midnight on and included no food or even a drop of water, made it difficult for some to fast should they attend Mass until the next day. It was always the case that the 12:00 Mass had very few communicants. There was a hint of the Jansenism of the past; the heresy that said that frequent reception of Communion was not something that we should engage in. At the same time, there were other factors that remind us that our approach to sin has changed, hopefully for the better. We recognize that not every simple act is so serious that we can be kept from the Eucharist. While at the same time, we recognize that our reception of Communion helps us to achieve the perfection of life that each one of us strives to obtain. How important it is that we see the Eucharist as the center of our spiritual life and our contact with God in this world, as we look at all things from the perspective of Eternity.
As I mentioned in a previous column, one of our seminarians shared with me a cartoon he saw that pictured the Devil approaching God, saying, “See, I have succeeded in closing every church.” And God simply replied, “Yes, and I have opened one in every home!” Truly, I think it is important that we recognize that it is because of the pandemic that people have learned to pray in their homes in a way that perhaps has not been done in a long time. Our homes truly have become the domestic church, as the Church teaches. Home is a place where we are in communion in a family, and where we share with one another our life of prayer in different ways. Assisting at Mass spiritually on television certainly is an important means of prayer, however, we know that it is much better if we can participate at Mass in person and in Church.
Again, as we look at things from the perspective of Eternity, we recognize that this summer has already become the summer of discontent, as the saying goes. We have seen the multiple demonstrations by young people, especially under the banner of Black Lives Matter or other causes. Protests are a guaranteed activity under our Constitution. There are limits, however, to protests. Protests cannot be violent; they must be non-violent in order to comply with the laws of the land. Unfortunately, there have been aberrations of this as we have seen. And the causes for which young people march sometimes have been obscured by the actions of some. It is important, however, that we face the issue of racism head-on.
There are those who feel that racism can be diminished by defunding the police so that there will be less conflict between the police and persons of color. At the same time, we recognize the rash of shootings, especially here in Brooklyn and Queens, where many innocent people have been shot, maimed, or died. We must recognize that responsibility, for life belongs to the community. We have followed rules of social distancing during this pandemic; however, the rules of social responsibility are much more burdensome be-
cause we are responsible for the well-being of each other.
This is what binds our society together. And it is also the rule of our faith.
It is surprising that only last week did Planned Parenthood disavow its so-called founder, Margaret Sanger, as a racist because of her Eugenic leanings. She began right here in Brooklyn with her first clinic, supposedly to assist the poor. At the same time, it was also to eliminate those poor people from having children, since it was believed that their offspring would not be a benefit to society. Unfortunately, this same mentality haunts us today with those who support abortion for the same racist reasons. Today, however, during this summer period of discontent, we need to look at the possibilities we have of bringing our society together again.
Normally, summer is a time when we can be on vacation, recreate, and relax. This summer, however, we will not have too many opportunities because everyone is over relaxed from the confinement we have experienced since March. People are anxious to get back to work and to engage in a more normal lifestyle.
We are truly putting out into the deep with a new perspective on life. Perhaps it is best to look at things from the aspect of Eternity. Everything makes more sense, everything that is important comes to the fore while those things that are not important pass away. We pray together as we continue this summertime to become more cognizant of God’s individual plan for each one of us, no matter what adverse circumstances we might face on that road to Eternity.