Being Eucharist in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak
Note: Sister Paula Damiano’s latest blog entry was written on Thursday, March 19, the Feast of Saint Joseph.
I’m going to bed tonight with such a wide range of emotions.
It’s the Feast of Saint Joseph, an important patron saint for the community and also the anniversary of the death of Sister Rose Marita Riordan, one of my favorite sisters in the whole world who died a few years ago.
So, I was already feeling somewhat melancholy as I went into the church for Liturgy. Of course, the coronavirus news has put me in something of a funk.
Before Mass began, our General Superior announced that, due to new restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people, today would be the last day we would have Mass. I guessed this would be coming, as more and more dioceses are putting out similar guidelines.
Meanwhile, theologians and other persons have been writing their “take” on the issue. So I’d been fine with all of this and encouraged by these articles and saying to myself, “Yes, this is wonderful theology – I understand it. I agree with it.” The ideas they’ve presented about the communion of saints and our unity across the ages is inspiring. Another wrote of the universality of the Church which, by the very nature of Baptism, makes us participants in every Eucharistic Liturgy. My favorite article was one that focused on the universal and cosmic significance of the Eucharist.
Each posted article was beautiful until, of course, it happened to me! With the announcement, I had such a sadness inside; I felt like I was losing something very important. Every prayer spoken, every song sung, took on a new and different meaning. “I receive the living God, and my heart is full of joy.” The words of this song (not usually my favorite), where poignant. As the communion procession continued and each sister received the living God, my heart was, indeed, full of joy – for God’s gift to us, for my sisters, for Father Dan.
Looking around, I wondered if everyone who was there in church today would be there a few months from now. My heart ached for my sisters who for 70, 80, and 90 years or more have hardly been without the Eucharist for more than a few days. What were they experiencing? What could we do to BE EUCHARIST for one another during this time? How to be Christ for one another in ways that are nourishing?
I wondered why, even though I am sometimes not at Mass, it was affecting me this way. What was the message I needed to receive?
My answer came just before falling asleep when the words from John 1:14 entered my mind: “The word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Christ dwells within me, within each of us. We become the tabernacle! I slept peacefully.