As readers will know we are currently living and working in England, we are very keen to return to Ireland but this will not be possible until Kim’s back has healed well enough to cope with the journey home, progress is steady but slow and it is likely we will have to stay here until the summer.
One of the advantages of being in England is that I am able to attend Mass several times a week. The spaces are limited with tickets necessary via an online booking system but so far I have managed to attend most Sundays and I have tickets for the Easter Triduum. Of course it should not be necessary to have to acquire tickets for Mass but such are the times we live in and at least the bishops of England and Wales have been forceful in ensuring that public worship continues.
It is a great tragedy and very wrong that readers in Ireland will be denied access to the sacraments this Easter and the lack of leadership on the part of Irish bishops has been appalling. There are no recorded cases of transmission of the virus in churches and bishops should be pushing much more forcefully to restore public worship in Ireland. In particular the recent comments from the Archbishop of Dublin and his banning of Holy Communion have left me dismayed – more on that in John Lacken’s column.
Thankfully the local priest here is very friendly and I am able to receive Holy Communion on the tongue though this has not been without difficulty. A few weeks ago the priest spoke to me before Mass and explained he had been approached by several parishioners who were concerned that giving me Holy Communion on the tongue was a breach of the bishop’s advice and risked spreading infection of the Chinese virus.
I still receive Holy Communion on the tongue but now I wait behind at the end of Mass until the busy bodies and snoops have left the Church. It is very sad that some people view Communion in this way and once again highlights the failure of catechesis in our Church.
All the most extraordinary graces and blessings are contained in the MOST HOLY EUCHARIST! Jesus complained to Saint Faustina saying that many people treat Him in the Eucharist as if He were a mere object! How horrendous the sad reality that Jesus is treated as a mere object! One Holy Communion is worth more than the whole created universe. Why? For the simple reason that Holy Communion is truly and substantially God Himself, Jesus Himself in His BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, AND DIVINITY.
Every time you approach to receive Holy Communion, “The Bread of the angels”, receive it as if it were your first, last and only Holy Communion! If done you will make huge strides on the highway to holiness!
I do not believe God would allow His sacrament, His greatest gift to mankind to become contaminated with a man made Chinese virus and therefore I will continue to receive His Body with confidence and faith and I am thankful for the priest who makes this possible despite the agitation he is subject to for doing so.
So as we approach the great feast of Easter let’s remember that in spite of all the troubles and turmoil inside the Church and within society Christ has had the final victory over death and in Him we are promised a new life. But a victory is never gained without a battle being fought and while we should enjoy the Easter eggs and Easter bunnies we should not forget that we are called to join this battle and engage in the daily struggle to proclaim God’s Kingdom here on earth.
The First Letter of St. Peter strikes the tone and helps us prepare for battle:
“Do not be surprised, beloved, that a trial by fire is occurring in your midst. It is a test for you, but it should not catch you off guard. Rejoice instead, in the measure that you share Christ’s sufferings. When his glory is revealed, you will rejoice exultantly. Happy are you when you are insulted for the sake of Christ, for then God’s Spirit in its glory has come to rest on you ….
The season of judgment has begun, and begun with God’s own household. If it begins this way with us, what must be the end for those who refuse obedience to the gospel of God? And if the just man is saved only with difficulty, what is to become of the godless and the sinner? Accordingly, let those who suffer as God’s will requires continue in good deeds, and entrust their lives to a faithful Creator….
Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith, realising that the brotherhood of believers is undergoing the same sufferings throughout the world. The God of all grace, who called you to his everlasting glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while. Dominion be his throughout the ages! Amen (1 Peter 4:12-5:14).
The choice we have is simple. We can either remain silent while God is mocked in the public square and people are led into confusion or we can speak up and proclaim the unchangeable truths of the `Gospel.
The Easter message is not that there is no battle, but rather that the battle is a glorious one whose outcome has already been decided. Let us choose sides wisely, for we must make a choice, as Christ tells us “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathers not with me, scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) Jesus is risen from the dead and He is not going away. Let us make sure that we are still on His side when we get that final call.