Holy un-communion in an age of crisis. But you can feed on the word
The headline said it all. “Can’t go to Mass? Meet Jesus in the Word of God.” It’s an article in the French Catholic paper, La Croix.
Asked “What advice do you have for Catholics who will be ‘deprived’ of Mass this Holy Week?” liturgist (worship consultant) Father Gilles Drouin of the Insitut Catholique in Paris, says “People can read the Word of God with members of their family or those they live with. Or they can pray the Liturgy of the Hours, either alone or with others.
“You don’t have to be a monk or nun to do that! The psalms that make up the Liturgy of the Hours provide an incredible relief these days. They encompass all the nuances of the human soul, and allow us to pass from pain or anger to appeasement or gratitude. It is nothing less than a paschal movement.”
“We can’t celebrate (Mass) right now, but we can still live it, especially by performing acts of charity.” – Father Gilles Drouin
The Psalm readings for the Divine office (the other name for the liturgy) will get you through the Book of Psalms every few weeks, with Gospel, Old Testament and Epistle readings as well. It is a lot of Bible.
Druin tells his Catholic audience that [Pope] “Benedict XVI said the Eucharist (Holy Communion or Mass) is a mystery to be believed, a mystery to be celebrated and a mystery to be lived. Of course, we can’t celebrate it right now, but we can still live it, especially by performing acts of charity.
“The criterion of truth in our Eucharistic practice lies in the concern we have for one another.”
It’s an interesting world where a Catholic writer and a Protestant are saying much the same thing about missing Communion. Ridley Melbourne’s Rhys Bezzant says “I want to make the case that it is better to forego communion for the time being than pursue a practice which might have dangerously unforeseen consequences after the crisis has passed. Do we really want to become observers of the priest taking the bread and the wine?”
Bezzant is saying it’s better to go without communion for the time being. The Catholics with closed churches don’t have the same choices.
“We have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that our goal in online settings cannot be to replicate all that the church should be.” – Rhys Bezzant
Protestants could in theory have some sort of house communion. Bezzant thinks that this will not be the full experience we normally share (which, yes, is different from the Catholic version). “I can genuinely see why some might want to encourage small groups to conduct communion services in their own homes. But this changes the purpose of communion, such that it is reduced to individual preference, without factoring in the long-range good of the fellowship, learning to wait on each other, or to build up the body.”
But the medium is the message – or facilitates some communication more than others. “Clearly for the time being, we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that our goal in online settings cannot be to replicate all that the church should be, because these are weird days,” Bezzant points out.
“A ministry of the Word and prayer, highlighting the promises of God, is better suited to digital communication. Words can travel great distances and not be compromised. Promises are primarily received by the ears. God’s power is communicated first of all through the witness and words of the Scriptures.”
And here with both writers testifying to the power of the Scriptures, Eternity can urge you to tune into your church, or one like it, on Sunday to receive a message from the Bible.