I must say that my heart fell when I read the news from my parish website, “The Bishops of Ohio have suspended all public masses…no services will be observed during Holy Week or Easter.” Knowing that this message was heard by just about every diocese and archdiocese across the United States, and perhaps the whole world, did not bring me comfort.
A cradle Catholic, I can barely recall a time when I have not participated in Lent and the Triduum. Is this what early Christians felt when their rights to attend church services and receive the Eucharist were denied? Did they ask, what am I going to do? How will I live without practicing my faith?
This catastrophe we are facing is not exactly what the early Christians experienced, but I imagine the feelings it evokes are similar. I have rarely been absent from Sunday services and when I have been unable to attend Mass I feel as if something spiritual and physical is missing. Attending Mass makes me feel the real presence of God in my life. It reminds me that I am human and God will always love and forgive me.
In Jeremiah (17:7-8) we are told, “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches it roots to the stream. It fears not the heat when it comes…in the years of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”
Jeremiah’s words remind me that during this world-wide pandemic, I must remember to trust in the Lord, place my hope in the Lord to deliver us safely from this devastating illness. I must pray and continue on my journey through Lent and the Triduum, knowing that I am not alone. I will be traveling with the hearts of my fellow Christians, not despairing but looking forward to God’s help.
-Patricia Herrick, OPA
For online resources prepared by the Dominican Sisters of Peace to commemorate the Lenten season, click here