Hungering for the Flesh of God
I definitely didn’t plan on spending my first Easter as a pastor of parishes in a general quarantine with public Masses suspended, but then, Fr. Kopel probably never planned to spend his last before retirement this way either. In his 43 years of priesthood, he says he’s never experienced anything like this. And it’s most difficult for those in nursing homes or alone at home unable to have visitors, unable to receive sacramentally the greatest Visitor of all, Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist.
For all the graces that God is able to pour out through spiritual Communions, through knowledge of His presence everywhere and more particularly through His sanctifying grace in our souls, through the words of Scripture and prayer, there’s no denying that being unable to receive Jesus in sacramental Communion is a heavy cross that you’ve been asked to continue to bear even into the Easter season. But God is faithful. Whatever He asks of you, He will also give you the grace to bear.
We don’t often consider that for huge portions of the Church’s history, frequent Communion was not all that common. To receive at only the highest feasts, just a few times throughout the year—always after making a good Confession—was the much more typical practice. Otherwise, Catholics would attend Mass every Sunday or more often, praying for a Spiritual Communion almost every time. And yet, God raised up countless Saints in His Church during those centuries. His grace was never lacking to those willing to cooperate with it. And I’m sure each time they did receive Holy Communion was almost as memorable as their First.
There is a danger in anything frequent becoming merely routine. Hopefully this unique time gives us a chance to better reflect on the matchless Gift of the Most Holy Eucharist and not take for granted or pass over with indifference the God who took on Flesh that He might feed us with His very Self. “And whoever feeds on Me will have life because of Me. And I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:57, 40).
Christ is risen! He is truly risen, never to die again. And He promises the same to all those who hope in His word, those who do not merely call Him “Lord, Lord,” but who put into practice what He commands (Cf. Lk 6:46; Mt 7:21). As difficult as it may be because of all that is happening, “do not be sad this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Alleluia! Praise the Lord! Happy Easter to you and yours!