I hope and pray that you are all keeping well at this time, this unusual time. Whilst life might seem all over the place at the moment, routines out of the window, and so on, and attempts being made to create and embed new routines, we turn our eyes to the one constant – God. God who is always with us, unfailing in His faithfulness, true, solid, ever-reliable. Life is what we are experiencing at the moment, but perhaps more so: life is a state of flux, change, dissolution. Only normally we don’t experience it with the same intensity or rapidity. Standing back we can see that God alone is our Rock, for even in ourselves there is change, swings of mood, alterations, uncertainties.
What am I trying to say?… Well, if life around us is uncertain, if how we are in ourselves – how we feel – is uncertain, then the only “thing” the only person, in fact, who will give us the stability that we’re looking for is the Almighty. We need to turn more to Him, to cling to Him, to set our “feet” solidly upon the Rock that He is. This we do in prayer, this we do in intimacy of relationship with God that comes through prayer. So, pick up the Bible, pick up your Rosary, take hold of your prayer books and use them as the keys for entering into the Heart of the Lord. There’s no great secret to it, just do it, speak to Him from your heart knowing that His Heart is already open to communication, that He’s waiting for you to respond to the love that He has already lavished upon you in quantities beyond your reckoning.
My fear, whilst recognising some value to it, is that time spent merely watching Mass on live stream will make us more into spectators than participants, that we’ll just be watching and not engaging. Televised or streamed Masses may make us feel connected with the Church still, and that’s a good thing, but they’re certainly not a substitute for personal prayer, and they don’t fulfil our Sunday obligation – something we’ve been dispensed of at the moment, anyway. Our obligation, in these times, is to spend quality time in prayer with the Lord, equivalent, I would say to the time we would have spent at Holy Mass. But it also begs the further question… Have we fallen into being spectators even when we were physically at Holy Mass, were we there just watching what was going on, or were we praying the Mass, were we engaging with it in mind, and heart, and spirit?
I hope that this will be a time of renewal for us all, a time to cultivate a hunger for prayer, for the Mass, for our commitment to God, a time to renew and revitalize our relationship with the Lord, so that if any of it has just been watching on the side lines we’ll now let that go and really engage with Him from the heart. Don’t get me wrong, televised Masses help us see how “universal” the Catholic Church is, they stop us being narrow in our vision of the Church, and help us to experience the richness of Catholicism, but “virtual Church” as the Holy Father has said recently is never a substitute for the real thing, and “virtual prayer” is not a substitute for the real thing either. We’re not spectators but sons and daughters, we can’t visit our Father’s House at the moment, but we can still give Him a call, we can put our hands together and pray to Him. The relationship is real, and can’t be substituted with anything “virtual”.
Keep the Faith, keep strong, be of good cheer, and let’s keep remembering each other in our prayers.
God bless you, Fr. Martin