We continue our days of social distancing and strangeness, and a section in the newspaper yesterday headlined “The Great Emptiness” with pictures of places around the world that are usually filled with people – Paris, New York, Rome, Milan, Tokyo – now emptied out. People out walking in the neighborhoods around St. Francis, at a distance (except for the dogs who of course want to check out everything and everyone!). It has all happened so fast, and even things from just a few weeks ago now seem like they are from another lifetime.
One thing we have not had is Sunday mass, as we follow directives from local authorities. This makes sense – we must do our part in helping keep people safe from this virus. We have heard from many people who appreciate our live-streaming our Sunday morning mass. People watch from home, and it has helped give some sense of familiarity and normalcy amid all of this. And still, what’s missing of course is receiving communion, and we hear this from people – what it’s like to watch, but not receive. Not ideal, but given the state we’re in, necessary.
This is not the only time this has happened in the history of the Church. It happens even now in remote areas of the world. You may know that Fr. Jim Sabak serves as the Director of Worship for the Diocese of Raleigh, and he reminds us that even as we experience the lack of holy communion during this time, Christ is also present to us in the Word (the readings proclaimed at mass), and also among one another. How are we called to be Christ among one another in a time of absence? We are, as Jim says, in a kind of prolonged Good Friday (Good Friday is the only day of the year in which there is no mass). In these times, stressful and filled with uncertainty for all of us, we hold to a presence amid absence, and perhaps an invitation to a deeper kind of faith.
Holy Week: we will live-stream Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday morning mass. Check our website for more information on that and on other ways we are living out our mission in a time of absence.
Also, a word on our parish offertory: our offertory is down of course, and yet we thank the many people who support our parish through Faith Direct, or through sending in envelopes in the mail. Everything helps, and we are grateful.