Good news, my friends! We are not cut off from one another by this virus; we are not separated by precautions. No — we are bound together in the Body of Christ, whose members we are. United by our Baptism into His Body, the Church, and nourished by the Eucharist we have received, we are strong together in prayer.
This is the Day of the Domestic Church. Yes; the smallest unit of the church is not the individual, but the family. Your home is become the center of faith for all who dwell there, and Christ will not neglect to nurture and nourish all who turn to Him for light and life in these days.
Yes, things have changed. We all need to stay away from everybody and everything not essential to our survival. Every day has brought evidence that we are all taking this seriously. Here at the rectory, on Tuesday we stopped opening the door, and started talking through the window. By Wednesday the packs of middle-school kids ceased roving the playing field and ball courts together. This is what prudent people do.
The number of people looking to catch us offering Mass each day in the church has dwindled to a trickle. That is good, but sad. Everyone should stay home and far away from everybody else. Isolation hurts, whether isolation from one another, or from God.
But you do not need to feel the weight of distance between yourself and your Creator, between you and your Redeemer. You have received the Holy Spirit to dwell within you, and keep alive the intimacy for which Jesus gave us the Holy Sacraments, even when circumstances keep you further away from those Sacraments than you would wish.
In cases where it is not possible to receive sacramental communion, … it is beneficial to cultivate a desire for full union with Christ through the practice of spiritual communion, praised by Pope John Paul II and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life, taught Pope Benedict XVI his letter on the Holy Eucharist, Sacramentum caritatis. Here is a simple prayer you can offer alone at any time, or together as a family during your Sunday Domestic Church worship, in order to make a spiritual Communion:
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen. (St. Alphonsus Liguori)
You can print it out on a card and carry it around with you. St. Leonard of Port Maurice said: “If you practice the holy exercise of spiritual Communion several times each day, within a month you will see your heart completely changed.”
You can use your Magnificat, or the USCCB Daily Readings web page for the daily readings. Don’t settle to read them quietly to yourself; read them out loud in the assembly of your Domestic Church. Share your thoughts on the readings; pray the prayers. Pray for the intentions each member voices; remember those who are sick, or alone and cut off from family; remember medical workers, and everybody you wish you could be with. Remember your priests!
It is only fair that you pray for us (and I am grateful for all of you who have sent word that you are doing just that) because we are praying for you multiple times each day. We are all three offering Mass every day, always, always carrying your intentions with us to that big, green marble Holy Altar we love so well. We cannot wait until you are able to join us there; soon, soon we hope.
Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist connects us, unites us one to another despite distance and difficulty. The love of God is poured out in the measure we need in the hour we ask for it, assuredly in our Domestic Church. In time of sickness and separation, this is good news.
Through the intercession of Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes, help of the sick, may the blessing of Almighty God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come down on you and remain with you forever. Amen.