With the public celebration of Mass tragically suspended, we feel that a darkness has come over the Church. We know that it is a temporary darkness. It will pass. Nevertheless, we also know how bereft God’s people are feeling.
For reasons which at the moment seem beyond our control, the Lord is permitting this temporary sacramental deprivation. I don’t mean that God is deliberately punishing us, but evidently He permits it. If He permits it, there must be a purpose. We may not be at all sure about the purpose, but we are very sure about the effect. We feel the effect of the present extraordinary measures as a cause of great distress. As with any unusual penance that is laid upon us, unasked for, we should do our best to offer to heaven the hardship it entails, with resignation and without anger. Perhaps this unprecedented public penance is a way for us to enter more deeply into the Saviour’s Passion and Cross.
Although the public celebration of Mass is temporarily suspended, the Mass itself, the Eucharistic sacrifice, is not suspended. Throughout the Catholic world the sacrifice of the altar is offered up every day, for all the living and all the departed. The Lord has not withdrawn Himself from His Eucharist, but for some reason, He has permitted circumstances to occur which are now obliging His People to hunger more acutely for that heavenly food, for a time. We must pray for the time to be shortened.
Our present deprivation can give us a deeper understanding of the sad plight of so many other Christians around the world. In many places, Catholics and other Christians are horribly persecuted; many are tortured and killed. Often their churches are trashed and desecrated, and the faithful are left completely without the sacraments. By comparison, our present sufferings are far less than theirs. Our situation is different. For us, the public celebration of Mass will return. The faithful will once again gather together, and will once again rejoice as they go in unto the altar of God.
Christ the divine Physician always wants to heal our spiritual maladies. In this time of sickness, let us beg Him also to intervene in the material order, and by His divine power to bring the current plague to an end.