“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” – St. John Maria Vianney

My Dear Friends:

As we continue our journey through these challenging pandemic times, it is good to take a moment and reflect on our relationship with God, the Church, and the sacraments.  Of particular interest is the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and what this beautiful encounter means to us as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; …he who eats my flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life and…abides in me, and I in him.” (Jn 6:51, 54, 56).  Given what is at the heart of our faith, it is helpful to regularly reflect upon the beauty, necessity and sanctity of the Eucharist.

“Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his (Christ’s) Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints (CCC 1419).” That being said, the Eucharist being the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ has within it great power. It is not simply a symbol, a remembrance, a celebration or a reenactment. The Eucharist has the ability to connect, sustain, strengthen and properly orient us not only on the road of this life but the road to life eternal.   Knowing this, when life gets challenging, unsettling, and difficult, we can rely on and cling to this gift we have in the Real Presence of Christ. This actual encounter with God celebrates God’s unconditional love for us and grounds us to the truth of who we are in a way nothing else is able to do.

Receiving Holy Eucharist During the Pandemic

As our world faces so much turmoil and change, it is important now more than ever to remember who God is, who we are and where we are going. It is easy to get distracted and lose focus, especially when we are being pulled in so many directions. We can not only lose sight of God but one another. The restrictions placed on our social interactions make this possibility even more likely. Maintaining our well developed and mature relationships with God and one another are essential to continuing to live, healthy, happy and focused lives.   

In a message to young people, Pope Benedict XVI said: “The happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist.” What is true for those who are younger is even truer for those who are older. Regardless of how the particulars of life change over time, human beings are still hard wired to seek the fullness of life and happiness. How we embark on this journey and what we choose along the way will indicate whether we meet success.

God is certainly not constrained by limitations and restrictions that are imposed and there are many things limiting us these days. When an individual who desires a Eucharistic closeness with God cannot come to church, the grace of a spiritual communion is available. God’s Eucharistic presence is still encountered, even at a distance when sought in love.  When it is possible to actually receive the Body of Christ, physically doing so is preferred and is the better way to intimately connect us with Christ’s life. Encountering and receiving God’s presence, physically or spiritually, is pivotal not only for our own spiritual lives but for the relationship we share with one another as the Body of Christ. We are companions on the journey of faith. In fact, it is the Eucharist that connects us most specifically with the poor, allowing us to recognize Christ in those who are most poor and vulnerable among us. Being strong in our mission of advancing the Gospel is what allows us to be Eucharist for others and bring healing to the ills and divisions that abound. The world desperately needs the Eucharist.  People are struggling to find happiness and craving it. Sadly, many are looking for it in places that are empty. What they actually need, but don’t realize, is God and God’s greatest gift.

There is so much brokenness and pain in our world.  Many people are lost, feeling lonely, anxious, marginalized, isolated, oppressed and abused. received the Body of Christ we have an opportunity to become what we eat. The power and presence of Christ in the Eucharist becomes present in us and effects change in ourselves and in the lives of those we meet. We are given the grace to become temples of justice and peace, carrying God’s sacred Presence within us wherever we go. Our community is ignited with the fire of God’s love and stands out as a beacon of hope in a world that is lost. This is the only way we can discover peace-filled resolutions to violence and create innovative solutions to what is fueling its need in the first place.

Many are still anxious about physically participating in Mass in person, and rightfully so. Limitations on numbers that can attend make accommodating more people challenging. As your pastor, I found myself wondering how I could make the actual reception of Christ in the Eucharist more accessible given this unprecedented situation. Providing a safe, reverent and easy way for people to receive the One they need and desire, is what led to my decision to distribute Holy Communion AFTER every Sunday Mass. You do not need to attend the actual Mass. You may participate in Mass from your home or live stream Mass from the church parking lot. Either way works. It is important to know that proper COVID-19 precautions are enforced and maintained inside the church.  The entire church is properly disinfected after each service and there is no need to touch doors or any other surface when entering or exiting. Therefore, if you are not in need of total isolation and can be out in the community conducting essential business, then I want you to know that this safe opportunity to physically connect with God is available to you.

In closing, I am reminded of some words of wisdom imparted to us by St. John Maria Vianney. “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” Know that I care very deeply about all of you and want all of us to see that a relationship with God, especially through the Eucharist, is the anchor we need during these stressful times. If you have not done so already, consider a return to a regular reception of the Holy Eucharist. This can be done virtually by either making a Spiritual Communion at home or coming after one of the weekend Masses to receive Holy Communion or actually attending Mass.

I hope to see you soon, if not at Mass or afterward for the reception of this precious gift, then when a safe return is possible. In the meantime, know that you have my thoughts and prayers. Please keep me in yours. If there is anything else I can do for you, please reach out to me at father@isidoreandmaria.org, or by calling the parish office (860) 633-9419.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Father Mark