All through the twenty-odd years of my life; through the various changes in seasons, there’s just been one consistent feature that has never wavered: Attending Mass on the weekends.
Now, I must say that as a little child, I simply went through the motions. I hardly understood what the priest or altar servers were doing right before my very eyes, nor did I even understand why I had to be there to begin with. Why can’t I just pray to God right in the comforts of my own home, aye?
But as I grew up and grew deeper in faith through the various God encounters that I’ve been graced with, my love and appreciation for the Sacraments, especially the Holy Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation slowly deepened. How deep is His love for us, such that He would make Himself present in the Eucharist, for us to receive Him into our hearts!
So, when news first broke that public Masses will be suspended in Singapore indefinitely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in our nation, I felt lost. What was I to do on my weekends now? How can I still receive His grace of love and mercy, now that Masses have been suspended? It felt like there was now a void in my life… a gap between God and I that I was unfamiliar with.
The Eucharistic Celebration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation that used to help me receive His mercy when I felt weighed down by sin were now going to be inaccessible. Even sitting before the Lord in the adoration chapel was going to be a challenge. How? What was I to do?
You know – with Masses now being suspended, there are in fact two ways we can approach this current climate: We can choose to lean in closer to God, trying to seek out other ways to continue to pursue Him despite the current challenges before us – Or, we can choose to “leverage” on the current suspension of Masses and simply waste our Sabbath away, since we now don’t “need” to go for Mass anyway.
I don’t know about you, but I know that in this apparent void, it is not a time for me to squander my relationship with God that I’ve fought through too much for, but to seek out other ways of deepening my relationship with Him.
The liturgical season that we currently find ourselves in, the season of Lent, seems to have dawned upon us in a very timely manner. Think of the void that some of us might be experiencing with Masses now suspended; that is the void that exists in our hearts when we are far from Christ because of sin that continues to dwell in us. Think of that desire that we have for the resumption of Masses; that is the hunger that we want to have as we prepare ourselves for His Resurrection at Easter… that hunger to be purified and to be made new in His image and likeness again.
Whether it is because of the suspension of Masses or because it is the Lenten season, let it be our desire to pursue holiness. In every season and every circumstance, may we never falter in our pursuit to be the men and women we are each made to be.
Yet, brothers and sisters, this requires us to act upon our desires. We cannot simply say that we want to grow in this Lenten season without doing anything that would help us achieve the growth we desire. Similarly, it is contrary if we were to say that we desire for the Masses to be resumed because we long to receive Him in the Eucharist again and to be in His presence, yet do nothing in this season of waiting. Masses might have been suspended. But we can still encounter God in other ways in this trying time. We need to be open to the movements of His Spirit.
Perhaps this is also a time for us to seek forgiveness for the times we have taken the Sacraments for granted when they were so readily available. How often have we simply gone through the motions of attending Mass week in and week out, without truly appreciating the gift of the Eucharist, the true presence of Christ before us?
In this apparent darkness and void of masses, activities in the Parishes, let us not be weighed down, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us instead, ask for God’s mercy for the times we have taken the Sacraments for granted and for a renewal of heart so that we may pursue Him with greater vigour and faithfulness. Together, let us rise above these trying circumstances and emerge out of this – and the Lenten season, victorious with Christ our Saviour.
“Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine.” – St. Augustine of Hippo