My office is just a few blocks from St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. So, on a good day, I get to church when it opens at 6:30, attend the 7 a.m. Mass, maybe go to confession if it's time, pray my morning prayers and give Jesus a little time to say whatever He has in mind for me for the day. Because there is a Mass every half-hour through 8, I sometimes happen to be present for three Masses.
But this Holy Week, with public Masses unavailable, that three-Mass record is history. On the other hand, I get notifications now on my phone and laptop for livestream Masses. Around when the coronavirus quarantine got serious, I would find myself not going to sleep until Pope Francis' Mass at Santa Marta in the Vatican.
It drives me a little crazy when we say Masses are canceled. Priests are still celebrating Masses. And this spiritual communion business is real.
On Palm Sunday, I happened to pray the Mass in Rome, on Fifth Avenue, a few blocks from the White House and in Phoenix. You can go to some websites with some incredible lists -- pray the Mass in Knock, Ireland, if you choose.
Praying remotely is one thing. But it's impossible to digitally receive the act of communion. But from day one of this inability to receive the Eucharist, I've become more and more keenly aware of my own unworthiness. Think about it: The creator of the world sends His only son to die for me so that I might have eternal life. It's absurd that I could ever deserve such a thing. I'm a weak human being, with all kind of flaws. But that's the magnificence of Holy Week and Easter, and way beyond. We have been made by Love, chosen to be gifted a faith that transcends whatever is going on in the world -- this gives meaning to all the suffering, this raises us up to greatness, because our lives do not depend on us overcoming every human flaw, but trusting in a creator who does the most amazing things for us in this valley of tears.
Now, I recognize that this isn't what everyone believes. But, gosh, when you have someone who truly believes this as a friend or neighbor, that's not a bad deal. When we truly believe, we can be good friends and neighbors. We could even amaze you with our love.
Don't we see it now, during this anxious time? A UPS driver delivered to me a package the other day. He seemed to want to smile, with the brightest of smiles. He seemed to want to show, simply by saying "Good morning," that there is hope -- he has hope -- that we need to be careful, but we also need to live and love one another.
Like many of us, I know people who have died, who have lost someone, who have fought and recovered from COVID-19. My life is made possible by people who haven't ceased putting themselves in harm's way. If there is only one thing that we learn from this quarantine time, may it be that everything good is a gift, and we are so much closer to one another and to the creator of us all than we realize when we are sucked up in the busyness of everyday life. If we are to learn anything from this fraught time, it must be a conscious decision, a choice. And it's a choice between the soul's life and death.
We know what we want, don't we?