Happy Returns

At last, we are able to once again receive the Most Holy Eucharist. Clearly not everyone is able to attend, but those who do, will do so in a very different way than to which we are accustomed and with a Mass that feels dramatically different from how our Sunday celebration has always felt.

There is really so much to say about how discussions among the servant leadership and with Fr. Steven have gone and how our plans to prepare for your return to the church have evolved and matured over the past month. However, those details are so much less interesting than to say simply:

Welcome back! We are so excited to be able to host you once again for the Lord’s Day, even if in deeply restricted capacity and in somewhat mournfully understated Masses (for a season).

For a quick update, we are working on installing systems that would sustain our ability to livestream our Mass, so whether home or abroad, due to illness or just to maintain a connection to our community, you will be able to watch our Liturgy, either live or at your convenience. This system would also enable us to stream other liturgies, such as Stations of the Cross, during Lent, which I’d recommend as a very powerful and worthwhile devotion for your Lenten prayer. We earnestly hope to realize those possibilities in the next handful of weeks.

As your music minister, I find it hard to express exactly how frustrated my heart is by the ways we can’t worship right now. For my part, I wish I could be more fully joyful in how we can worship together once again. This, for me, is actually worse than the past ten weeks, because I feel like my own worship is on a short leash.

For your safety and that of all of those with whom you come in contact, I understand why singing, among other expressions of faith and unity, must be suspended while we wait for this virus to abate. But, like a child made to eat vegetables, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Though we are called to refrain from singing for the time being, and our Liturgies will thus be more subdued, we can find greater peace in contemplation of the mysteries we observe during Mass. Though we can’t sit near those we might normally find ourselves nor, perhaps, in our favored pew, we can and should call to mind those in our parish family that can’t be present at all, due to either health risk or the shrunken number we can currently house safely.

Mostly, though we can’t approach the altar to receive the Lord in the same fashion to which we are used, we do have the opportunity to receive him in a new way. During this time of caution we are asked to receive in the hand only, to minimize potential transmission of viral particles. Also, Fr. Steven has noted that it’s surprisingly easier to distribute Communion to everyone while they’re kneeling, so that’s another adjustment we are being asked to make.

Whereas we may be used to other forms of reverent reception, these circumstances call us to receive in a specific manner until restrictions are loosened. For many, reception on the knees is actually the preferred posture, yet it is rare because of the perceived complication to procession. (However, I have seen several receive regularly in this way without any serious inconvenience.) That notwithstanding, and with no procession to Communion, kneeling will be the preferred posture for all of us, throughout these abnormal times.

There is a lot we should learn about ourselves from our knees. Perhaps most importantly, how helpless and dependent we are on Christ. We should all know more deeply what it means to receive from the Lord. To be receptive before Christ is to be on our knees at prayer, to be reliant on his provision, and to wait in hope. Let us use all these changes and challenges to become more willingly receptive of the Lord and his Divine Providence.

David Dunst
Director of Music and Liturgy

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