(The Feast of the Ascension has been transferred to the coming Sunday)
Here are our temporary Mass times at Saint Gabriel’s
beginning Monday – May 25th.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;
Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening & 10:00 AM Sunday morning.
On our “Blog Page” under Archives you can find a link to the entire letter being sent to our parishioners and friends regarding the temporary change in our Mass schedule to accommodate our return to regular celebration of the Eucharist due to the limitations the pandemic has imposed on us. It is a drastic change for a while but forces us to ask some deep questions not only about our worship but the rhythm of our lives which is centered in the Eucharist of Christ, primarily our Sunday Mass. Please plan what day of the week you and your family will participate in Mass. With the social distancing required, seating is limited (about 50+). Everyone cannot attend at the same time as usual on Sunday. Please respect these regulations for health sake — yours and the others.
So here are some initial faith questions that face us as we return to Mass. Attached are a few comments to help us to explore these areas with the hope that we shall come out ahead in our understanding of the faith and why we do what we do. God is behind this to bless us more.
First Big Question:
How will switching our Eucharist to another day of the week beside Sunday not only impact our going to Mass but also how will it affect our daily routine, e.g. work, household chores, our preparation for the Eucharist, how we live out our worship of God, how we pray?
Some comments: It is to God’s credit and the gift of faith he has given us that the Lord’s Day means so much to us. Our habit of Sunday Mass is so ingrained in us that we have felt an emptiness when it was not opened to us.
So how did it affect our work? Did we observe work days different from worship days? Did we distinguish servile work from time spent for God?
So how did it affect our routine around the house? Were there special meals to honor God? Did we still come together as a family and spend time together?
So how was our preparation Mass different? Did we put more time into reading and meditating on the scriptures? Were religious subjects more a part of family conversations?
So how did we live out in our daily lives what we usually “took home” from Mass?
So how was our personal prayer changed? Or was it? Did we change our routine and explore other ways of conversation with God?
Second Big Question:
How will our return to “live worship in person” make us and our worship more pleasing to God?
Some comments: Virtual worship through digital means has in many cases kept us in contact with the Church’s worship during two months of quarantine. But the Last Supper was not virtual worship of the Father through his Son Jesus Christ. Being in the presence of Jesus and hence in the presence of the Father in a personal encounter cannot be replaced by electronic means, even a video recording or presentation. This is what we have missed, even though we might not be able to explain it fully. One way of saying it might be that we are not virtual persons and the God we worship is not a virtual God. It has to be us, flesh and blood, who open our hearts in a loving and close way to the God who opens his heart to us in the Eucharistic mysteries. In this type of encounter we come away changed persons interiorly and God is glorified by the deepening of his presence within us. We show this through the liturgical actions of eating and drinking the Lord Jesus in his word and in his sacrament. Liturgy is “live” and we are part of the action, not in a virtual way but actual way in the midst of the Church gathered together. That is the “real” presence to Christ and to one another.
Third Big Question
Are we more or less holy than before? Is the Church and our Parish more in the image of Christ now? Can we detect an increase in our faith life for which we offer thanks to God?
Some comments: We easily get in trouble when we try to “measure” progress in our life in Christ. We are not going to give ourselves a report card. Rather can we point to something in our lives which indicates that our faith and love of God has matured more? In other words, do we understand any of the scriptures more deeply, e.g. in the daily readings assigned to Mass? Did the “light” of the Holy Spirit so touch us that we said: Ah, I never knew that before! e.g. Jesus said I am going to the Father and we replied What a wonderful way to speak of death. Did I find myself spending more time reflecting of whom Christ has made me in life? Am I amazed how much more others are dedicated to God in prayer throughout this quarantine time? How widespread are God’s gifts of grace? How much I have been blessed to be Catholic? What a treasure is the Eucharist? Did you resolve to enter in to the action of the Mass more the next time I get to go to church? Can I say that these last couple of months have been a gift of grace?
More to come.