I hope this finds you all well, not suffering from the caronavirus, nor going stir-crazy from home seclusion with either your family, your pet, or just yourself. All of those options have their particular benefits and challenges. I am spending much more time in contact with five brother Paulists, and I must say so far it has been going quite well. Better than I expected if I am honest about it. Ask me again after a month.
This will be a particularly unusual Passion/Palm Sunday. There will be no blessing of palms. No weaving of crosses out of palms. No gathering in front of the Harry Ransom Center with the congregation from University Catholic Center for the blessing of palms and processions to our respective worship areas. That is particularly disappointing because this is the last Palm Sunday with my brother Paulists staffing the University Catholic Center. It is a shame. (You can take that several different ways!)
This weekend was also to have been the weekend our parish religious education program and our school’s second grade celebrated First Holy Communion. This must be a bitter disappointment to the 65 second graders who were anticipating their first reception of the Body and Blood of Christ this weekend. And possibly disappointed because they are not able to get all dressed up for their First Holy Communion with all their classmates. And perhaps even some disappointment in not receiving any presents they expected. In many ways it is a shame.
Of course this does NOT mean that they are denied the Eucharist forever. It just means we need to wait until it is SAFE for us to congregate and worship as a body of believers. Maybe that will be in a month or two. Hopefully it will be soon. So while the festive and party aspects of First Holy Communion may be downplayed, when it finally does occur, the much more important spiritual aspect of Holy Communion will be just as real, just as meaningful, just as formative and just as powerful as if we celebrated it on the original schedule. In some ways this delay may increase the first communicants longing for this wonderful gift. I hope that not being able to receive the Eucharist every Sunday is increasing in you a greater appreciation of what a gift the Sunday Eucharist is. Unfortunately, we need to lose somethings in order to better appreciate what value and importance they have. We all look forward to when we can again gather in church as the body of Christ, to receive the Body of Christ.