Missing you already
We are two weeks in to the shutdown of our church community. At first, I didn’t take it seriously enough — I thought that a couple of weeks off would be a welcome opportunity to catch up with lots of paperwork and other things I’ve been postponing for a long time. But now I have to say I am missing everyone so much. Normally on a Saturday evening I am thinking about the Mass the next day.
Sunday morning, the sacristy is organised chaos — all the altar servers arrive, talk, shout at each other, and somehow have to be organised into a functioning team. It happens. It’s a miracle, but it happens each week. I miss that so much.
When we process into the church and sing the opening hymn, I really miss the smiles, the high-fives, the sense of a vibrant, living, worshipping community.
I miss incensing the altar, that symbolic entrance into sacred space, signifying that we are not just a social club, but a people gathered to worship. I miss that so much.
And inviting the children to come forward for their own liturgy, their own part of the Mass — hearing the word of God and taking it to heart, thanks to their teachers and accompaniers. It always gives me great joy to welcome them back and to pray the Our Father with them — the children, their parents, grandparents, and sometimes great-grandparents. We could take this for granted, but we are privileged when it happens in our midst.
I miss the music, our music group, our singing together… I miss it so much — it is so uplifting, so expressive, so nourishing. The sooner we can sing together again, the better for all of us.
I miss sharing the word of God, attempting to open up the scriptures, trying to impart something of value, trying to engage in spiritual conversation with our huge, multicultural and richly mixed congregation. I can preach online, of course, but it’s not the same.
And the little conversations we have after Mass — necessarily short — they keep us in touch with each other, and when we can’t have them, we suffer a little.
I miss receiving Communion with you — the bread, consecrated and broken and shared, the wine consecrated and given to each of us. In my 30+ years of being a priest, I have never celebrated Mass by myself — I don’t believe in doing so. So when I am not with you, I too am deprived of the Eucharist. I don’t see you coming forward to receive sacramentally the Body and Blood of the Lord. I know so many of you, and rejoice when you come forward.
After Mass has ended, we share tea and coffee together. The music group continue with the rehearsals for the children’s choir. There may be meetings going on, Arepadas in the garden room. Now, the church, the garden room and all the rooms are empty.
This may sound like a litany of despair, but it is far from that. Our First Communion classes (more than 60 children this year), our Confirmation classes (more than 40 young adults), our Marriage Preparation classes (generally 48 couples each year) are a sign to us that our pastoral life is going forward. We will learn how to meet online when we can’t meet in person; our Christian Meditation group is already continuing on Zoom (video-conferencing software).
We are a community of hope — if not, we are nothing, we are failing in our mission, but I am confident we have faith and hope. My prayer/wish is that we stay strong, join in online when we can, that we pray for each other. I miss you so much at the moment, we miss each other — so we accept the challenge to stay close to the Lord, to pray for each other, to ask Our Lady’s help, and to help our neighbour in their need.
Missing you, and wishing you every blessing,