Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem – Eastern Lieutenancy
May the intersession of our Lady of Palestine keep us and our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land safe during these especially trying times.
Missing Mass on Sunday
An oft repeated conversation: “Father, I didn’t receive communion today because I couldn’t go to confession.” “Why?” “I’ve been home sick for a couple of weeks.” “Then, it’s not you fault. You don’t have to go to confession. You can receive communion.” “But, Father, it’s a mortal sin!” Here’s a Corona-virus-pandemic version of the conversation: “Father, I haven’t been very good. I didn’t go to Mass the past two Sundays.” “Why?” “There was no Mass to go to.” “Then, it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.” “I know, but I feel bad.” It’s natural to “feel bad” about missing Mass-it’s a defining practice of a “practicing Catholic”, and it’s a source of strength, consolation, and grace for the week ahead. Some people like to go to Mass more frequently, even every day. Some people like to go to Mass less frequently, perhaps only on special days like Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday, and Easter Sunday. The practical decision about suspending large group assemblies these days, even Masses, is understandable and makes sense-even though it doesn’t feel right at all, and I miss Mass. Okay, wait a minute. It’s upsetting. I don’t like it. Why do I have to “grin and bear it”? You don’t! How about some possible alternatives? Well, for instance, in the first great document of Vatican Council II, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy there was a very interesting and challenging statement:
. . . Christ is always present in his church, especially in liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass both in the person of his minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on cross,” and most of all in the eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the church. Lastly, he is present when the church prays and sings, for he has promised “where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20). Read it again, carefully, with this question in mind: How much of this is possible for me, at home? Anybody can be “in communion” with Christ by thoughtfully, reflectively, and prayerfully reading his word-whether the scriptural readings for the Sunday or other parts of the Gospels or Bible. Anybody living with another or others can be consoled by recalling that when two or more are gathered together in Christ’s name, he is there in the midst of them. Also, no priest is needed-the head of the household or any other can lead in readings, song, or prayer. Don’t forget, faith is usually born in the family and nourished by the example of other believers, even just a few. In his commandments to the Jewish people, God said to keep holy the seventh day-but it didn’t involve going to temple or synagogue to do it! Msgr. Robert L. Stern, KGCHS 29 March 2020 (Read more such reflections at rlstern.net)
Dear Knights and Dames,
Yesterday, in the interest of the health and safety of our members and staff, and with the guidance of our local health authorities, we made the decision to cancel all Order organized activities for the next 30 days. This will affect our upcoming Lenten Days of Reflection.
We have also decided to have myself and the office team work remotely at least for the next week. We are monitoring the phone lines and checking emails regularly, but I ask for your patience if the response time is a little slower than usual.
All other local activities in which members of the Order have been invited to participate will be decided on a case by case basis with the advice of the local Bishop and section representative.
I ask you all to keep our Brother and Sisters in the Holy Land in your prayers, especially the children. We remain in close contact with our partners on the ground. To receive updates, visit our website https://www.eohsjeastern.org or Facebook page.
With Love and Prayers,
H.E. Vicki Downey Lieutenant, DGCHS