As we continue to move through this challenging time with COVID-19 I want to announce some more areas where we are restoring our sacramental life.
One of the areas is regarding funerals. The staff and I have been discussing this over the past couple weeks. Our policy up till now is to provide Prayers of Final Commendation with burial at the cemetery. We have not been providing funeral Masses because our musicians and funeral choir are older and we’ve been following the directives of the Diocese which discourages us from tapping into our vulnerable population. We have also been trying to work out how we would accommodate a possibly larger attendance at Mass with our limited space.
However, we think that we have been able to work out this issue. Kayla will be playing at funerals for the times being, and we have some other back-up musicians for the summer. So what we plan to do is offer an alternative to families. Families can choose to have a Liturgy of Christian Burial with burial at the cemetery or Prayers of Commendation and Burial at the cemetery as we have been doing. We will not be able with either option of providing a dinner after the burial. Regarding attendance at a funeral liturgy, we will be working with each family as to whom they would like to have at the Mass.
In several States, as well as here in East Lansing there have been recent outbreaks of COVID-19. There are currently 85 cases at present from the East Lansing Location. As of Thursday, June 25th across the U.S. there have been 40,184 new cases. That is why we are asking people to wear masks and social distance. We want to protect our people and stop any potential threat of passing on the virus. It is clear that as people who have ignored precautionary measures are contributing to this problem.
Again, I want to express my thanks to all the volunteers who have offered their time and help to the parish and all who continue to support our parish financially. We look forward to the day when we can return to our normal parish life. Please join our Holy Father, Pope Francis in praying the rosary for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
Is the Eucharist a Right or a Gift?
“How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes? You do see Him…He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment."
St. John Chrysostom
In this time of pandemic, when we have gone through a unique time in history where the Mass has not been celebrated publicly for a time, surely, this must cause all of us to ponder and reflect on the gift of the Eucharist.
The heart of our Catholic faith is the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Through this act of love and unity, we receive innumerable graces, and for this reason, it is important that we understand the significance of what we are doing when we join the Communion line.
The wonderful privilege we have been given as Catholics in receiving the Most Blessed Sacrament is sometimes lost to us. It becomes automatic, or even mechanical, and so it is easy to forget to meditate on the magnificence of receiving the real Body and Blood of Christ, and to show appropriate reverence while receiving this sacrament.
We should be prepared and worthy of this most precious gift; that is, to be in a state of grace. The Eucharist provides the soul with an outpouring of innumerable sacramental graces. In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: “O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us.” If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly blessing and grace," then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory (CCC 1402). When one is in a state of mortal sin, however, the person has deprived his or her soul of sacramental grace.
Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace (Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC #1861).
This deprivation of grace means that no further sacramental graces can be received until that original grace has been restored by means of Reconciliation. In fact, one can receive none of the sacraments (except for Baptism and Reconciliation) while in a state of mortal sin.
Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of His Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification (CCC # 1446).
We should also observe the Eucharistic fast and not eat or drink anything except water or medicines at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion. And always receive with reverence.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem instructed his congregation in the method of receiving the Eucharist by hand as far back as AD 390, and his beautiful words may help us understand what receiving in our hand really means:
“Make your hand as if a throne for the other, which is on the eve of receiving the King. And having hallowed
thy palm, receive the body of Christ saying after it, ‘Amen.’ Then after thou hast with carefulness hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the holy body, partake thereof… giving heed lest thou lose any of it; for what thou losest is a loss to thee… For tell me, if anyone gave thee gold dust, wouldst thou not with all precaution keep it fast, being on thy guard against losing any of it, and suffering loss?"
(Catechetical Lectures 23:22).
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, through the extraordinary gift of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, we “break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ.”
One last thing: Every time we go to Mass, we celebrate in thanksgiving that Jesus gave us the opportunity for salvation by shedding His body and blood on the Cross. We believe we are made present at the very sacrifice of Christ on Calvary at every Mass, which is why we often refer to it as: “The Sacrifice of the Mass.”
The Eucharist unites us with one another in community, and it strengthens us on our journey to the kingdom. Like all sacraments, it is a sign that God is with us on our pilgrimage.
St. Augustine said, “Believe what you see, see what you believe and become what you are: the Body of Christ.” When we say "Amen", we are saying "Yes! I believe this is the Body and Blood of Christ and that I will be the Body of Christ to others."
To be a Eucharistic people means to show reverence for the Body and Blood of Christ, to seek to be found in His grace, to fast and prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally for this gift, and to see that the Eucharist means that we share in His Mystical Body, the Church, and that we are called to “be” the body of Christ in the world, it must become the source of our everyday life.