Dear suffering Church: Remember, we are an Easter people

3 mins read

Ava LalorLast Sunday, I sat on the floor of my bedroom before my little home altar, created from the shelf filled with spiritual books, and prayed before Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist via a livestreamed adoration chapel.

Since my first Communion, I could count on one hand the number of times I have missed Mass due to illness or extraordinary circumstances. In a way, it felt like this was the first Sunday I was physically away from church and Our Lord in the Eucharist. Yet somehow he gave me the grace to feel overfilled with the blessing to still spend time with him in prayer.

As I was perusing my bookshelf, looking for yet another book to add to my current reading list, I saw my copy of Bishop Robert Barron’s “Letter to a Suffering Church.” While the book speaks primarily in response to the horror and pain of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Church, I thought it was appropriate to read during this time of Lenten suffering as we endure this separation from our normal participation in Church life.

I was most struck by the message near the end where Bishop Barron urged priests and laity to rise up. He writes: “A renewal of the priesthood is imperative. … And the needed renewal must be broader still, very much including lay men and women. … All of us Catholics ought to appreciate this painful time, therefore, as an invitation to rediscover and to deepen our own baptismal identity as priests, prophets and kings. Priests are those who are committed, all the way down, to holiness of life; prophets are those who have dedicated themselves to proclaiming Christ to everybody; and kings are those who are resolved to order the world, as far as they can, to God’s purposes.”

He continues: “What does it say about the priestly resolve of the baptized in this country that 75% of us regularly stay away from Mass, that prayer which Vatican II described as ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’? … And what does it say about our prophetic effectiveness that young people are abandoning our Church in droves? … And what does it say about our effectiveness as kings … when poll after poll reveals that, on the major moral issues under discussion today, Catholics more or less track with the secularish consensus?”

These words ring just as true amid our current pandemic and our life away from the Eucharist. Now is the time to take up our calling as priest, prophet and king, to embrace our baptismal calling and live fully for the Lord. Now is the time to become saints — men and women who know their home is heaven, that the Church has the answer to the desire of our hearts, and who can’t help but share this good news. And right now, we have the perfect opportunity to take this challenge seriously.

For now is the time for priests to commit to being shepherds, and many are — livestreaming Mass, adoration, Rosaries, chaplets and talks to nourish their parishioners in this time of isolation and distance from the sacraments.

And now is the time for families and laypeople to rise up and commit to being a domestic church and live out the Faith in their own homes. Now is the time for parents to set the example for their kids by taking more time for family prayer and instilling in them a desire for the Eucharist. Now is the time to inspire religious vocations.

And now is the time for single men and women of all ages to embrace the time they have been given to grow in intimacy with Our Lord, who is completely available to us. Sit in the silence and let him console your heart.

After Jesus rose on Easter Sunday, Peter and John rushed to the tomb. There was joy and hope, but there was also fear and uncertainty. The same happened after the Ascension. Their beloved Lord was leaving them, and they only had a glimmer of what to do next. So, too, do we feel this uncertainty now. Our Lord is risen, but we may not experience the joy we expected.

Much of the first Easter season was spent in the Upper Room. Likewise, we now find ourselves confined to our homes. But, my dear friends, we now know the full revelation of the Resurrection. We are an Easter people, and our joy must not be contained! Christ has redeemed the world! We may not experience the Resurrection from our current crisis immediately, but take heart. Now is our time to rush to the tomb, eager to bring our hearts and our world back to God.

Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.

Ava Lalor

Ava Lalor is associate editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.