From the Chapel — March 17: We’ll leave the light on for you

2 mins read
Our Sunday Visitor chapel. Scott Richert photo

Scott Richert“From the Chapel” is a series of short, daily reflections on life and faith in a time of uncertainty. As people across the world cope with the effects of the coronavirus — including the social isolation necessary to combat its spread — these reflections remind us of the hope that lies at the heart of the Gospel.

We celebrated Mass this St. Patrick’s Day, Msgr. Campion and I, once again in a darkened chapel. Just minutes before we walked down the hall to the chapel, we received notice that Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend had suspended all public Masses “until further notice.”

While ours was a private Mass, Monsignor made the prudent decision to make it the last one in the chapel. He will be celebrating his private Masses elsewhere without a server until public Masses can be resumed.

Bishop Rhoades’ letter to the faithful announcing the decision encouraged frequent acts of spiritual communion and praised those who have stepped up, as Catholics alway have, to perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy, especially for the sick and elderly. We need to pray harder more than ever, because circumstances have deprived us of the graces of the Eucharist, and the devil will take note of the opportunities that presents to him. But there are many graces to be received through spiritual communion and our cooperation with Christ in works of mercy. Even without the Mass, even without the Eucharist, the devil can only drag us down if we allow him to.

Want more coverage on coronavirus from a perspective of faith? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Tomorrow, the only lights in the chapel will once again be the sanctuary candle and the spotlight on the crucifix. But Christ will continue to be truly present there, as he is in the tabernacles of every Catholic church in this country and around the world. Many parishes are making the effort to keep their churches open for private prayer, and volunteers are disinfecting doors and other common surfaces throughout the day.

When we moved to Huntington, we felt particularly blessed to live within a half-block of both Catholic parishes in town. I walk past St. Mary’s twice a day, on the way to work and back again. But walking home today, I realized to my regret how infrequently I have stopped in, even just for a moment, to say a prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Throughout the coming weeks, we are all going to go a bit stir crazy as we practice social isolation in our own homes. We will be tempted to leave the house, if only for a few minutes, just because we will find it hard to stay inside any longer.

Let’s turn those temptations into a virtue. Find the nearest Catholic church — whether your parish or another — that’s still open during the day for private prayer. When you feel tempted to leave home, don’t go in search of yet another four-pack of toilet paper but head there, and spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Make an act of spiritual communion. Pray for the sick and the dying and the dead.

Let the devil know who’s boss, and draw closer to Christ in these coming weeks, even without the benefit of the Eucharist.

Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.

Scott P. Richert

Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.