Going back to Mass in a pandemic

Absolutely nothing will revitalize a discouraged church faster than rediscovering it’s purpose.—Rick Warren

I know not everyone can relate to the anxiety that comes with going to Mass right now, but if you can, I hope you know you are not alone. There are many factors to consider if you are at high risk of contracting COVID, or if you spend time with someone who is, or have children, etc. How are parishes implementing COVID restrictions? Do I need to register? Will there be enough seats? What if I get COVID What if I give COVID to someone else? These things might seem silly to some, but I find myself asking questions of this nature prior to every Mass. I can understand why some have not returned yet. What does God call us to do when we feel this way? Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest.”  

Day of rest

When God created the universe, He knew how important it was to find rest when our work was done (Gen 2:1-3). Self-care is a new name for finding rest, but time to be loved and cherished is something God set aside when He created time itself. God valued the importance of work as much as He did the importance of rest. When life gets hard, it can be easy to assume God will understand if we take a few days off from our prayer life. But the days we are most tired and most overwhelmed are the days we need Him the most. “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer” (Corrie Ten Boom).

Mass can seem overwhelming, but we need the Eucharist

We all want to have energy, to feel good and to enjoy life in the bodies we have been given. Some of us don’t always make great food choices, and sometimes we fail to exercise. To get back on track, we have to do the work. Sometimes, I try to avoid things that take effort and exertion. I will eat healthy for a meal or go for a long walk only to get on the scale the next day and be discouraged that there’s no change. 

The same way one meal and one hour a week isn’t enough to nourish our bodies, one hour a week isn’t enough to nourish our souls, either. Like a health plan, we need to be consistent in our efforts toward a deeper relationship with God. In making that effort, we will begin to see who God is and all that His love can do to better our lives on this earth. We need prayer, and we need the Eucharist. “The Holy Eucharist is our most powerful prayer.” (Fr. John Hardon)

Our purpose 

Corrie Ten Boom reminds us, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” Our purpose in this world is so much more than to overcome obstacles. Our purpose is to encounter Christ. My Baltimore Catechism questions still ring in my mind when I am asked why God made me: “We were made to know, love, and serve God in this world so we can be happy with Him in the next.” 

How do we trust God in a pandemic? 

“Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). I sit down to write some days and am discouraged that I do not have many good things to say about being Catholic, or living in times that feel chaotic. Finding peace when we are bombarded with competing messages of fear and hate is hard. Give God a chance. Wherever you are right now, take one step closer to Him. Go to Mass, pray the rosary, read the Bible, go to adoration, go to confession, give to the poor, or do something that’s right for you. You won’t find peace in the storm of life without God, nor will you find God without prayer. And our greatest prayer is the Mass. 

Mary Morasso is a mother and parishioner of SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights. She holds a bachelor's degree in pastoral theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary and has taught theology at the high school level.