It now seems very likely that we are not going to be able to gather again at the Sunday Eucharist for some time. As Catholics, the Sunday Eucharist is central to our lives but perhaps during these challenging times we might be able to broaden our understanding of the Eucharist by focusing on how Christ is present to us through some basic Christian practices.
Scripture Reading (lectio divina)
Fr David speaks here about how to access God’s Word and nourish our spiritual lives during these difficult weeks.
The method of the devout reading of the Scriptures known as lector divina developed in the early history of monasticism and has been carried on throughout the centuries. The goal was to help monks not only to know more perfectly the information contained in the Scriptures but also to let the Scriptures shape and nourish their spiritual lives.
This is a method you can use for half an hour or more.
- Read the biblical text slowly and reverently.
- Re-read the text noting those words you think are important or that speak to your life. Savour the whole experience and allow it to sink into the depths of your soul.
- Reflect on what the text might mean for you today.
- Ask the Lord for something and know that when you are asking, you are already praying.
- Do not merely ask but pray to God in praise and thanksgiving
- Discern what you should do in response to this text. “Lord, what do you want of me? What do you want me do for you?”
In another generation, Catholic homes were rich in religious symbols. A crucifix, a holy water stoup, a picture of the Sacred Heart, a statue of Mary or one of the saints, Last Supper scenes in the dining room. It is likely during these days that the focus in many homes will be the television set. There are so many attractive pieces of art including crucifixes, icons or tasteful images of Mary or favorite saints which we could introduce into our homes to remind us of our Christian identity.
If we are not thankful for the meals we share at home, we are less likely to be thankful for the gift of the Eucharist. Grace before meals (a short prayer of thanksgiving before eating) is an opportunity for simple prayer. Other opportunities might include morning and night prayers. Bedtime prayers with the younger children is a kind of domestic liturgy.
We have seen disturbing scenes on television of people stockpiling food and the most vulnerable left without basic supplies. We are living in the season of Lent; a time when we are encouraged to fast. Fasting especially on a Friday is another ancient practice and it is worth recalling during these days, that fasting was always linked to repentance.
Practising Care for Others
Reaching out in service to others has been a fundamental aspect of Christian life from the very beginning. During these days the power of compassion can take many forms in our local community. Already we have parishioners who are shopping for those who are unable to leave their homes. We also have parishioners who are unable to leave their homes staying in touch by phone or Skype recalling Matthew’s gospel: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Mt18:20). There are so many ways that we can practice the ministry of compassion.
These are just a few of the great practices that can remind us during these days that we are followers of Christ.