The conclusion of the 50-day Easter season is marked at Pentecost (May 31 this year), but, in some ways, the Easter season feels as though its continuing, with the recent resumption of public Masses in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and elsewhere across the United States.
On the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and 10 days after His bodily Ascension into heaven. The Catholic Church traces its history to Pentecost, with Peter as our first pope.
The Holy Spirit’s arrival was dramatic. He descended upon the apostles with wind and tongues of fire, giving them the ability to proclaim the Good News by simultaneously speaking in multiple languages. This astounded onlookers from many different countries gathered in Jerusalem.
The apostles had much to fear, not knowing what was going to happen after the passion and death of our Lord. They waited, as Jesus, instructed them, for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).
Today, in the midst of a pandemic, we are charged with a mission to continue to proclaim the Good News, as we pray for the Holy Spirit to give us a new boldness and to calm our fears.
It was disheartening that Catholics were unable to attend Mass in person during the entire Easter season. Livestreamed Masses have helped us to stay connected as the Body of Christ, but we know that it’s not been the same as a community joined together in person.
But now we give thanks for the return of public Masses, which commemorates Jesus’ eucharistic sacrifice. Through gifts of bread and wine, we believe that Jesus gave us His own Body and Blood, and not merely symbols. It truly is Jesus Christ, some “one” and not merely some “thing.” Catholics in this week’s edition noted their excitement and gratitude for being able to receive the Eucharist again after an extended absence from Mass.
Elsewhere, Catholics continue to worship the Eucharist outside of Mass through adoration. A recent outdoor eucharistic adoration held at St. Anselm Parish in Creve Coeur gave people the opportunity to be close to the Lord, especially in a time in which we must be diligent about maintaining social distancing.
“It’s a chance to be with the Lord, a reminder that some things don’t change,” said Bob Lozano, who attended adoration May 21.
St. John Paul II said that worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass is of “inestimable value” to the Church. We can be closer to Jesus through eucharistic adoration, which acknowledges the source and summit of our Catholic faith, in that He is entirely present in the Blessed Sacrament.
We empathize with Catholics who don’t yet feel comfortable returning to Mass. Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has noted that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until further notice. Parishes have been encouraged to remain connected with parishioners through livestreamed Masses and other methods of communication, as highlighted in recent editions of this newspaper. Acts of spiritual communion and constant prayer will help us to remain connected to Jesus.
Catholics such as Paige Byrne Shortal of St. Francis Borgia Parish in Washington also have expressed solidarity with Catholics for whom it is not safe to return, including those who are older or have health reasons.
“It’s one thing to long for community when everyone is staying distant,” she said. “But when some gather and others can’t, I think it’s going to make the longing more painful,” she said.
We continue to pray for one another that we remain connected to Jesus in these coming days, no matter were we are present — at church or at home.