Life for nearly everyone has been upended to some degree these days, and it can be easy to get swept away in a current of fear and anxiety, or to teeter out on the edges of loneliness. In times like these, when many things seem to be out of one’s control, turning (or returning) to daily, simple practices of prayer can provide a deep peace that only comes from opening oneself up to the grace and love of God.
In times of crisis, people often—rightly—turn to prayer. When confronted with the very real limitations of humanity, the natural response for many is to cry out to God for protection, for rescue, for comfort. At times, though, it can be difficult to find words to articulate these cries for help. Indeed, we may feel helpless in the face of it all. When that happens, the liturgy of the Church and the words of Scripture provide a lifeline to God. By giving ourselves over to the Word of God and the prayer of the Church, we are freed from the burden of trying to speak for ourselves when our hearts are heavy and our minds are weary, and we are united by the grace of the Holy Spirit to our brothers and sisters across time and space—indeed, united with Jesus Christ himself—by making these words our own as they did.
This Sunday, like many of my fellow Catholics, I’ll be participating in Mass via live-stream. This is a totally new experience for me, and, I suspect, will be a little strange. Many in Catholic media like Nick Mayrand (a participant in the McGrath Institute’s Strong Foundations for Pastoral Leaders program and writer at Crux) are asking how this might be done well. Here are a few things I’m personally going to try in order to make this mediated Mass more fruitful.
Topics: COVID-19 Resources
For many dioceses in the United States, as of today, public celebrations of the Mass have been suspended. In a post published just two days ago, Tim O’Malley affirmed that, even if we cannot attend Mass, we can still participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus, and indeed, that our sadness over not being able to attend Mass “is itself the Eucharistic sacrifice that many of the baptized will be called to offer.”
Editorial Note: This post is a part of our saint devotion series, in which one of our staff or faculty members explores their relationship with a particular saint. In honor of International Women's Day, we are highlighting female saints this week.
On my desk and bulletin board is a smattering of icons, statues, and a rotating collection of inspiring quotes and prayers. Amid this mish-mash are two images of a woman with whom I’ve had a strange relationship over the past 18 years: St. Hildegard of Bingen. One is a retablo by artist Lynn Garlick; the other, a woodcut by Julie Lonneman.
In the retablo, Hildegard holds a book and a feathered quill and looks up to heaven, where rays of light reach out in response to her gaze, penetrating her inquisitive mind. In the woodcut, Hildegard smiles serenely, eyes closed, as rays of light emanate from her head.
Both images speak to the active contemplation, or contemplative activity, which defined Hildegard’s life. No one who reads even a cursory biography could call her inactive: Hildegard composed music and dramas for her nuns to perform. She wrote poetry, as well as medical treatises offering remedies using plants and herbs. She traveled up and down the Rhine on a preaching tour during the latter years of her life—unheard of for a woman at that time (perhaps for our own time too). Men in power sought her counsel, including royals, clergy, even the Pope.