On Friday, the radio made it sound like the world was ending. The governor of Massachusetts banned any meeting of 250 or more people, including faith based/worship events. A little later, the archbishop of Boston suspended all Masses after 4:00 PM on Saturday. At that time, I got an email from the president of my Carmelite community saying we’d still be having our meeting and that anyone who was sick or vulnerable should stay home. She said we’d still be having Mass, and that it was likely the last Eucharist we’d have for a while.
In our monthly news letter, which she had sent earlier last week, she mentioned that a few of our members will be consecrating themselves to Saint Joseph; Jesus’ step father, and the protector of our Order, along with Mary. I prayed a lot on Friday night. After reading this, I said, “Saint Joseph, I don’t know you especially well, but please pray for us.”
After hearing the news on the radio, I wasn’t quite panicked, but I certainly was desperate. I am a small soul. I thought, “I’m not sure I can survive without the Eucharist. The Eucharist is soul-medicine; Jesus is our Divine Physician, and I’m spiritually sick.” That’s just a fact. I need Him. I remember thinking, “Okay, maybe we can go to Maine for the next few weekends.” It was a long shot on such short notice.
Thursday is the solemnity of Saint Joseph, so yesterday, we had a raffle to win a print. I didn’t enter the raffle because I don’t really have a place for it, and until Saturday, I didn’t really have any kind of devotion to Saint Joseph. Saints are very much alive in Heaven, and having a devotion to them is like developing a friendship with someone. We happen to go to Saint Joseph’s parish in Maine, but for months, that’s only been incidental.
After my Carmelite meetings each month, I go with my dad to Life Alive in Salem for lunch. It was a long shot, but I got in the car on Saturday, and suggested we go to Maine for the night. My dad asked why. I said, “Just ’cause… and we can go to Mass up there.” It seemed miraculous, but he agreed. I really do think that Saint Joseph had something to do with it because on Friday I said to the Lord, “I don’t care. I will go two hours to Maine to worship You.” I had thought about it. It screwed up my usual Saturday night routine.
It was just after sunrise as we drove to the monastery on Saturday. As we got on the highway, I remembered, “Oh yeah, the sky…” I looked out the window and hoped, and decided, “Fool’s Hope.” Naming the sky has become a habit. Even blue skies, unless they’re completely cloudless have different names. I praise my God because He honors a fool’s hope. Yesterday’s sky was so bright that it was almost white, not blue. I decided to call it “Faithfulness.” I didn’t think I’d make it to Maine. I had a plan if we didn’t end up in Maine. I could watch Mass online and make a spiritual communion, but it certainly isn’t the same.
When I initially heard the news on Friday I reminded myself that it isn’t about “what I get out of it,” it’s about the sacrifice; it’s about worshiping Him. It came to me later, too that even if I can’t go to Mass, I still pray the Liturgy of the Hours twice a day. It’s still Liturgy; it’s still worship. Even so, it is also about communion, with Him and with the rest of the Church, and the idea of going more than a week without the Eucharist is paralyzing. I almost couldn’t do anything on Friday because I was so freaked out. I couldn’t focus on writing. I couldn’t calm myself down with music. I had trouble even praying. If you can imagine being flung across the world away from the person you love most, and having to figure out how to get back to Him, that’s what it felt like.
Then I remembered something else. God got His people out of slavery in Egypt. He stayed faithful with them for forty years while they were trying to get to the Promised Land. He brought them back out of exile in Babylon. He became a man, suffered and died for us. He got us through plagues, schisms in the Church, two World Wars, and we’re still alive; the Catholic Church is still alive. I had named the sky “Faithfulness” yesterday, and this is why.
My mom said that “they’re” considering closing everything down; making everyone stay home. My dad is working from home for two weeks. I held my breath on Saturday for a moment because it was announced at Church that everything… except Mass was being canceled or postponed in Portland’s diocese. I keep having to say to myself, “It’s going to be okay. Just keep an eye on Portland’s news.” Pandemic is a scary word, and having to tell myself that it’s going to be okay is a little scary. The thing is, I wasn’t scared until Friday. Nothing but sin can truly cut me off from my Lord, but being cut off from Mass is at least intimidating.
The good thing is that Mass is still happening, even if I can’t physically be there. I can spiritually offer my sacrifice, and make a spiritual communion. I do believe that Saint Joseph prayed for me, and I’m going to keep asking him to pray with us and for us because our friends in Heaven are faithful, too. God is good and always faithful, and no matter what happens, He will get us through this. We might look a little worse for wear on the other side, but we’ll still be here, and He will be, too.