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It has been five months now since we were able to celebrate the Eucharist together, in person.
I longingly remember the time when we greeted one another as we made our way into church. Sometimes with a simple nod, a handshake, a hug or a kiss and some friendly chatter.
I longingly remember The Basilica filled with our beloved community. I long for our grand processions; our wonderful music; the Word of God proclaimed so well by so many; the singing by the assembly unusually robust for a Catholic community.
I longingly remember joining fellow parishioners for after Mass hospitality when we commented on the homily, the choice of music, the liturgical décor, our lives and together we rejoiced in being part of our very energetic faith community.
I miss all of this and I wonder if this is coming back any time soon. Even as we gradually re-open for the celebration of the Eucharist everything is different. Our rich liturgical encounter that touched all the senses has been replaced with a highly sanitized version of what once was.
And yet, there is nothing that nourishes us Catholics more than the Eucharist and there is no better place to build up the Body or Christ, our community than in the Eucharist, even when we are limited to gather in a virtual way or in a highly sanitized physical way.
To augment the sense of community some people have set up “watch parties” to be present at the livestreamed Mass together. After Mass they sometimes stay for the traditional doughnuts and coffee, albeit in a virtual way.
The comment section on our Facebook page during the livestream of our Liturgies has proven to be a very welcome tool for people to interact and create community. Now, this electronic gift can also become a burden. Maybe we can use this tool more judiciously and hold off on commenting during certain parts of the Mass as the consecration on occasion seemed buried under the many comments.
We have also discovered that our parishioners not only miss our people, our liturgies and our ministries, they also The Basilica itself. Because we are not able to go to The Basilica we have decided to bring The Basilica to you. So we have created a new initiative called Art that Surrounds Us with weekly video vignettes about some of our most beloved works of sacred art and sacred shrines.
There is no text book that tells us exactly what to do. All of this is so new to us and things keep changing and evolving but we are doing the best we possibly can.
This is a challenging time but it is also a time to think outside the box. While taking health protocols seriously we strive to nourish the souls of our parishioners and we work hard to assure that our community stays connected through our liturgies. Never hesitate to let us know what we can do better.