Our lives have been turned upside down by a virus we knew very little about. It has been over a year of confusion, isolation and stress. We have had to change how we go about our lives, and we have given up control over some basic aspects of our daily living. We have had to re-evaluate what is important to us. We lost loved ones and friends and many of us were separated from our ultimate connection to Christ, through the reception of the Eucharist.
You see, for the first time in our lives, many of us have been away from weekly, if not daily, reception of the Holy Eucharist. We have found ourselves hungering for the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, and challenged to engage in ways to stay connected with him and with one another, outside of our traditional gathering at his table. These efforts to remain connected have been difficult; and yet our hope remained that we would one day gather again to fully celebrate the Lord’s Supper as he intended.
Personally, as a priest, and now as a bishop, I was never separated from the Eucharist, but I experienced the tremendous distance from the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church. I will never forget the days of celebrating Mass alone – looking only at my cell phone/camera. The Church’s liturgy is not meant to be celebrated alone. We become Church when we gather for the Eucharist, for it is in the Sacrament of the Altar that we find our connection to one another and to the larger Body of Christ.
Now that we’ve taken necessary steps to protect ourselves, with the extraordinary sacrifices made by our health care professionals and with the aid of vaccines now readily accessible, our time of distance from each other and from the Eucharist is at an end. It is with joy, therefore, that we are able to lift the dispensation effective on August 15, and invite people back to the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.
We can once again become what we receive. We can become the Body of Christ, nourished by the Eucharist, formed by the Word of God, strengthened by the Holy Spirit. I invite you – Come to the Table!
Most Rev. Robert W. Marshall, Jr., Bishop of Alexandria