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Presence: A gift beyond all measure

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Times are rapidly changing. We woke up one day and found ourselves in an alternate reality, a dream with no end in sight. Our mind ponders both the trial and blessings of this situation. Although there are many losses, such as the privilege of going to work and school, the deprivation we experience most is the loss of presence. The ability to be in the presence of family, friends and coworkers. 

Many have been creative in connecting with others via Zoom, Google Hangout, Facebook Live, Facetime and Skype. However, nothing can replace our ability to nudge a friend when a funny joke is told or give a hug to our grandparents. Perhaps the most difficult is the inability to be in the physical presence of Our Lord and receive him in the Eucharist.

Priests have done a spectacular job streaming talks, holy hours and Mass. Mass after Mass, spiritual communion after spiritual communion, we cannot help but reflect, "Lord, have I taken this profound mystery of your body, blood, soul and divinity for granted? Lord, have I taken you for granted?"

As we enter into Holy Week, we cannot help but think, did the apostles feel the same way? Did they know this particular Passover would be one of the last times spent in his presence? Would the apostles have been more determined to stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane, to watch and wait and pray with Jesus knowing he would soon be taken away? After his death, many of his apostles ran and hid in seclusion. 

This Lent provides us with a unique perspective as we ponder and pray about what happened on these most sacred of holy days we call the Triduum. Holy Thursday, Christ instituted the priesthood, instructing the apostles to, “Take and eat” his body and blood and to “do this in remembrance” of him. Jesus did not want us to be without him and so he gives us the Eucharist. Good Friday, he died for us to open the gates of heaven and to prepare a place for us. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, his advocate, to remind us of everything he said and did. Holy Saturday is a time of preparation as we watch and wait for the Resurrection. What makes this Lent so distinctive is that we too are experiencing a time of seclusion and separation from the presence of Our Lord. In a very real way, we join with the apostles as we watch and wait. 

What can we do during this time?

Pray to the Lord to increase your desire to love him more each day, and to prepare our hearts to receive him again.

Attend Mass online — some watch an online Mass and FaceTime friends to attend together.

Write a letter to thank your priest for celebrating the Mass for us daily. 

Find creative ways to prepare your family for Holy Week, like making unleavened bread, reading Bible stories, watching the life of Christ, doing live Stations of the Cross, or simply talking to your family about Holy Week. 

Jesus loves us so much. He died on the cross so each one of us could be with him. He gave us our beloved priests to consecrate his body and blood so we can receive him and to adore him in every tabernacle around the world. When this time of distancing is over, let’s always remain present to him. May we never again forget to stay awake and watch and wait with Our Lord. 

Piñon is the director of faith formation and evangelization programs for diocesan Office of Faith Formation.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020