Discernment During the Pandemic

Am I called to go to church to receive communion next weekend?

One question that confronts all of us in the Diocese of Green Bay is, Am I called to go to church to receive Holy Communion next weekend? Depending on the course of the pandemic, this is a question we may be asking for a while.

Up until a few months ago, the answer to this question was clear. Yes! In fact, you are expected to go to Mass every weekend unless you are ill or have another serious reason. However, we are in a different situation now. No one is required to go to Mass or receive Holy Communion. In the serious situation we find ourselves in, the Church has suspended the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. In fact, public Masses are not taking place. Church authorities are allowing celebrations with very small groups but they are the exception. Slowing the pandemic is an important common good and has led our church authorities to act with wisdom and prudence. (As a side note, it is important to recognize that it is the church authorities, not political authorities, who are guiding our actions at St. Thomas More).

If you are reading this Log, I assume that you have the desire to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. That is wonderful! You know what a treasure the eucharist is and long to receive Jesus in this sacrament. But desire isn’t the only factor in discernment. We may have a strong desire for something good, but that does not mean that God is calling us to that good. We hear God’s call through our desires and through our entire situation in life.

For example, when I was in seminary I met many men who had a desire to be a priest. This was a good and holy desire. But the time in seminary helped them discern if they were in fact called to be a priest. Maybe the person didn’t have the abilities or skills a priest must have. Maybe it became clear they had other obligations and could not serve as a priest. Not everyone who attends seminary becomes a priest or is called to become a priest. There are some obvious cases where someone may desire the priesthood, but not be called. An example of an obvious case is a married man who has a desire to be a priest. His desire is for a wonderful gift, but it is not the only factor to consider. He is not called.

If it is about more than my desire to receive Jesus in the sacrament, how do I know if I am called to receive Holy Communion?

Here are some situational factors to consider regarding this calling:

  • Age – The church is encouraging anyone over the age of 65 to stay home.
  • Illness – If you are sick or exhibiting any symptoms of illness you should stay home. This is the obvious case.
  • Health – Am I in a high-risk group (e.g. Immunocompromised, diabetes, asthma, HIV, or liver, lung or heart disease)? – If you are at a higher risk, you are also being encouraged to stay home.
  • Work – Do I work in a field that puts me at risk of carrying the disease without being aware of it?
  • Past contacts – How likely is it that I have been in contact with someone who may have the disease?
  • Future contacts – Who am I likely to see in the next few weeks who would be at risk?
  • Behaviors – Have I been washing my hands, practicing social distancing, and following the other recommendations from health professionals?

Only you can discern if you are called to receive Communion. For many of us, the desire is great. We all long to encounter Jesus in the sacraments again. However, a risk factor or caring for another person may leave us short of being called to receive the eucharist this weekend. That’s okay.

Even if we are not called to receive communion this weekend, we are all called to encounter Jesus in some way (live stream Mass, praying with family, rosary, reading scripture… ). May the Holy Spirit guide each of us as we discern how we will encounter Christ during this time of pandemic. One day, we will be reunited and celebrate the liturgy with great joy.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

3 thoughts on “Discernment During the Pandemic

  1. Linda Gleason says:

    In the area about age. Did you mean to say encouraging rather than discouraging?

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