I wanted to say that I’ll be returning to serve at Sunday masses, after a five-month absence, starting March 21st, the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been staying away from mass this Covid winter to minimize the risk to my new grandson and my mother and father-in-law. I know many of you have been staying away, too. But Barb and I have just gotten the second dose of the vaccine and are now waiting the two weeks for it take full effect, and then, though I’ll keep masking and social-distancing, I’ll feel safe coming back.
We were able to get the vaccine so early, in fact, because we’re taking care of our now five-month-old grandson during the week, now that our son and his wife have gone back to work.
We qualify as childcare providers!
I urge all of you to get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible, for your own sake and the sake of others. My experience getting it was really quite good. It was an experience of democracy, of all these people coming together, and of the skill and generosity of doctors and nurses, and of organization and good planning and efficiency. I’m very grateful for it, and I pray that soon everyone will get vaccinated and we can all turn the corner on the pandemic.
I also wanted to share something else.
In these several months away from mass, a phrase has been coming into my head, again and again, a phrase from one of my favorite poems, Wordsworth’s great Tintern Abbey. It just keeps occurring to me:
and I have felt a presence . . . a sense sublime
of something far more deeply interfused,
whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
and the round ocean, and the living air,
and the blue sky, and the mind of man,
a motion and a spirit that . . .
rolls through all things.
Something far more deeply interfused.
My sense of this has been much quieter than Wordsworth’s, and only off and on. It’s like a warmth sometimes. A glow. But it’s there, and it’s real, and as a Christian I believe it’s a sign not of something but of someone, a sign of the presence of Christ himself, in whom “we live and move and have our being,” as St. Paul says in Acts—in whom “everything continues in being,” as Colossians puts it, in that great hymn:
All were created through him;
all were created for him.
He is before all that is.
In him everything continues in being.
This has been the gift of these last several months for me, this sense of Christ present in all things, in every moment, this sense of a love that binds all things together, rocks and birds and trees, and you and me and my new grandson, and all who have died and all who are living.
This is what the Eucharist celebrates and this is what happens through the Eucharist and what spreads out from the Eucharist, this creativity and this power and this love, and this is why we all long to return to mass, why we all long to join in the liturgy again, where we can enter into the very heart of this.
In the words of the preface to the second Eucharistic Prayer, “it is truly right and just . . . always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, your Word through whom you created all things.”
And then the Sanctus follows, right after this: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of your glory!”
We all proclaim this, the sacramentary says, “with one voice.”