Flashes of Insight Let's Talk Liturgy Can you send an apple by email? - Episode One
by Ray Lyons
I’ve never celebrated a ‘private mass’, or made a ‘spiritual communion’; to my mind, both are oxymorons, for ‘where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the middle of them’ (Mt 18:21). So the invitation to ‘participate’ in the Easter Liturgies or Sunday Mass via the internet is equally nonsensical to me. I let the invitation pass on the other side of the road.
To some I’m sure they bring comfort. Watching. Yes. But is it participation? Do we participate when we watch a TV programme? No. We are an audience, not a congregation, still less the Assembly called together. We are gathered around millions of TV screens but we have not come together. We may laugh, or shout, or scream, but no one beyond those beside us hears us. We may believe what we see, but we don’t take part.
We are living through an extraordinary time, mostly confined to our homes, with shops, businesses, even churches closed, sacraments unavailable. Pastoral care from the officials of the Church is patchy at best, mostly non-existent.
by Thomas O’Loughlin
This year millions of us are locked in our homes. We are not going out to work, not going out to play, going nowhere to socialise. It is – so long as we are virus free and not one of those who have to try and tackle it or have to stay at their posts to keep the basics running – a bit like a big blank space. A shapeless empty time between BF (‘Before the Virus’) a few weeks ago (aka ‘normality’) and AF (‘After the Virus’) which will begin … when? … soon? … when normality, we hope, returns.
This year we can use that sense of a ‘blank time between’ to appreciate a part of the Christian year we usually skip. The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is the great blank space in the liturgical year! Nothing seems to be happening: there are no special ceremonies, the Eucharist is never celebrated, and it is not even brought to the sick except as viaticum. In monastic communities the Liturgy of the Hours continues, but even here there is a sense of continuing the thoughts of Friday or a sense of simply waiting for the vigil that will herald in Easter. Most of the actual liturgical activity that does take place in communities is severely practical in nature: cleaning, polishing, preparing a fire, practicing ceremonies, arranging this and that – and complaining by the sacristan that some new idea just will not work because this is not how it is always done! But this gap in the liturgy has another value as a recollection of some aspects of our liturgy that are otherwise completely forgotten.