6th June 2021
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh.
To describe the Church as Pope Francis did early in his pontificate as like a “field hospital” was somewhat startling at the time but on reflection is so obvious. The Church is less about perfection and more about healing and redemption of wounded humanity.
To-day we celebrate Corpus Christi – a celebration of the gift and blessing of the Holy Eucharistic / Holy Mass to the community of disciples across the centuries in countless and varied circumstances. This gift, in the words of Vatican II, is the source and summit of the sacramental life of the Church so much that we take regular Mass attendance as a measure of people’s practice. Equally, decline in Mass attendance, is taken to indicate decline in religious affiliation.
These past 15 months of the lockdown have raised serious questions for many about how seriously religious practice is viewed in secular circles. On the other side we have children and parents who are keen to celebrate 1st Communion and Confirmation. Into that overall scenario we have people surmising if people will come back after the threat of Covid is lifted?
Whether people return or not we do not know but it will not be for want of the invitation to connect again with one parish faith community. The reality is that on all kinds of levels we need each other. That is reflected in our personal presence to one another in prayer. Streaming has been and is great for those unable to be present but it is not Eucharist or Holy Mass in its fullest sense.
If Covid has taught us anything it is our need for solidarity, communion and connection. The divine spiritual dimension when nurtured enables that spark to ignite a new awakening and in some sense a new beginning. To describe the Church as like a “field hospital” is to recognise that there are a lot of wounded and suffering among us. Their wounds need to be bandaged, their spirits need the healing balm of a community that supports and respects them.
Sadly, all the talk is of re–firing the economy – undertaking a splurge of pent up savings – what kind of vision is that for the wounded? We will have learned nothing if that is the extent of our aspiration.
To-day we give thanks for the blessing of Holy Eucharist / Mass – for the constant strength and renewal it brings to life. Out of that abundance we enjoy we might extend the invitation to return and reconnect – not out of obligation rather an invitation to come to the well – to drink freely of the water that quenches the thirst and satisfies the hunger that can weaken and enfeeble our spirits.