Shabbat Shalom

Note: I jotted this down in real time last Friday evening and didn’t get around to posting it.  Another week has passed with a new set of stresses and demands. May I be graced with the energy to get myself to Vespers tonight. I feel like going to Mass this evening and am marveling, a bit, that I feel this way. I also feel grateful that I live in a city where I could go to a 5:30 PM Mass on a Friday night–Shabbat shalom to me!

Don’t want to over-think why I’m feeling this ripple of longing, but suspect it might have to do with not being at church-the-building this week.

Never mind that I belong to a virtual community that prays the Daily Office, that I’ve participated almost every day and led prayers three times this week.  Never mind that unless I’m able to receive gluten-free Eucharist, something few Roman Catholic churches manage to provide, I’m buzzing with neuralgic pain within 40 minutes of receiving Communion. (In those moments, I still believe Jesus loves me, although I sometimes have my doubts about the Church.)

The sun is beginning to set. I’ve had a strange day, but one that wasn’t untypically so. I feel like going to Mass. And while I know darn well I won’t hoist myself off the couch, haul on appropriate clothing, get into the car and drive to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, I like knowing I could.  I like the feeling that I want to even more.

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Meredith Gould, PhD, is the author of seven books, including The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day, Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship, and The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today. She serves on the team at The Virtual Abbey and founded the Twitter chat for church social media (#chsocm).

9 COMMENTS

  1. Shalom Meredith,
    It is Sunday morning, the sun is shining and my Confirmation class is attending a retreat. I found myself searching the Loyola site and crashed into you YEAH! Wow, no words seem ever truer than your line ,”I still believe Jesus loves me, although I sometimes have my doubts about the Church.” Yes, yes and yes. I have been in discussion regarding the apathy of parents in regards to mass attendance and, by jove, I do believe you hit the nail on the head. So many parents are reluctant Catholics. I do believe the y are on the same page as you in their belief in God, just not with the Church. Thank you for that wise insight. Namaste, Laura

  2. What a beautiful post – thank you Meredith and thanks to Claire for the words “Eucharist of Desire.”
    I must admit that after feeling the euphoria of the initial post and comments, I was knocked back a bit by commenter Walt. I say this with all due respect, but Walt your comment feels (which does not mean it is, I am expressing how it feels to me) so filled with anger. Perhaps I am wrong, but that was my experience of reading.
    This not what I came to say, but on a practical note, I work at a church where we do have low-gluten (apparently so low as to not cause any reaction – even among one extremely sensitive celiac parishioner) hosts. These hosts are lovingly made by Benedictine nuns and it is a prayer to be able to make them available to our community; I am grateful for this privilege.
    In any case, good Eucharistic theology means that we come to give not just to receive, but as I understand it, good Eucharistic theology is dynamic and alive, like Jesus himself. As a result, it is about giving and receiving. Such an important event cannot be confined to a pious and linear formula.
    As for you assuming responsibility Walt, I will be very clear. This kind of self-righteous statement spells out what I find challenging among the pious… It puts all of the work and effort on you and others who are so “responsible.” This reminds me once again that no matter how responsible I am or not, all grace is freely and rather delightfully and abundantly given. My only “responsibility” in the end is to respond to this God who loves without measure… no matter how “responsible” I may choose or find myself able to be!

  3. Commiserations Meredith,
    As for the comments from Walt, I think he is being unduly callous. He doesn’t sound like he would be willing to carry a paralytic down through a roof either. Very poor empathy.
    Bless you Meredith and hope your desire continues. God be With You today and at all times.

  4. I’m surprised that you chose to derail an otherwise beautiful post with your snarky statement about your doubting that the Church loves you. I confess, I don’t know anything about having to live a gluten-free existence, but I truly feel sorry that you must endure that suffering in your life. However, your statement leads me to ponder as follows: Why do so many special needs Catholics expect to be served by the Church, and then, when they feel they are not served appropriately, complain about it? It reminds me of vegetarians or diabetics who come to a banquet and are miffed when there are no meatless entrees or sugarless desserts. Catholics should always have the attitude of Jesus: that they come to serve, not to be served. Catholics should focus on making a free gift of themselves while having only the good of the other as their goal. If I had to have gluten-free hosts (are there such things?), I would carry my own supply, and make arrangements with the celebrant prior to Mass. In some way, I would be proactive and make it happen myself, instead of putting the burden on the Church to accommodate my need. I would assume the responsibility myself. I would let almost nothing stop me from being able to receive the life-giving, grace-bestowing, Spirit-filling Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion.

    • Walt,
      First, so that you and anyone following this string has more information, I’m very fortunate to not have Celiac disease. Exposure to even a little bit of gluten only triggers my fibromyalgia, rendering me immobilized for what can be a full day. Only.
      You are right: I suppose I could “assume responsibility” and bring my own gluten-free hosts (yes, there are such things) in a pyx and place them on the altar.
      Nevertheless, what I find so deeply disquieting about your comment, is how you conflate health conditions (e.g., Celiac disease, diabetes) with lifestyle preferences (e.g., vegetarianism). Aren’t people with serious and sometimes life-threatening or significantly life-altering health conditions worthy of our compassion and perhaps even outreach (aka, ministry)?
      What you may not know is that churches are not required to be ADA (American With Disabilities Act) compliant. Therefore, following your argument, should someone whose mobility must be assisted by a big bulky motorized wheelchair “take responsibility” for underwriting the cost of constructing ramps and elevators or removing pews so that a power chair could fit?
      Would you cut from parish resources ministries serving Eucharist to the home bound and, instead, ask families and caregivers to “take responsibility” for bringing the consecrated Host back from church to give to a loved one?
      As for me and my house, I believe a Christ-like attitude of service includes seeing where there’s a need and seeking to meet it — for the glory of God and the comfort of God’s people.
      (Ezekiel 36:26).

  5. Thanks, Claire. I love your phrase, “Eucharist of desire.” I, too, could go to Mass at 12:15 and, for a while, managed to do so twice a week–because I was scheduled, which is one way to ensure spiritual disciplines, eh?
    These days, I either attend or lead Midday Prayer (Sext) via The Virtual Abbey on Twitter because I know darn well I’m not getting in the car to get to church–in my pjs.

  6. I like this post, Meredith.
    I can absolutely empathize with what you say. I have been wondering for a while now whether Eucharist of desire exists, the way baptism of desire does. If this is the case, then I receive the Eucharist much more often than I seem to do.
    Your talking about going to mass at 5:30 pm reminds me that I can go at 12:15. But I did not plan my day well enough for that.
    Thank you for this post.

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