In Troubled Times, Our Lord Is Constant
As I write to you this July, the events of the last five months seem to loom over all we do. Summer is here, but the long spring of 2020 seems to stretch on. We have been shut away in our homes, away from friends, away from classmates and co-workers, even away from our fellow parishioners. Time seemed to stretch out and pass differently in these months. The stress of a crisis can affect people in strange ways. The very certainties of our ordinary lives have been made uncertain. But in all of the confusion, concern, and worry in these last few months, we can see one thing, one person, who remains constant: Our Lord.
On March 27 of this year, Pope Francis walked into an empty St. Peter’s Square, carrying the Eucharist, to bless the city and the world. This extraordinary Urbi et orbi blessing was striking. And in the midst of chaos, seeing the empty square soaked in a spring rain while the Holy Father carried our Lord out for the blessing was awe-inspiring. In that moment, the pope called us to unite around the one thing that brings hope, peace, and love in the midst of all our trials. The Lord.
Here in the Diocese of Spokane, I have invoked a Year of the Eucharist and issued a pastoral letter on the Most Holy Eucharist. The initial plans for this year began with a proposal from lay staff at the diocese. As the plans began to develop, we witnessed the unfolding COVID crisis, first in the news and then in our communities. We wondered: “Is this still the right time for a year to celebrate and promote faith in the Eucharist?” The answer is clear to me: yes. In times of uncertainty, we need to lean on the Lord even more. In the midst of the storm, He is with us.
So in this Year of the Eucharist, I invite you to read my pastoral letter. Return to Mass when you are able, and turn to the Lord throughout your day and week. It is in this time of uncertainty we see our need for the Lord clearly. In our shared faith and communion in the Eucharist, we are bound together as a Church. I often reflect on this unity—which anticipates our unity in heaven—when I pray at the altar: “Lord, renew your Church which is in eastern Washington by the light of the Gospel. Strengthen the bond of unity between the faithful and the pastors of your people ... that in a world torn by strife, your people may shine forth as a prophetic sign of unity and concord.”
During this Year of the Eucharist, it is my hope that our faith as Christians may be strengthened by the Eucharist, and through the Eucharist, we may grown in our communion with one another.