The other day I opened up my Bible to Romans. My eyes fell upon the line, “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now…” It immediately struck a chord because I know I, along with others I’m sure, have felt like this during this time, groaning in travail, feeling the strain from trials and tribulations. It’s not that I hadn’t had any trials to deal with before this, but this has made certain parts of life more challenging at times, something I think many have experienced.
The virus going around isn’t a spiritual trial; however, the restrictions put in place because of it have made one. Public Mass has not happened in over 40 days, many parishes have been closed up just as long, and Confession is not available for the most part either. The way we stay spiritually nourished is not the same right now, and it no doubt affects our interior lives.
St. Paul talks of more than just trials, he also speaks of hope.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.Romans 8:22-26 RSV
Hope in the redemption is that by which we are saved. We do not see the redemption of ourselves because we are not there yet and so we can only hope for it. St. Paul goes on to say that if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience. As time stretches on into what could be another month, patience might become more challenging to practice. Since this hope saves us, we must do what we can to grow in it as we travail through this time.
Over 70 years ago, in a document called Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII instructed the faithful for when there is a time they can’t make it to communion.
She wishes in the first place that Christians — especially when they cannot easily receive holy communion should do so at least by desire, so that with renewed faith, reverence, humility and complete trust in the goodness of the divine Redeemer, they may be united to Him in the spirit of the most ardent charity.Mediator Dei §117
The Church understands that sometimes Holy Communion is not possible or accessible and so gives us direction as to what we should do. The Church says to do this by desire, what we know of as a spiritual communion. Pope Pius continues that this will bring us a renewed faith and complete trust in the goodness of the divine Redeemer. After speaking with family and friends through this, I’ve heard several times that it is hard to feel renewed even with what direction we have received, and I understand. All of us need to try to have complete trust in Christ right now and continue to place that trust in the Church as she tries to guide us right now.
The normal way we are spiritually nourished has changed for now. Just because the normal way is gone for a time does not mean there is no way. Keep trusting in the ways that we do have to reach out to Christ.
[Let] them pour out to that Merciful Heart that has known all the griefs of the human heart, the fullness of their sorrow, the steadfastness of their faith, the trust of their hope, the ardor of their charity.Caritate Christi Compulsi §31.