One or Two Ideas…

As I celebrated Mass this morning, as always sine populo, I was aware of a great feeling of gratitude to be at Mass and receiving the Sacrament.

Here in France, Italy and elsewhere, there can be no public Mass. We are spending as much time as possible at home in quarantine. The word comes from the forty days, not of Lent, but the time of the bubonic plague, thirty-seven days from infection to death. According to most scientific opinions, the time of SARS-CoV-2 which is the cause of COVID-19 is about two weeks at the outside, usually less than that. How coincidental that this quarantine coincides with Quadragesima, the forty days and nights Jesus spent in the desert before being tempted by the Devil!

To try to offer comfort to those who are having literally to give up religion for Lent, the most ironic asceticism, I can suggest that people take up the Divine Office from the Prayer Book or one of the traditional breviaries in Latin or English. You don’t need to be in church for that, simply at home at your little prayer corner or shrine.

There is then the notion of spiritual communion, like making one’s confession to God in the absence of a priest. This is a notion that is more common in Roman Catholicism than our Anglican tradition. Many things prevent us from receiving the Sacraments, especially being shut-in at home because of age or sickness or being in some canonical irregularity and still attending Mass without receiving Communion. Whatever, we can all be united with God through prayer. We express our desire to receive God even when we cannot receive the Sacraments. Priests too can fall ill and be prevented from celebrating Mass.

There is no single prescribed form. I can suggest that lay people can recite Mattins and Evensong (Lauds, Vespers and Compline) and use a form of prayer for Spiritual Communion as they prefer.

Here is a couple of examples of such a prayer for being at Mass without being able to receive Communion or being unable to be at Mass for any reason like the present epidemic. Lift up your thoughts with something like the following.

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.

At Thy feet, O my Jesus, I prostrate myself and I offer Thee repentance of my contrite heart, which is humbled in its nothingness and in Thy holy presence. I adore Thee in the Sacrament of Thy love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive Thee into the poor dwelling that my heart offers Thee. While waiting for the happiness of sacramental communion, I wish to possess Thee in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, since I, for my part, am coming to Thee! May Thy love embrace my whole being in life and in death. I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee. Amen.

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1 Response to One or Two Ideas…

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thank you for this!

    I was recently wondering if the Roman Breviary from before the reform of Pius X (which, for instance, the young Tolkien would probably have known – together with how many during how many centuries before him!) was scanned in the Internet Archive – and discovered there not only scans of the 1906 edition, bound together and in four separate parts, but also scans of The Roman Breviary: Reformed by Order of the Holy Oecumenical Council of Trent translated by John, Marquess of Bute (1879) in two volumes and in the 1908 four-volume edition. I also encountered scans of Breviary Offices from Lauds to Compline inclusive: Translated and arranged for use from the Sarum Book (1880) and The Lesser Hours of the Sarum Breviary (1889), as well as of The Hymner: Containing Translations of the Hymns from the Sarum Breviary together with Sundry Sequences & Processions (1905) – riming verse translations, in fact.

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