May 22, 2020

Reflection / John Shaughnessy

What is the deep longing of your life?

John ShaughnessyAt 24, Matthew Krach shared the one joy he has missed the most in the past two months.

It’s a longing shared by Catholics of all ages since mid-March when the coronavirus crisis forced the closing of all churches in the archdiocese—and many across the country—as a precaution against the spread of the deadly disease.

“Without question, what I have missed most has been my inability to receive the Eucharist and go to eucharistic adoration,” said Krach, a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis. “Only once before have I gone a month without reception of the Eucharist.”

To describe his desire to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, Krach used a word that isn’t often heard—“craved.”

“I craved reception of Communion then and now,” he said. “There is a reason Christ gave us his body and blood to be broken and shared until his second coming. We are body and soul, and we encounter others most fully when we can do so in person.

“God took on flesh so that we could more fully relate to him and grow in our union with him. When I can’t receive or be physically in his presence in adoration, I become aware that there is something missing.”

So Krach is thankful that many churches in the archdiocese have been re-opened, on a limited basis at this point, for the public celebration of the Eucharist.

“I am grateful to have this opportunity to re-ignite my desire for Communion.”

Krach’s comments reveal one of the blessings of the past two months that too often have been marked by heartbreak and tragedy. It’s also been a time when many of us have been forced to slow down from our usual, hectic, auto-pilot schedules, a time when we’ve been given the opportunity to consider and even re-evaluate what’s important in our lives.

What do I miss? What do I need? What have I taken for granted? Where do my attention and my focus need to be? What are my priorities? Do they need to change? Who are the people at the core of my life? Do I make them feel that way?

The opportunity to consider and re-evaluate our lives can also lead to questions of faith. What is my relationship with God? Do I want a deeper one? What do I need to do to move closer to him? Do I need to do more to reflect his love and compassion to other people?

These questions are timeless. So are the hope and the promise that Christ continues to offer us in the Eucharist.

For those of you who are fortunate to receive him into your body and your soul once again, cherish that opportunity with the renewed appreciation for the great gift it is.

For the rest of us, there is still the gift of the Prayer of Spiritual Communion. And the more I’ve said that prayer while participating in online Masses during this time, the more I’ve been drawn to two particular sentences in that prayer:

My Jesus,
I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you into my soul. . .
Never permit me to be separated from you.

In those two lines, we find the answer to many of the questions in our lives.

(John Shaughnessy is the assistant editor of The Criterion. This reflection has been adapted from his latest book, Then Something Wondrous Happened: Unlikely encounters and unexpected graces in search of a friendship with God.)

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