Recently, while I was celebrating Mass for the Missionaries of Charity in Port au Prince, Haiti, a four-year- old boy came up to me as I was listening to the First Reading being proclaimed. He pointed to the Crucifix on the wall above me. The Mass was celebrated in English. The child doesn’t speak English, but he understood that the celebration of Eucharist was about Jesus. Jesus who sacrificed His life on the cross for us, gave us this great Sacrament, truly His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Eucharist, the Second Vatican Council tells us, is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium 11). The Eucharist is spiritual nourishment for our journey of life through good times and trying times.
Whether in Norwich, Port au Prince, Rome or anywhere else in the world, the same Eucharist is celebrated. Whether in English, Haitian Creole, French, Latin or other languages, the same command of Jesus is fulfilled when at the Last Supper He took bread and wine, declared them to be His Body and Blood and told His disciples “to do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19).
With the terrible scourge of the coronavirus going on throughout the world, with the scourge of poverty and political instability continuing here in Haiti and other places, this is a time to truly turn to the Lord in prayer for ourselves and for the world. In America, and many other places in the world, the public celebration of the Eucharist has been suspended because of public health concerns. We can participate in the Mass being celebrated on television and the internet. We can listen to the scriptures being proclaimed, we can make spiritual communion. God is all powerful. We can pray for Him to lift this great burden from us and return our lives to normal. Our priests are praying for us.
Jesus gave us the Eucharist on the night before His passion and death made in atonement for our sins. But suffering and death was not the end of Jesus’ existence. He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday to everlasting life! He has promised us everlasting life, too, if we are faithful to Him. So let us rejoice at Easter knowing that even if we cannot publicly celebrate the Eucharist together, we can rejoice in what our Savior has done for us. Alleluia!
By Father Frank Rouleau
Chaplain, Outreach to Haiti