An Open Letter from Lisa Martin to Fellow Catholics Who Haven’t Returned Since COVID Shutdown Began
Dear Beloved Child of God:
I miss you. We miss you. God misses you.
Last Sunday, I looked toward the back of church near the beginning of Mass. My heart fell. The building was not full. There were numerous empty seats. Before COVID, the pews at the 10 a.m. Mass were mostly full. But the real story isn’t about the building or the pews. The building is brick and mortar, the pews are wood. The real heartache is that our parish family isn’t whole. Too many people are missing. Please take a moment to read my letter and reflect on whether it speaks to you.
I miss you! I hear you saying it: “Sure you do. I don’t even know a Lisa Martin at my parish. You probably don’t know me or which Mass I used to attend. So, Lisa, how can you miss me?”
My answer: “I miss you because when you aren’t at Mass, the Body of Christ is lacking. There’s an emptiness that only you can fill. I don’t recall by name and face every person that I haven’t seen since the COVID shutdown began, but I know there is a void and I feel it. I’m sure parishioners who attend other Masses and other parishes feel the same void.
We miss you! As baptized Catholics, we are all members of one Church with Jesus as our head. We are a spiritual family. Just as with our own families, when one member is missing, the pieces don’t quite fit together. There is a loneliness, an incompleteness.
God misses you! In Baptism and the other Sacraments, God has chosen us and called us as His own. In the Mass, he speaks to us through His Word, the scriptures. He moves those words to seep into our souls and lead us to love. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus becomes physically and truly present to us in the Eucharist.
In addition, we are blessed at St. Francis to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation available at most weekend Masses. As Pope Francis has so eloquently said, “The Church is a field hospital for souls.” We are all in need of such a hospital. However, the hospital can’t heal us if we aren’t there.
Now, I have a question for you: Are you feeling a hole? Is something missing in your life? Have you found yourself struggling spiritually, mentally or emotionally since COVID began? Life has changed. Many of us have lost loved ones. Some have lost jobs. All have lost some sense of security for the health and well-being of those we love. Our country, the whole world really, is torn apart by division. God does not want us to walk this path alone. All these emotions will remain to some extent, but God will be with us to navigate through the tough times. He does this through the love of His Son, Jesus, who has already experienced the greatest physical and emotional suffering.
Do you miss us? Do you miss being a member of a spiritual family? Do you miss God’s physical presence and hearing His word proclaimed in a gathering of believers? Does your heart have an empty space like mine does? If so, please come back to Mass. We miss you, we need you, we love you!
God Bless You!
P.S. If you have not returned due to health concerns, we miss you, but we understand. Together we will keep the Body intact by praying for each other!