Happy Mother’s Day
One of my priest friends yesterday told me he was desperately looking for a See’s Chocolate Shop. “It’s my Mom’s favorite,” he explained. I hope all of us can deliver our mothers’ favorite treat today, a small token of our immense debt and love for them. This priest also told me that his bishop has asked everyone to deal with the closure of their churches by praying to Our Lady of Fatima. “When in doubt, talk about Our Lady of Fatima,” he said. In fact, Wednesday is her feast day, the 103rd anniversary of the first apparition in 1917. She came from heaven to bring us with her back to heaven. And that is what Our Lord says in today’s gospel.
Better that I go
Expedit vobis ut vadam…. “It is better for you that I go,” but literally “my going out expedites you,” from ex (out) and pedes (foot). My going out moves your “feet” out too. But where is the Lord going? He gently chides the apostles for not asking this fundamental question (“None of you have asked me ‘where are you going?’”). We need to know where we have come from and where we are going, our first principle and final end. We can choose (irrationally) not to return to God, entering a state of driftless isolation called hell. There is a terribly sad driftless look in many young people’s eyes today, a lack of purpose and direction. Most of them, thank God, find their way by before they reach fifty, but it takes people a lot longer to find their life’s purpose these days. Along with uncertainty of purpose, we suffer a sad isolation, a withdrawal from deep human relationships into a merely “virtual” reality, especially during this lockdown.
Christ himself left heaven to rescue us from meaninglessness and isolation. He then returned to heaven with the promise: “I go to prepare a place for you … I will come back again to take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” He calls us home; he presses us to His Sacred Heart. He also sends his Mother from heaven to bring us home. She too presses us to her heart.
Gathering her children
Our Lady at Fatima gathered 70,000 people in a muddy field to witness the miracle of the sun on Oct 13, 1917. The Mass—and all right religion--gathers people, calling them from isolation. Everyone realizes that the isolation imposed by the Virus is not healthy, but we must ask if blanket restrictions on entire populations is the best approach. Our leaders have deemed religion as non-essential, but they are wrong. Gathering people is certainly essential for a healthy social fabric. We need to be near each other as much as we need food and drink. I was in Costco the other day for an hour with hundreds of people, most of whom were a lot closer than six feet. We came together to gather our necessary food and drink as safely as we could—there is always a risk. I can guarantee you that fifty people at Mass in my very large church is safer than thousands of people in Costco every day. We need Costco, and we need the Mass. Both are worth the risk of contagion, because a far worse contagion is isolation. In the bigger picture, denying people the bread of life is a far greater risk to the common good, which is why the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion. Let us pray to God, and let us speak to our fellow citizens, in the words of the 3rd century Christians of North Africa when asked why they would rather die than give up the Mass: sine Dominico non possumus. “Without the things of the Lord, without the Mass, we cannot.” We cannot get up in the morning, we cannot go to work, we cannot enjoy healthy human relationships, we cannot sustain our society, without the Lord. The elder of that North African community, a man named Emeritus, explained to the Roman prefect that they would rather die than live without the Lord’s Supper. And they did die, but now they live with God, gathered around the table of his eternal banquet.