– Fr Leonard Dollentas
Macau’s often crowded streets, shopping areas, and parks had unexpectedly been quiet over the past days. The movement of locals and the big number of foreign workers have grounded to an almost complete halt as attention focuses on how to avoid COVID–19. Suddenly, Macau is more peaceful and more pleasant. But the events, however, brought sadness to a number of people for a different reason.
In view of the evolving situation and following the preventive measures laid out by the Macau authorities against the spread of the coronavirus, public gatherings and everts have been temporality cancelled. The local church has likewise decided to cancel indefinitely all public Masses. For the past two Sundays and weekdays, Masses have been conducted on-line. Churchgoers, especially those who are not used to participating in online Masses, expressed their sadness at not being able to participate physically in the Masses conducted in their churches. Most churchgoers admitted that they experienced for the first time how the homebound and the infirm fulfill their Sunday obligations at home with Mass on television.
In the midst of this situation, let us remind ourselves that the longing for the Mass to be celebrated again in public shows not only a commitment to fulfill an obligation but also an opportunity to show our zealous devotion and commitment to God. The servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said, “If you don’t get anything out of Mass, it’s because you don’t bring the right expectations to it.” He explained that the Mass is a worship of the God who made us and saves us. It has been and always will be an opportunity to praise God and thank Him for all that He has done for us.
If we have a correct understanding of Mass and the right devotion to it, even if it is online or on the TV, because of some circumstances, the Mass will always be meaningful for us. We will still want to participate and be part of it. It is not the obligation that makes the Mass important – it is Gods ultimate love and mercy that we partake of during the Mass. Having this as our reason for worship, we will understand why the Mass is God’s precious gift to us, and we wouldn’t think of refusing that gift.
St Josemaría Escrivá’s inspiring words once again remind us: “A man who fails to love the Mass fails to love Christ. We must make an effort to ‘live’ the Mass with calm and serenity, with devotion and affection.”
Macau’s Catholics are encouraged to continue to pray for the situation to be placed under control, so we can enthusiastically and meaningfully partake once again in the Masses in our churches.