Staying Hungry in the Time of Corona

Fasting from the Eucharist?

Who knew this would be our Lenten fast in 2020, the pinch of this hunger?

The corona virus has shifted our Eucharistic life online. An invisible community around our separate screens replaces – expands – the tangible community around the altar.

Not all bad, for a time, to sense the invisible but very real spiritual bonds that unite us, always, with the entire Body of Christ. Not bad to be reminded, as our Marie Chantal reminded me, that daily Mass is an impossibility in many places, including her homeland, Congo.

I welcome that expansion and that solidarity, among the varied lessons we are learning from the corona virus.

But… not sharing in the Lord’s Supper! That “fasting” I will not accept, will not accept as normal. I will remain hungry.

In St. Angela Merici’s day the laity did not typically partake of the Body of Christ, of the Blood of Christ. Angela left three clues to her persistent hunger.

  • The desire to receive more frequently as a member of the Third Order drew her to become a Secular Franciscan in young adulthood, as she later recounted to friends.
  • “A communion of the spirit” is the aspiration she recommended to her daughters, whose Eucharist could not include Communion. She wanted them/us to experience deep interior union with Christ, though sacramental reception was impossible.
  • Angela directed the Company’s leaders to arrange for a monthly Communion service, a highly unusual privilege.

Fasting…. feasting. By a linguistic accident in English, only one letter differentiates these two words: E. In this time of fasting from Eucharist, I want to stay hungry for the sacrament. If I accept the fast as normal, when it ends I won’t be hungry enough to FEAST.


Fourteenth-century illumination of a French manuscript

Fourteenth-century illumination of a French manuscript



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