This week in Pastoral Answers, Monsignor Charles Pope answers the question: Did Jesus always know…
Maybe it’s time to have brunch with Jesus
Like the rest of my week, my Sunday mornings have been transformed.
A little over a month ago, I wrote about how I was treating each Eucharist as if it was my last for the time being, and how I felt that God was closer to us than ever during this difficult time of being separated from our Eucharistic Lord.
Well, after Easter, the grace — or maybe just the newness — of the situation wore off. For many weeks, I had been content to continue my weekly habits: daily and Sunday Mass (now from my bedroom) and zoom chats with my young adult community (again, from my bedroom). The ability to tune in with my parish or other faith communities whenever I wanted was a gift for which I kept thanking God.
But, like many people I’ve talked to or seen posting on social media, it has been difficult to persevere after Easter Sunday came and went. While we knew this new normal would continue after Easter, many of us harbored a hope — maybe even unconsciously — that something would change or lighten up during the season of resurrection. But the pandemic was not suddenly gone, and we still had to continue worshipping and working and socializing from our homes.
So while the first few weeks of following the stay-at-home order included participating in a livestreamed Mass via my computer placed atop my home altar decorated with flowers and candles, the current reality is a bit less dignified. Instead of sitting upright in a chair and kneeling when appropriate, I am often sitting on the floor throughout the Mass. The candles are unlit, and the flowers are dead. When my parish livestreamed adoration one evening, I found myself lying on the floor, my head propped up by pillows as I gazed on the monstrance displayed on my screen.
It may seem irreverent, but some days that is all my soul can take. The energy and grace that originally propelled me to continue my daily habits are now drained to the bottom. And I’ve had to accept that this is OK. Because as we all know — especially those of you who are married and/or have kids — choosing to love takes energy. It can drain you until all you can do is lie there on the floor, vulnerable.
That is how I feel right now with God. I have tried to love well by choosing to spend time with him in this new normal. I have tried to love well by hopping on zoom chat after zoom chat with other young adults who are even more isolated than I am. And while I don’t have kids demanding my attention every second, I’m exhausted. But once I realized it was OK to feel that way, a few things changed.
I received a bit of energy back by realizing there is no shame in worshipping from my floor. There is no shame in just gazing upon Jesus. There is no shame in just sitting there — even if I’m once again distracted by the numerous unread books on my shelf/home altar. There is no shame in not being “productive” in prayer. In fact, we often confuse piety with productivity, a pit I have definitely fallen into with my busy schedule.
So now, I’ve started another practice. In my own way, I’ve taken Jesus’ invitation to “Come, have breakfast” seriously (Jn 21:12). After livestreamed Mass on Sunday, I have a brunch date with Jesus. I make some food and a big cup of tea, set it on a tray on my bedroom floor, curl up with a blanket and some pillows, and livestream adoration from a chapel somewhere in the world. And I just sit with him. Sometimes I read or journal; other times I just rest. But compared to most things experienced during this new normal, this time fills me up. There is no timeline of how long or little I need to pray.
I don’t know what your situation is, but we could all use some quality time with Jesus. If you have kids, this may be a bit more difficult, but why not invite them in? Cater it to meet your needs and the needs of your family. Maybe this means livestreaming adoration with your morning cup of coffee, even with a kid resting in your lap. Maybe this means putting aside music and saying the Rosary on your walk.
Nothing looks or feels normal right now, so neither should your prayer life. But God is still here, waiting for you to turn to him — even if that means praising from your floor.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.