Tonight I went to St. Maurice Church in Ottawa, which has been holding drive-in Eucharistic Adoration as well as drive-through confessions on Friday evenings.
As the sun began to set, cars lined up around the church in an orderly fashion as parish volunteers wearing high visibility vests conducted traffic as they waved a hockey stick in one hand and dangled a rosary in the other. Yes, passers by caught sight of the peculiar witness.
Before tonight, the longest lines I’d seen in Ottawa were outside of the recreational cannabis shop and the liquor store, so it was uplifting to see all of these parishioners flocking to church, fully compliant with the Covid-19 protocols by approaching the sacraments from the safety of their own vehicles.
The two lines of cars resembled the ordinary two lines we see in church when people approach the priest to receive Communion.
Turning the corner to approach the main church parking lot, there were rows upon rows of cars all with people gazing up toward the Blessed Sacrament in the church window as they removed the rosaries from their rearview mirrors and began to pray.
Gregorian chant emanated from the church and stars filled the sky overheard reminding me of how the Star of Bethlehem led the Magi to the same King.
Tail lights seemed reminiscent of the sanctuary lamp indicating our Lord’s presence.
The people were clearly happy and grateful for Adoration and confession. Many are watching mass online, but we know we’re made for the sacraments and, as Pope Benedict XVI says, “matter is part of the sacrament. Christianity is not a purely spiritual reality. It implies the body. It implies the cosmos.”
Of course we are all cooperating with the instructions of legitimate authorities concerning the pandemic. At the same time, the unusual circumstances we’re living certainly invite meditation on the impossibility of faith in lifelong self-isolation.
Here’s an excerpt from the same audience quoted above by Benedict XVI:
“We have been baptized” is a passive. No one can baptize himself, he needs the other. No one can become Christian on his own. Becoming Christian is a passive process. Only by another can we be made Christians and this “other” who makes us Christians, who gives us the gift of faith, is in the first instance the community of believers, the Church. From the Church we receive faith, Baptism. Unless we let ourselves be formed by this community we do not become Christians. An autonomous, self-produced Christianity is a contradiction in itself. In the first instance, this “other” is the community of believers, the Church, yet in the second instance this community does not act on its own either, according to its own ideas and desires. The community also lives in the same passive process: Christ alone can constitute the Church. Christ is the true giver of the sacraments. This is the first point: no one baptizes himself, no one makes himself a Christian. We become Christians.
Thanks be to God for the Blessed Sacrament which gives continuity to all our days, reminding us that He never leaves us alone.