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St Ignatius Church in Petaling Jaya. Taken before MCO.

‘Pandemic made me more grateful for the gift of worship’

Here is where we publish personal reflections and testimonies from readers like you. This is a space for you to tell us how God has been real in your life. You can write about how a sermon spoke to you, what a Scripture reading revealed to you about God, how an incident reminded you of something Jesus had said or done, or share your testimony.

By DPR  AUG 25, 2020

The feeling of being present in Church for mass brings so much joy to me, that I want to remain there for hours to thank the Almighty for this great gift and opportunity to worship Him as a community. 

The first timeI attended Mass after the churches reopened was on Aug 1. Since then I have attended several weekend and daily masses at the Church of St Ignatius (SIC), Petaling Jaya. As I was kneeling at the designated pew after receiving Holy Communion, I realised that I could go on adoring and thanking God for the many blessings He has showered upon me and my family. 

The restrictions got me thinking of how I had taken many things for granted in the past, especially the privilege of walking into any Catholic Church within the Klang Valley to attend mass and receive the sacraments. Apart from SIC, my wife and I used to attend Masses at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puchong, Church of St Thomas More in Subang Jaya and Church of St Francis Xavier, also in PJ.  

I have been guilty of not adoring and appreciating Him enough in the Blessed Sacrament before MCO. Since Aug 1, I have started to treasure all the gifts that the Church has to offer us, i.e. Priests, the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, and the privilege to worship as a community.

Being late for mass is not an option, as my wife and I are forced to be in Church early to get through the strictly enforced government SOPs to prevent the spread of Covid 19 cases. I thank God for the host of volunteers who have to be in Church two to three hours before Mass to register, screen and usher parishioners to their seats.  

As I am writing this, I was reminded of an issue that a US Catholic priest highlighted about three weeks ago. I had attended one of the live online masses on a weekend that I couldn’t go to SIC.

Rev Fr James Crisman said a bishop in the US pointed out that the pandemic was causing a culture of disengagement within the Church. “There is a great danger that the pandemic is creating a culture of increased disengagement within the life of the church that will persist long after a vaccination is found.

“This disengagement within the life of the church is really happening … and is the work of the evil one to keep us apart.” said Fr James Crisman, who is based in Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Longmont, US.

“I mean, look at you. You all are sitting six feet from one another. We are not allowed to see each other’s faces anymore. We have to be apart. And whenever I wear a mask I tend not to talk. I kind of use my hand to say hi!  And the person is six feet away, for whatever reason sometimes I don’t say anything,” said  Fr James Crisman who plans to address this problem through safe outdoor gathering for his parishioners. “We got to encounter Him more and more. So I preach repentance, I preach conversion and then I welcome you to a deeper engagement and a new encounter with the living God.”

San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy first raised this issue during his homily at the ordination of a new auxiliary, Bishop Ramon Bejarano. The National Catholic Reporter, had on July 20, 2020, carried this report

This issue is affecting Catholics everywhere, and in my own little way  I have decided to stop and say hello or talk to people I know when I am in church. This will be my way of engaging our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I believe the clergy in Malaysia is also aware of such issues, along with the many other concerns this pandemic has caused.

Amidst all these restrictions and problems that are going on in our country and in the world today, I will continue to adore and thank Jesus for giving us the gift of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.