Out of an abundance of caution, and a desire to protect the health of all churchgoers, the Archdiocese has recommended that we temporarily make some adjustments in our liturgical practices. We have suspended receiving the Precious Blood from the cup; we are avoiding shaking or holding hands during the sign of peace and the Our Father. Some are choosing to receive communion in the hand to make sure that the minister’s hands do not come into contact with the mouth or the saliva of the person receiving communion, something that can happen surprisingly often! The priest and Eucharistic Ministers are using hand sanitizer before distributing communion. We have also removed the holy water from the baptismal font and the receptacles at the door of the church which many of us use to remind us of our baptism as we enter church.
The temporary suspension of these practices will hopefully keep us a bit safer during this time, but they might also provide us with an opportunity to reflect on what these practices mean to us so that one day when they are returned, we can appreciate them a little more. Their absence might make our heart grow fonder!
The Scriptures today focus on our thirst for living water. The people of Israel grew thirsty as they wandered through the desert. At God’s direction, Moses drew water from a rock. The Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus asks her for a drink and invites her to long for the “living water” that he can give. Paul invites us to remember the love of God that has been “poured out” (like water) into our hearts.
Do you long for the time when you can dip your finger again in that blessed water? Are you getting thirsty? Imagine that you are one of those preparing for baptism at the upcoming Easter Vigil. These readings might make you long for all that the baptismal waters offer. Since most of us are already baptized, we use this Lenten season to recommit ourselves, and we anticipate the opportunity to renew our baptismal promises at the Easter masses.