by Ken Rolheiser
Christmas without Christ and Covid-19

True story: A Red Army interdict in 1917 declared, Anyone found worshipping God in any church can be shot on sight or arrested. Every morning people would slink from shadowy doorway to shadowy doorway, furtively sneaking to daily Mass, to church. One day it happened just as the priest raised the consecrated host on high.

“Stand still!” The priest froze. The soldier slowly lifted his rifle and took aim. One shot rang out. The priest quivered, swayed and fell sideways. The consecrated host rolled down, coming to rest on the floor in two pieces.

“There is no God! We have crushed Him,” said the soldier. Silence hung until an old man spoke, “Father, forgive them, even if they know what they do.”

The Red Army soldier shivered a little and slowly slunk away. The old man reverently gathered the sacred host and bade all to come forward and receive their last communion.

“We buried the priest secretly. He was the last priest in town. There would be no more Mass, no sacraments… It was a Christmas without Christ in the tabernacle – without the Mass – without confession – without communion.” (from Donkey Bells, Catherine Doherty)

To many of us it seems too dull or perhaps too hard to go to church to Sunday worship, especially with the Covid-19 challenges. But from the victims of the Russian Revolution we get a different message: “Oh my friends, go to Mass every day – while you can! Yes, we would have crawled on our knees that Christmas – through the strange and fearsome streets, filled with dangers and death – if only we could have participated in just one more Mass.” 

As Christians we are free of the sadness and despair of living daily lives in a spiritual darkness. Hope has replaced doubt. Thanks be to Jesus Christ we can live with the blessings of the Resurrection. We do not have to wait until the eternal kingdom.

As children of light we are privileged to share the Resurrection joy now. As Advent led us to the feast of the birth of Christ, help us, Jesus, to experience your joy today and always.

(359 words)