18 February 2021, The Tablet

Communion - unlock the tabernacles

Mass under lockdown

Communion - unlock the tabernacles

Photo: © Mazur/cbcew.org.uk


Many have turned to virtual worship in the pandemic but they miss the physical consecrated host. Could those taking part in Mass online also receive Communion?

Public worship in Scotland and Northern Ireland is suspended; in England and Wales, churchgoing is still allowed but may be ill-advised on health grounds, and in some church buildings Covid-secure worship is difficult. Many Catholics are therefore being deprived of the consecrated host.

Early in the pandemic, bishops in dioceses all over the world – for entirely understandable reasons – removed the obligation to attend the Eucharist on Sundays and holy days. Yet as the Scottish bishops have said, the “Sacramental encounter with the Lord” that the Eucharist provides is “necessary to spiritual wellbeing and ultimate salvation”. When I worship and receive the consecrated host I enter, in solidarity with others, into graced communion through Christ with the living God. I do this because I want to, not because I am required to. At a time when bodies are viewed as infectious and are distanced, physical communion with and in Christ’s life-giving body is tremendously important. In the host, physicality is redeemed.

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