…not our sole access to God.
It is vital to grasp this because there are those in the world telling us that if you cannot receive the sacraments then you are “cut off from grace”. So you hear people saying things like “The bishops are cutting us off from grace by denying us the sacraments at Easter!” One guy was even counseling some kid on Twitter than if her parents would not let her go to confession during the pandemic she should disobey them and go anyway or she could not be forgiven her sins.
No. Wrong. Obey your parents. Obey the bishops. The sacraments will be there when the pandemic is over.
Here’s the deal: Sacraments are given to us by Jesus as sure encounters with his grace, not as the sole encounters with his grace. Above all, they are emphatically not set up by Jesus as reducing valves designed to cut off from grace as many people as possible. If, for some good reason, you cannot access the sacraments, God is not sitting in heaven with his arms folded, tapping his toe impatiently and sternly saying, “Look, pal, rules are rules. Do the sacrament or to hell with you!”
The point of the sacraments is to make as intimate as possible the God who loves you and will do anything to be with you. If the person you love cannot be with you in person, do you reject them? Or do you try to be with them some other way, such as by phone, or Skype, or texting, or a letter? Of course you do the latter. God wants to be with you and to share his divine life with you. If you want him but can’t receive the sacraments, that is no obstacle to his love. He is looking for ways to be with you, not looking for ways to reject you.
So while we lack access to the sacraments for the moment, we do not lack all access to him or his grace. We have each other, we have scripture, we have creation, we have sacramentals in our homes, we have corporate prayer on line, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the cultivation of our charisms to help each other in creative ways, we have the rosary and a million other prayer forms.
We have an opportunity this Easter that is rare in the history of the Church. The chance to sharpen our *other* senses as a blind person does.
The Good Thief never had access to a single sacrament in his entire life. And yet he was guaranteed, on the highest authority, that he would certainly be granted all the fruits of the sacraments anyway, simply because he desired them.
The fear of some people is that such a promise will somehow cause people to conclude, “Oh! Well then I don’t have to bother with sacraments at all!” But that is like fearing that the Beloved will decide that because her love unites her with the Lover while he is in a far-off land, therefore she will lose all interest in his return. The separation will make the reunion all the sweeter. The point right now is that the separation does not mean rejection. The Lover loves, and is not looking for some excuse to reject, his Beloved.
Be not afraid.