In a new video series intended to draw members of the faithful back to Mass, the Archdiocese of Louisville is inviting them to “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord.”
In the videos, parishioners from across the archdiocese talk about what the Eucharist means to them and offer reflections on returning to in-person Mass following the initial COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
The videos are meant to be an invitation to those who’ve been away from Mass because of the pandemic and for any other reason, said Dr. Karen Shadle, director of the Office of Worship.
“Please come back. We want you back,” said Shadle. “I feel we’ve not said that explicitly.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz reinstated the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days Sept. 4, though it doesn’t apply to those who are sick, feel vulnerable or are unable to attend in person. The obligation was suspended in March of 2020 and many Catholics have been watching their parish Masses via livestream since then.
The series of four videos were released in August and are available online at https://www.archlou.org/taste-and-see/.
In the first video, “Invitation,” parishioners share testimony about their experience being away from Mass during the lockdown and returning to in-person worship.
Trent Mattingly, a member of the Basilica of St. Joseph ProtoCathderal, one of the parishioners featured in the video, says that during the lockdown, he struggled with “feelings of aimlessness.”
“I felt something was missing,” he says in the video.
Destiny Morris, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, says when her parish re-opened and she returned to Mass “it was like a big happy family reunion.”
“We all just missed each other and wanted to be in each others’ presence,” says Morris.
In inviting others to return to Mass, Al Cassidy from Holy Trinity Church tells viewers, “You need that strength you get at Sunday liturgy to deal with the challenges that you’ll face this week.”
Sarah Warner, a member of St. Louis Bertrand Church, offers encouragement to those who’ve not yet returned: “Just come in and see what the Lord has in store for you.”
The second video explores an “obligation of love,” said Shadle.
The word “obligation” carries a negative connotation, but “coming to church and being part of our community is part of the good life, a full and happy life,” she said. “It’s not intended to be a burden. We respond in love to God because he loves us.”
Len Cooper, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, shares his story in the video series. Cooper said he carries many obligations out of love, and returning to Mass is no different.
“I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a son, I’m an uncle, I’m a Godfather, I’m a martial arts instructor. All those things are not work when things are required of me from those people,” says Cooper. “I do it because I love to do it … and that is love.”
Brigid Manion, a member of the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky., says in the video that fulfilling the obligation to attend Mass fills her up for her work as a teacher.
“They say you can’t give what you don’t have. So to come to Mass and be filled with Jesus then allows me to — not just with my words or my teaching, although those things are important — be Christ to my students,” said Manion. “Sometimes it’s just a loving gaze from Jesus that has convicted me and strengthened me and that’s what I want to give to my students.”
The third video, entitled “Grow,” discusses the “gift the Eucharist is to us,” said Shadle. “It’s what sets us apart as Catholics.”
Al Cassidy said the Eucharist draws him to Mass. He calls Jesus Christ his “best friend.” “Part of my attraction to going to Mass is it’s a celebration of my best friend,” he says.
Father Jeffrey Shooner, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Boniface churches, shares his testimony in the video. He says the Eucharist keeps him connected to God and to his parish no matter the “challenges” or “trials” he faces.
“To me, the Eucharist means that I’m not alone. It means that there is something bigger that I participate in,” he says. “It’s the very work of God and that part connects me to God and others.”
The final video in the series, “Encounter,” aims to provide a sensory experience based on the sights and sounds found in a Catholic church, said Shadle.
Coming to Mass should feel like a gift where “we can just sit back and take in the sights, sounds and smells.”
“It’s a gift to be in that space hearing the running water from the font, smelling the incense and hearing the organ,” she said. “It bathes our souls and wraps us in beauty. You deserve that.”
The videos are available at www.archlou.org/taste-and-see/.