Our first cover of the Lenten Season (March 1) asked what now seems to be a prescient question: “Are you ready for the sacrifice?”. None would have expected that the demands made during this period, and onward, would have been so intense. Few would have been prepared.
The editorial of March 15, took a deep and unforgiving look at the many negative responses to the Archdiocese’s initial statement on no Blood of Jesus being served at Masses, before the decision was made to close churches in order to protect parishioners and all whom they would have come into contact.
Both pointed to the ways in which a form of indiscipline had crept into the lives of good people, who may have taken the ritual of the Church, and its leadership for granted, and the complacency therein. Now, hunkered down in home spaces, reevaluation, real introspection and a shift away from the normal modes of behaviour have been foisted onto all.
We have come a long way since the first reactions. Many responded to the call to build churches within the household and it was heartening to see the pictures shared online of front doors decorated with palms and other greenery on Palm Sunday, parents washing the feet of their children on Holy Thursday, families sitting together in front of their TVs for Masses, and the small simple altars created for the home.
The priests, while feeling a sense of loss at not being able to conduct Masses, and missing the faces of their parishioners, adapted bravely to the challenge, and livestreamed their own Masses on Facebook. Seeing the unified face of the local Catholic Church during the Triduum Masses, with the use of Zoom, was both moving and comforting. Although, in separate rooms, the local Church felt whole and in solidarity.
Internationally, Alessandro Gisotti, vice-editorial director of Vatican media, told Catholic News Service in an emailed interview April 14, that spikes were seen in online engagement through comments, views and follows. “Many people, not just the Catholic faithful, were able to follow and ‘encounter’ the Holy Father and, through him, the Word of God thanks to this technology and especially to streaming services and social media,” he said.
Almost 18 million viewers watched the live video feeds of Holy Week events on the Vatican News Facebook pages; the Good Friday Way of the Cross had more than five million viewers. On their Facebook page, engagement was high with 1.9 million actions on their accounts and an “exceptional number” of almost 143,000 comments made during the Pope’s Easter events April 12, Gisotti said in the CNS report.
The world, while on pause, is also experiencing what can only be termed a reboot for many. Archbishop Jason Gordon in his homilies and columns for the Catholic News has cited what this microbe has effected for everyone. And while the world sits in waiting for the pandemic to be over, but preparing for possible second and third waves, the spiritual evolution continues.
For we have been stripped of material excess and control and sit surrounded by the core of our lives—family and faith. We are forced too, to think about those on the peripheries, those who have lost income as the local Church offers ways to donate money, and technology so those children keep abreast of their classwork.
We are experiencing a quiet revolution. As we sit in the ‘Upper Room’, let there be a commitment made to better and more loving Christian living, when this is finally over. To emerge from this unchanged is to ignore the gift in the chaos that has been handed to us.