You might be asking questions just like this.
- What else could happen?
- What can I do to feel normal again?
- And how do we move forward from this?
Good news! This crisis WILL pass.
Many of us got used to the chaos and noise of our day to day lives. But now, in the midst of this global pandemic, the silence is agonizing.
Normally, our lives are a storm of devices, media, work, school, and other activities. And without all those distractions, we find ourselves like Jesus did in the desert.
But this silence can be a time for reflection and growth.
Take the story of Elijah in the first Book of Kings.
There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.(1 Kings 19:11-12)
Elijah didn’t hear God in the storm, but in the silence.
And right now, our world has gone silent. Businesses are shut down, streets are empty, and Mass is no longer public.
Make no mistake, this is the desert.
This is the silence.
Our minds race to fill the void and cope with the disruption. But what if we stopped resisting and took this time to prepare ourselves to better live out the Apostolic mission?
For almost ten years I have led and assisted with dozens of retreats.
And many years ago, I noticed something that I call the “Remember the Titans Effect”. This refers to a movie from 2000 starring Denzel Washington about a high school football team in the early 1970s that is forced to integrate its football time.
After butting heads, the team goes away to a training camp. They aren’t exposed to television, family, radio, or any other outside influences. And through this challenging experience, they bond and get their priorities in order. They left divided, but they returned a team.
This newfound unity didn’t last.
Shortly after these young men returned to their normal lives, outside forces hit them like a ton of bricks. The negative aspects of school, friends, and family, rushed back into their lives.
And this combination of chaos and pressure quickly caused divisions in the team. They forget what they had learned in their time away. And so, they slipped back into their old ways.
I’ve seen this happen with retreats time and time again.
Young men and women go on a retreat, find themselves transformed by the experience, only to let all that personal growth slip away when the chaos of life returns.
I hope and pray that this experience of silence is a time of growth for all of us. But I also pray that we can carry what we’ve learned through this experience beyond this crisis.
So to help us do that, here are six tips to guide Catholics in moving forward after the end of this global crisis.
If you can, put a little bit of extra money aside every paycheck.
Not for yourself, but in case the Church or your neighbor needs it.
In learning to be financially responsible, a lot of us are taught to put money into savings. You never know when you’re going to get hurt or need a sudden car repair or a million other possible sudden expenses.
But what about the parish? Or your neighbor?
We’ve learned through this crisis that many people (and parishes) are hurting financially.
Start an extra savings account (you can create one online for free at simple.com).
And put just a little money each month aside. Even if it’s five dollars.
That money will add up and be ready to help someone when they are in need.
Offer to do something for your elderly parishioners or neighbors.
A lot is being made during this crisis about how we all need to stay at home, but that older people are at even higher risk.
So we deliver groceries to them, write them letters, and visit them through a glass window.
Don’t let this help end with this pandemic.
Do the grocery shopping for them, offer to set up a streaming Mass for them, or just visit them.
Speaking of visiting people, “Visit the Imprisoned” is literally a Corporal Work of Mercy.
For many of us, simply being “stuck” inside feels like imprisonment.
There are men and women who are made in the image and likeness of God who actually are in prison. And they don’t have the Amazon Delivery guy dropping stuff off outside their door for them.
Now, maybe you aren’t in a position to physically visit people who are incarcerated. Maybe you can’t do what my dad did and play softball with imprisoned men at the prison (no seriously, he used to do that at an Illinois prison).
But you can find a prison ministry and ask how to help.
Maybe write them a letter, send them a care package, or just let them know that you’re praying for them by name.
Stop rushing out of Mass.
You know who you are.
So many of us are clamoring to get back into the church, to be present and receive Jesus in the Eucharist again.
But how many people leave immediately following the reception of Holy Communion?
Or perhaps we rush out as soon as you hear the first note of the recessional hymn.
For years I’ve joked that the phrase “let us pray” is actually Latin for ”put your coats on Mass is just about over”.
Don’t rush away from Jesus.
5. Be Patient
Be extra patient with parents who have little kids at Mass.
We struggle normally, but now our kids haven’t been to Mass in a while. And it’s going to be extra difficult for them to re-learn how to behave.
So please, be extra patient with parents and their children.
But don’t let this patience expire quickly.
Most parents really are trying their best to teach their children the faith and respect all the other people in the congregation.
So help build up the Domestic Church by showing a little more love to families, especially young families.
Stop planning your Mass attendance around other things.
I get it. The kids have soccer at a fixed time, but the parish offers four different opportunities to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.
So there’s some logic in deciding what Mass you will attend based on the rest of your schedule.
But for many of us this becomes a slippery slope.
We all need to sit back and occasionally ask the question, where does Jesus honestly fall on my list of priorities?
In fact, for a long time it wouldn’t have made sense in the English language to pluralize the word “priority”. The word priority describes that which is primary, above all else.
So really we need to ask ourselves, does Jesus sit above all else as my one and only priority?
And if so, how do I live that?
Take up the Post-Covid Challenge
I want to challenge all of us to prayerfully consider how God is calling us to serve others.
Let’s not be complacent.
Instead, let’s use this time of silence to prepare for the future of Holy Mother Church.
It’s in the silence that God most clearly speaks to us. It’s in the silence that our most profound hurt and deepest desires come to the surface.
In the words of the great Saint Mother Teresa, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin”.
Learn More About Tim Lucchesi
I would like to thank Tim for contributing this guest post to the blog. You can find more by Tim at:
If you enjoyed this post, check out our podcast episode: Raising Up the Post-Covid Church.
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