We know that spirituality underpins religion and is essential to our understanding of our meaning and purpose. It is the way we recognise and respond to God’s touch in life and in all creation.
Our present chaotic times, COVID and beyond, have led us to find new ways of searching and being with our God, with each other and with all creation.
Our normal way of communicating compassion, reverence and love have had to change and find new forms of expression. God’s touch, as does all touch, has to be filtered through other mediums. And touch is essential to a healthy life.
So what do we do?
For one thing, we can give thanks for technology and for the virtual reality it offers to keep community alive.
Like the mainstream churches in regard to ritual and the Eucharist, spiritual directors of all denominations have turned to Zoom, FaceTime, audio and other ways of connecting.
As a spiritual director, I have found FaceTime in particular a great medium for communicating. I believe, however, what will always be the best way is face-to-face sessions. When ‘normal’ comes back, so, I hope, will individual and group spiritual direction where possible. I will still rely on technology, of course, when speaking with overseas or interstate directees. But virtual reality has kept the channels open now.
Technology has established a global community as well. A zoom meeting, for example, courtesy of a retreat house in New York, brought together people from both hemispheres. They shared personal experiences in breakout rooms and prayed lovingly for our world.
During this COVID time, I have also been able to conduct private retreats and even some small group retreats face to face. St Joseph’s Retreat Centre in Baulkham Hills has been a great venue, maintaining social distancing but ensuring the retreat situation really becomes a community experience. An open retreat for lay and religious saw small numbers but was a profound experience for me. Beautiful women of many different nationalities meeting and praying together in a time of uncertainty!
Another small retreat with a group of Vincentian priests also had a profound effect on me. In particular, their Eucharist was a true contemplative experience. They created through word and action an inclusivity and sense of hope our world needs.
So when the isolation stops, when we meet in more than a virtual way, I hope that we will continue to depth our experience of spirituality and our awareness that God has never stopped touching and never will stop touching us, reaching out to us, living in us and challenging us in the most unexpected and exciting ways.
Sr Colleen O’Sullivan is a religious sister of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
You are invited to share how you have continued to be Prayerful and Eucharistic, or how you are living the Plenary Council themes for Discernment in our world today. Send your stories to Tanya Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Plenary Council please visit https://plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au/