We have all experienced an Easter like no other. We have experienced the journey from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday in our homes watching various Easter liturgies on the television or live streamed on our computers. We have heard Easter messages from our leaders about how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus invites us to look at life anew. This year, we have been given new lenses to look at that message. This year invites me to ponder how this whole experience of pandemic, physical isolation and new ways of doing things has changed my own thoughts and behaviours.
I saw a post on Facebook this week. It read, “Nothing should go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working. If we go back to the way things were, we will have lost the lesson. May we rise up and do better.” Facebook Post 12th April 2020
I was particularly struck by the last line, being Easter – “May we rise up and do better.” As the Diocese of Parramatta’s Pastoral Planning Office continues to accompany parishes in their mission to share the Gospel message, we have been excited to see and hear the amazing things our parishes and faith communities have been doing to respond to the mission of the Church to evangelise. This mission hasn’t changed just because we are in isolation. What has changed is that we are encouraged to re-think how we live Christ’s mission. Pope Francis in his Holy Week message stated, “despite the isolation imposed by social distancing measures, ‘thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love.’”
As I have been scrolling through the world wide web, I have discovered a plethora of resources out there. So much! Content that already existed and new content that has been developed to respond to the current crisis. There are aids to help us pray. Masses are being streamed all over the world. There are webinars to give us tools and information helping communities grow in leadership and particularly leadership of parish. Many organisations have offered their webinars, services and products for free during this pandemic. Our communities are being given an opportunity to look at different ways to do things. We can use this crisis as a time to renew our communities, developing engagement and outreach plans during this pandemic and beyond.
And communities have already risen and have been creative in love. Communities have been reaching out – to everyone. By using the various video conferencing tools and streaming options, by creating mailouts and phone trees, communities have created ways to reach those who they normally would not reach. This may include those who are housebound or unable to go out at night because of childminding or health issues. It includes people who would not normally attend Mass. The surprising thing is that we have had these tools available to us this whole time. And we haven’t always used them. But now we have been forced to use them and discover anew what is available to us.
When we come out of isolation and go back to what we were doing, will we continue to employ these tools to reach those to whom we reach out to now? We must. These are tools that we can now add to our ‘normal’ toolbox when it comes to evangelisation.
The message hasn’t changed. God’s love hasn’t changed. What has changed is the way we live it in the world. How will we continue to share God’s love in this new reality? How do we not go back to ‘normal’? We must continue to grow with the ‘creativity of love’.
To share your ideas or to have a conversation about different ways you can grow and share faith in your communities, please contact the Pastoral Planning Office at email@example.com
You can also see resources available for leading in times of crisis at www.parracatholic.org/covid19 under Prayer Resources.
Lisa Bright is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office for the Diocese of Parramatta.