Pope Francis has sent a message on YouTube ahead of Holy Week, expressing his solidarity with all who are suffering through this pandemic and gratitude for the “heroes” working on the front lines. He encourages the “best use of time”. To be generous.
Even if we are isolated, thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love.Pope Francis
Examples of loving creativity abound, from musicians posting online concerts to a video of a young man in Manchester who uses his one hour of daily outdoor exercise, dressed as Spiderman, delighting children as he runs by with flips and jumps. The world is full of loving, generous souls. A small act can lighten hearts and, more importantly, give hope.
Hope of a better time in which we can be better…finally freed from evil and from this pandemic…hope does not disappoint; it is not an illusion.Pope Francis
To be creative means to think outside of the box, and we are being challenged to do so with our faith. It’s about new wine and new wine-skins. There is no arguing that we are in “new wine” territory. And, new wine and old wine-skins are a bad match.
Some are arguing that churches are an essential service. Religious freedom an inalienable right. In the US, a petition is currently under way for bishops to allow churches to remain open and sacraments to be celebrated, including taking the sacrament of the sick to hospitals. Fr. James Martin, SJ, in an interview with Anderson Cooper, sees it as “a false distinction between faith and science…and a little bit of pride that runs through these people.” The inverse of the belief that ‘God will keep us healthy because we are believers’ is that those who get sick are sinners. A warped view of God indeed.
Burned in my brain are the words of a local pastor during an Easter homily, “The most important place in the world is inside the four walls of this church.” Though many years have passed, his narrow-minded view of our faith still haunts – and angers – me.
Being Church is not the same as being in church. Daniel P. Horan OFM says it well in an article written for the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) titled For the love of God (literally), stay home, be safe and pray.
These sorts of contrarian arguments are emblematic of a small but vocal crowd of pandemic naysayers in the church that, wittingly or otherwise, reduce everything from church buildings to even the Eucharist itself into symbols of a growing idolatry that minimizes God and restricts God’s presence to a limited number of discrete locations. It’s true that Christ is uniquely present in the Blessed Sacrament, but it’s not true that this is the only way God draws near to humanity and the rest of creation. God’s grace is not scarce nor is God distant from us!Daniel P. Horan, OFM
Horan goes on to remind us that lack of access to churches or public worship does not mean lack of access to the Divine. Love of neighbour and love of God are not in competition. Right now, staying home IS an act of love.
Creativity seeks new ways for new times. New ways to live faith, hope and love. What are some creative ways that you, your family, or your faith community have discovered to help each other through these days?