the creativity of love

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?

See also NCR readers share how they keep spiritually grounded amid crisis .

and now for something completely different…the skit guys!

I’m nominating Tommy Woodard and Eddie James for beatification! Okay, they’re still alive so it’s a tad premature. But The Skit Guys are doing more for evangelization than many a dour or sober preacher on a Sunday morning. Or the door to door missionaries that show up at our house. In the case of the former, I usually zone out and wait for the agony to be over. In the case of the latter, I hide behind closed curtains to avoid their offer to save my doomed soul.

But when I watch a Skit Guys video, I’m happy to put my work aside and give them my time and attention. Okay, I give them more time than I should. I challenge you to watch only one video!

Here is the bio from their web-site,

They have been best friends since high school. Think of them as the wise guys in class who had everyone laughing and managed to make a career out of it. They’ve been teaching God’s word using comedy, drama and whatever category talking action figures fit into for over twenty years.

I’m a big fan of comedy and laughter, especially with things religious. James Martin, SJ explored this so well in his book, Between Heaven and Mirth. I also believe that you catch more flies with honey. It’s so much kinder and gentler than offering fear of damnation or a sponge full of vinegar on a stick. Misery seldom draws a soul to God.

So, take a mirth moment and check out their videos. But be prepared to be pleasantly inspired. Here are some for your Lenten reflections…

The Skinny on Prayer

The Skinny on Fasting

The Skinny on Tithing

more on humor and religion

provided by Microsoft

Watching Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on PBS has become a Sunday morning tradition for hubby and me. It offers an intelligent, balanced, and always respectful synopsis and commentary on recent religious head-lines around the world. Yesterday’s episode was a real treat, as several segments focused on the role of happiness and humor in our lives.

Happiness and a High Standard of Living explores the profusion of studies and books on the happiness factor. It comes as no surprise that money and success do not buy happiness.

Father Jim Martin, SJ, author of Between Heaven and Mirth, is interviewed in Spirituality and Humor. The man exudes joyfulness and playfulness, as he argues for the need for both in our religious institutions and in our spiritual lives. An added bonus is Jokes from Father Jim. He also happens to be the official chaplain of the Colbert Nation!

Give yourself a treat and watch these videos. And may your week be blessed with many moments of happiness and humor!