In 2020, we all experienced an Easter like no other. We 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 heard Easter messages from our leaders about how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus invites us to look at life anew. In 2020, we were given new lenses to look at that message. I am invited 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.
“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. “May we rise up and do better.” In my work, as I continued to accompany parishes in their mission to share the Gospel message, I was excited to see and hear the amazing things our parishes and faith communities did to respond to the mission of the Church to evangelise. This mission hadn’t changed just because of isolation. What did change was that we were 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 scrolled through the world wide web, I discovered a plethora of resources out there. So much! Content that already existed and new content that was being developed to respond to the covid crisis. There were aids to help us pray. Masses were being streamed all over the world. There were webinars offering tools and information to help communities grow in leadership and particularly leadership of parish. Many organisations offered their webinars, services and products for free during the pandemic. Our communities were being given an opportunity to look at different ways to do things. This crisis was a time to renew our communities, developing engagement and outreach plans during the pandemic and beyond.
And communities rose to the challenge and were creative in love. Communities reached out – to everyone. By using the various video conferencing tools and streaming options, by creating mail outs and phone trees, communities created ways to reach those who they normally would not reach. This included the housebound or those unable to go out at night because of childminding or health issues. It included people who would not normally attend Mass. The surprising thing was that we had the tools available to us the whole time. But we hadn’t always used them. We were now forced to use them and discover anew what was and is available to us.
After the pandemic, do we just go back to what we were doing? Have we and will we continue to employ these tools to reach those to whom we reach out to whilst isolated? We must. These are the tools 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’.