Cue the cliché: We are living in unprecedented times. Actually, in some ways we aren’t. The world–and specifically here I’m going to address the situation of the Catholic Church–has faced pandemics before and much worse ones at that. We’ve seen lockdowns and separation from the sacraments and all and I don’t want to retread that familiar ground.
But what’s unprecedented this time is the ability to connect with one another despite our separation. Since the the beginning of the US lockdowns in March (and before that in Italy and other places in Europe), we’ve seen how we can still connect, do our work, go to school, order groceries and takeout, entertain ourselves, and most importantly, pray together through our computers and phones and tablets. It’s especially gratifying to see how our priests and parishes have responded in an almost entirely grassroots manner to provide us with live-streamed Masses when we were cut off from our communal celebrations in our churches (sometimes to hilarious, Facebook-filter effect). Kudos to the men of the collar for stepping up, often in areas they weren’t comfortable in, to figure out to get connected and online and streaming, almost instantly.
But as the weeks drag on and we receive increasingly dire predictions for how long we’re going to be like this, questions arise. Yes, even as some states have started to ease restrictions, many lockdowns will last into June at least. And even then, we are warned, life will not go back to pre-February 2020. We will continue to have restrictions on gatherings and requirements to maintain distance and/or wear masks and more. We are also warned that a second wave of the coronavirus will probably hit us in the fall, perhaps even worse than the first wave. This is our life for the time being.