The closure of public masses and other worship services has been for many of us one of the most painful consequences and deepest sacrifices of the Coronavirus pandemic. During times of fear, tragedy and hardship our impulse is to turn to each other and the rituals that mark both the basic rhythms and the transitions of our lives. Not being able to participate in communal gatherings that give us spiritual support has been disorienting and disheartening, even as we understand the importance of social isolation.
So we do the best we can with streaming services and online reflection groups to continue what we find most essential.
It seems the pandemic has stripped everything to its barest and most fragile essentials. What is important for children to continue learning? How do we continue to feed each other and ourselves? What services and rituals are most essential, and how do we keep in touch with those who mean the most to us?
Pope Francis has been urging us away from over-reliance on consumption of goods for happiness, insisting that human dignity be the ultimate litmus test for a healthy economy, and reminding us that we are utterly dependent on Creation, a Creation we share with every other life on the planet. Perhaps one of the gifts in this time of so much sacrifice and uncertainty is to meditate on Francis' message found in Laudato si - On Care for Our Common Home (LS) in light of our current situation.
It’s hard to continue “us and them” thinking when we’re all experiencing orders to stay home, and when the virus is infecting people of all ages, all backgrounds and all manner of social standing. It’s likewise hard to see the environment as something abstract or “over there” when every step of fresh air outdoors is a blessing.
As long as we’re unable to lead retreats and programs at MEEC, we’ll share thoughts, reflections and questions to help us make sense of the present moment in light of faith, and in light of what Francis calls “integral ecology.” Integral ecology understands that everything is closely related and recognizes that environmental and socio-economic challenges can't be considered independently. It urges us toward comprehensive solutions that combat poverty, restore dignity to the exclude, and protect nature. As inspiration, Francis also encourages us to encounter God in all things, to revel in beauty, to cultivate wonder and awe, for "there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person's face" (LS #233).
We pray that your encounters and reflections will be restorative to your spirit and provide insights and strength for these challenging times.