When people slowly start to go back to church and attend mass in the pews, will it be the same? Or do we want it to be? Before Covid 19 struck at the heart of every city on earth, Catholic mass attendance rates were only around 12% of the catholic population in western countries. In our cities, it’s around 4.4% with only 3 out of 100 catholic working people who attended mass each week. It seems that …’being a practising Catholic is less common than having a peanut allergy!” said an article online in Catholic Weekly.
Life indeed has changed. We find ourselves with huge challenges and new opportunities but the difference is that every human is affected by this crisis; almost simultaneously. Our collective consciousness is awake.
Many of our old catholic responses may not be adequate anymore. The way we are being catholic needs to be different. We are being asked to swim with the tides of kindness, compassion, innovation and resilience. As catholics we are the educators, the story tellers, the carers, the leaders and the interpreters. Our spiritual language is a resource for the sick, the lonely, the depressed, the jobless and the fearful.
When church doors were closed, some felt a sense of mourning not being able to go to receive the Eucharist but perhaps many of us in that loss, also breathed a sigh of relief that a ‘break’ from ritual was needed. Can we re-interpret Mass in its corporal sense? Being Christ in our community? Can we bring the songs, the stories and the spiritual to others outside of the walls? Our Indigenous sisters and brothers carry on the dreamtime even in scarce times and so we also must find ways to sing, dance and embed the Gospel into the hearts of our people.
Zoom prayer meetings are popular and there is a new wineskin that we are drinking from. We are being forced to reflect, to share our lives, give each other strength and recognise the God in all. Are we doing new theology? Is the unknowing helping us know Christ better? Are those who have dwelled on the fringes of the church finally going to be heard? We are walking through a threshold and into a new world.
On our Facebook page, or in the comments below, I invite you to share what you choose to bring along and what you want to leave behind.
Peace and Blessings,
Anne Maree Higgins is the writer and performer of Mass For Living, Your school or parish may have purchased Mass For Living when the New English Translation was introduced. She holds a BArts (Theol/Phil ) Hons in environmental ethics and has worked in youth ministry at a Diocesan and parish level for over 20 years.