The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of life for millions of people around the world. It’s tempting to panic or start to wonder where God’s plan is in all of this.
I saw a comment on Facebook about remembering what season we’re in right now: Lent. Where are we supposed to be during Lent? In the desert. And oh man does it feel like the desert this week.
I can’t think of a situation that feels more like the desert than to be away from Mass.
Social distancing is an absolutely necessary step for all people to take right now so that we have the best chance of overcoming this pandemic with as few deaths as possible. But even knowing its necessity doesn’t make it easy.
I chose to watch the noon livestreamed Mass with Archbishop Vigneron at the Cathedral last Sunday. At first, it was difficult to focus on the livestream because I was in such a different environment (my kitchen) than I’m obviously used to for Mass. I was definitely feeling the distance and wondered how I was going to keep this up for several weeks.
But as Mass went on and I continued trying to shut out the distractions, I started to realize that the physical distance didn’t need to have a negative effect on my ability to pray with Archbishop and the 1400 people who had joined the livestream on Facebook.
Actually, I was amazed at the number of people who could join together and pray in this way.
Even though I’ve worked in digital media for my entire career, I’ve never bought into the idea that digital connection is the true equal of in-person relationships. And livestreamed Mass is certainly not a replacement for gathering as a community to receive the Eucharist.
But I realized that although I was physically distant from the cathedral and from all the other people tuned in online, we were in spiritual communion as we prayed together. Being socially distanced actually presented a deeper and more meaningful invitation to spiritual closeness.