The importance of community in a time of isolation

By: 

So much has been said and written about the novel coronavirus that if words could stem a pandemic, we would all long since have been dancing in the streets, holding hands and only pausing now and then to exchange hugs. Unfortunately, keeping 6 feet apart is the order of the day, while hugging — especially hugging — is strictly verboten.

Which suggests a question: What expressions of affection and good fellowship really are in order at the moment? At the risk of adding to the word glut, here a few thoughts.

1. Telephoning, emailing and texting come immediately to mind. It strikes me that enforced isolation may be a novel experience for quite a few people right now, causing them distress they have no previous experience in handling. True, some individuals have a fairly high level of tolerance for being cooped up by themselves, but others are likely find it a nerve-racking experience at best and a source of deep depression at worst.

Thus a simple “How ya doing?” delivered by phone, email or text may do some friend or relative of yours a world of good by serving as a reminder that somebody out there really cares and there is hope at the end of this particular tunnel, however dark and long it turns out to be.

2. Prayer, always a good idea, makes more sense than ever in our present, disquieting circumstances. I see that Pope Francis has offered a plenary indulgence for those who pray for COVID-19 victims and those who care for them. This is a welcome inducement to pray. But with or without inducements, prayer seems like an excellent thing to do right now.

You can pray with others at a distance via TV (plenty of Masses and devotions are being telecast), social media and various websites, or you can pray alone — except that prayer in itself is a reminder that, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we are never ever really alone when we pray. And that is the consoling thought many of us badly need in the present trying circumstances.

3. Instead of simply waiting for a churchless Holy Week and Easter to arrive — and falling into a deep funk when and if they do — plan now for how you will celebrate those sacred feasts if, in fact, the churches still are closed then.

Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have one of the liturgical booklets containing the texts of the Holy Week and Easter rites. If that’s the case, I suggest you familiarize yourself in advance with the texts with an eye to using them by yourself when the time comes. Or see if one of those friends whom you’re telephoning, emailing or texting would like to join you at long distance in doing the same at a mutually agreed on time. Certainly people can join other people in worshiping God without necessarily being in the same place with them.

Many are suffering through this pandemic as an unwelcome experience of isolation and loneliness. The negative feelings are understandable, but perhaps not altogether bad, since they allow us to taste the isolation and loneliness of Jesus on the cross. In an odd way, too, the pandemic is — or at least can be — a community-forming event. We are in this together, and as time passes and quarantining spreads and tightens, we are learning our need for one another in ways we may not have expected. The pandemic will pass, but the bonds formed now may last.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

The importance of community in a time of isolation

Wednesday, April 1, 2020
By: Russell Shaw So much has been said and written about the novel coronavirus that if words could stem a pandemic, we would all long since... Read More

The sacrifices we make: What it means to be a Christian under lockdown

Monday, March 30, 2020
By: Leonard J. DeLorenzo The effectiveness of nations and states’ efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus depends on broad social... Read More

Opening the Word: The sweetness of love has overcome the foul stench of death

Friday, March 27, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. The evangelist, John, is not just providing a chance detail to the reader.... Read More

Without weekly collections, parishes facing financial stress amid the pandemic

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
By:  Brian Fraga Msgr. Charles Kosanke has told his parish staff that he can keep them employed full-time until April 6. After that, he has no... Read More

In times of crisis, the Church has a history of stepping up

Monday, March 23, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Fear of contagion is nothing new. Not that long ago, hardly back in the Dark Ages, the respected scientific opinion... Read More

Opening the Word: Sight and touch

Friday, March 20, 2020
By:  Timothy P. O'Malley As children, we learned about the five senses.  Sight is different from the sense of touch.  We see things,... Read More

With a miracle approved, beatification awaits computer programmer Carlo Acutis

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
By: Meg Hunter-Kilmer Venerable Carlo Acutis had a PlayStation. He made awkward videos with his friends. His favorite cartoon was... Read More

With a miracle approved, beatification awaits computer programmer Carlo Acutis

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
By: Meg Hunter-Kilmer Venerable Carlo Acutis had a PlayStation. He made awkward videos with his friends. His favorite cartoon was... Read More

Vatican homeless shelter continues long history of the Church’s charitable works

Monday, March 16, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Talk about a breath of fresh air. NPR spent some minutes reporting that Pope Francis had turned a one-time palace near... Read More

Opening the Word: thirsting for the Lord

Friday, March 13, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Suffering from thirst is an all-consuming experience. The thirsty person desires water alone, longing for an occasion to... Read More