This is a time of multiple crisis: the pandemic, financial hardships, racism, intolerance, homelessness, indifference, apathy, culture of death, divisionism, materialism, superficiality, etc. I can go on and on numbering the different problems our society is facing right now. Even though we watch and read in the news continuously, day after day, bad news in the midst of this crisis, there is hope and good news: OUR CHUCH IS RE-OPENING THIS WEEKEND! Thanks be to GOD. WELCOME BACK!
I understand that true Catholics who believe in the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist are hungry and thirsty for the most holy sacrament. Many people have complained about closing our churches. Some people have gone intolerant, blaming bishops and priests for the closing but remember that this was done for the common good, to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus. The use of technology has been very helpful to continue participating during Mass from home. Before the closing of our churches, a group of people were asking to close our church because it was dangerous to worship when the pandemic hit. A little while after the closing, there was another group of people who were pushing aggressively ready to rally in front of the church to push for an opening. Rallying and complaining are not the solutions. The solution is to be OBEDIENT to what the bishops and Church authorities were asking us to do. Something I learned along during my seminary formation is that when we are obedient, we do not fail. Actually, this is written in a St. Francis of Sales’ book: “there is not failing to be obedient” (The True Spiritual Conferences of St. Francis of Sales, Bishop and Prince of Geneva, Institutor and Founder of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, Conference X). Some Christian Catholics usually forget about being obedient. I am calling for obedience and patience.
As we are reopening the church, there are many restrictions in place. My question is: Am I being patient enough to follow directions during the new normal? Am I willing to serve to clean and disinfect the church after each Mass? How can I be a helping hand during this time? I can keep asking you many more questions but my purpose is to help us reflect in our commitment to serve others in our community.
In the same way, when we see racism and injustice, what is my reaction? Am I indifferent? The answers to these questions are very personal, but we can choose to be indifferent and passive or to be open for the needs of others being active in this community of faith. Last year, Pope Francis beautifully explained how to avoid indifferentism. http://popesprayerusa.net/2019/09/09/can-stop-culture-indifference/
Pope Francis explains God’s motivation behind his first step: “he had compassion”. He could not remain indifferent, the Holy Father said, because “love is restless, love does not tolerate indifference, love has compassion”. Indeed, faced with the indifference of the Apostles toward the hungry multitude and their suggestion to send the crowd away to find their own food while the Apostles had enough bread for themselves, Jesus admonishes: “You give them something to eat”. (v. 37). The Apostles “were not mean”, but rather, “they were indifferent; they did not know what love is, they did not know what compassion is”. (L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition, n.4, 25/01/2019)
If the Apostles were indifferent chances are that we are indifferent as well.
Along my life, I have been the victim of racism and discrimination in this country. I can see how racism is prevalent even inside our Church. What is my personal approach on this issue? My answer: to pray for those who are racist without knowing that they are; to speak out against the evils of racism. Pope Francis twitted las week: “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form. At the same time, we have to recognize that violence is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. Let us pray for reconciliation and peace.” What is your personal approach then?
Thus, institutional and structural racism has permeated our society and our Church. This is time to reflect and avoid being indifferent denouncing the sin of racism and praying for those who are racist without awareness or intent. Anyways, welcome back to our Church and keep praying against the actual evils of humanity that has developed in multiple crisis.