Warm greetings on a beautiful late Spring day. I hope that in your part of the Archdiocese, you have received enough rain to give our crops and gardens the moisture they need to keep growing. Here in Regina, we certainly could have used more rain than we got.
As you know, the numbers allowed in our gatherings for Mass have risen to 30 as of Monday. The work of our faith leaders group with the government appointed liaison team is continuing, and has been very fruitful. It is very likely that the number of people allowed in worship facilities will rise again, possibly before the next weekly message. Announcements from the government are coming rapidly; please be mindful that when these address the functioning of our churches, we then need to study what is said and revise the guidelines for our own parishes in the Archdiocese, which takes at least a couple of days. So I ask that you please be patient with your local parishes as they try to keep apace with evolving government directives and the guidelines coming out from the Archdiocese. And please know that asking for your patience does not mean that we are not working very diligently at the diocesan centre and with our leadership team as we continue to move forward.
Now that we are taking significant steps towards reopening our churches and indeed our society, it is time to enter intentionally into a time of discernment. We know very well that our society, prior to the COVID crisis, was unhealthy in many ways. The crisis has shed light on some of our shortcomings and failings, including the need to pay greater attention to the way we care for the elderly, the need to work hard in addressing racial inequality and injustice, the importance of caring for the environment so that we can live well on the planet that God has given us to dwell upon, and that future generations might do likewise. The dysfunction of our society is probably most clearly in evidence in all the ways that the dignity of being human, the sacredness of human life, the gift that this human life is, are not recognized, received, celebrated. That, and the way that we tend to be polarized over what to do about it, what issues need to take precedence, and how to take meaningful steps to restore human dignity and build up the common good.
Winston Churchill was apparently the first one to say, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The word ‘crisis’ comes from the Greek word meaning decision. It refers to a key turning point, often a turning point in a disease, the moment where we find out whether things will get better or get worse. Every crisis brings opportunities for change.
The decisions we make coming out of the pandemic – mindful that this may be a year-long process – are very important. A friend brought to mind a football analogy that is helpful here. Coaches work with fine young quarterbacks like Cody Fajardo to help slow down in their minds what is happening on a pass play, so that they can see what the various defenders are doing, all while at least 4 very intense pass rushers are trying their best to throw him to the ground. Great quarterbacks have the ability to slow things down in order to make the best decision possible on any given play.
Likewise, instead of jumping back to as many aspects of normal life as quickly as possible, we do well to slow things down a little, to read the situation as clearly as possible, and to make good decisions. About a month ago in my weekly message I reflected on what we would like people to say 20 years from now about how we lived through and came out of the pandemic. That isn’t an arbitrary exercise, but was a way of getting us to think about how we are called to change going forward.
At the start of his mission, Jesus proclaimed, “The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news.” That word ‘repent’ means change your ways; be converted. The old Chinese proverb also comes to mind: if you do not change directions, you are likely to end up where you are heading. The Lord is always calling us to new life, to a deeper life, which involves letting go of some things that are not life-giving.
I would invite you to bring to your prayer life how you as an individual, how we as church, and as society, are being called to change. Crises carry within them opportunities to break away from old patterns, and to shift systems that are not functioning well, or are unjust and destructive. And I would invite you not only to bring this to prayer, but to enter into discussion with others – with family, friends, associatates - where do we need to hit the reset button?
Some examples: as church, in recent months bulletins have given way to all forms of communication which are serving us in new ways. How should our communications evolve going forward? More importantly, how can we draw on the gifts of all the people of our parishes more effectively so that we all use our gifts generously and well? How can we foster dialogue and strengthen the unity within our parishes and in our society? It has taken the whole community’s efforts to stop the Covid-19 virus. How can we be just as committed and organized and ready to make sacrifices in order to care for the most vulnerable, and uphold human dignity? How do we reach out to those who have been marginalized and pushed aside, those we don’t see in our pews any more, or never did see?
Lest this feel in any way overwhelming, remember. The Holy Spirit is leading us. This is God’s work, the transforming and redeeming of us human beings and of our world. This is the work of Ordinary Time, to open ourselves to that Holy Spirit and to find our part in God’s work in the world. As the Psalm refrain proclaimed not long ago, the Lord is our refuge, a rock, a fortress, our stronghold. In him we trust, in him we find rest.
Oh, and the last word. This Sunday, feast of Corpus Christi, in the evening, please check out the premiere of “The Diocese Tonight.” It’s going to be great. Rich blessings, friends.
Archbishop Don's Weekly Message Watch HERE
Page URL: http://archregina.sk.ca/news/2020/06/11/what-change-god-asking-us