Three months ago today, March 11th the headline in the news was that the Archdiocese of Seattle was suspending Mass and the Country of Italy issued a stay at home order in an effort to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
I have been keeping a journal to chronicle my experience as a Catholic social media strategist, in the hopes of sharing with other Catholics wanting to help their parishes use social media to connect in this new era for our church. While some may believe that as churches reopen that it will simply be a time to return to doing things in ways that they have always been done. If that's truly the mindset, then your parish may lose connection with its members.
As I look at my entry for March 11, it read "Ask Msgr. to write a prayer about not having fear around Coronavirus". While he declined to write one on that day, other Catholic publications, most notably America Magazine did. Even with news of Mass being suspended in Italy and within the 15th largest diocese in the United States, there was still dissension on the gravity of the situation. So many of my parish family members were so fearful and they needed the comforting and healing words of their pastor in my opinion. While others dismissed the looming pandemic as a hoax.
The opinion of a non-staff person itself lacks gravity, but as a contributor for Hawaii Catholic Herald my idea of writing an article on the impact of the for their publication was embraced. I started writing the article on this day and even included a prayer to St. Roch, patron of infectious disease as part of it, to provide a prayerful practice for those reading it.
We were just two weeks into Lent and my social media focus was on preparing my weekly posts for our #FaithFilledFriday promotions. However, there was a sense of anxiety and uneasiness that the wave of closures were moving West in my mind and heart. At a time that I set aside each year to be prayerful, peaceful and meditative to connect with Christ was becoming anything but what I aspired.
One of the benefits of working at a parish is to pop into the church whenever inspiration is needed. So I also wrote in my journal about the peace I felt in sitting in front of my favorite statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that day of which I have a devotion to and attending daily Mass.
My prayer was "Lord, please help me to use my gifts to glorify you, not me and help me to be patient with those in which I disagree".