You are here: Home
Virginia Saldanha, one of our Strategy Team members, the former executive secretary of the Office of Laity of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, and a freelance writer and advocate for women's issues based in Mumbai, India has raised this question. Is the Church changing with COVID-19.
Perhaps this time of empty church buildings symbolically exposes the reality of our lived faith and should move us to examine whether our "Church going" leads us to a more authentic lived experience of faith.
Pope Francis preaching to an empty gathering in St. Peter's Square is symbolic of the empty churches all over the world
Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!
Today the Church’s proclamation echoes throughout the world: “Jesus Christ is risen!” – “He is truly risen!”.
Like a new flame this Good News springs up in the night: the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family. In this night, the Church’s voice rings out: “Christ, my hope, has arisen!” (Easter Sequence).
(Reproduced with permission)
The 21-day lockdown in India that began on March 25 is in its second week. We Indians are slowly getting to grips with our situation.
For practising Catholics and ardent churchgoers, the lockdown has proved a bit traumatic. They are scrambling to find ways to replace going to church.
Quite a menu of livestreamed and recorded Eucharist celebrations is available to choose from. There are online Masses and retreats, and last week even had a holy hour with Pope Francis imparting his special Urbi et Orbi blessing.
While these are soothing to some extent, I feel my faith shaken each morning when I turn on the news. Thousands continue to die and the numbers are increasing each day.
Many Christians of all denominations are not going to be able to attend Church services over the next weeks, and maybe even months.
Rather than film myself celebrating Mass for my friends, and sharing the video, which seemed, to me at least, bizarrely clerical and pointless; or simply preparing video or audio of a homily for the Sunday readings, and posting that; I felt that it may be time to try something a little bolder.
You can divide religions into those that are most at home in the large public space and those which are most at home in the domestic space. For most Christians the choice has never been visible: they own many big buildings – and that is where religion takes place. If it takes place elsewhere, that is really just ‘a follow up.’ Christians seem to like big public statements.
But it is startling to recall that the original eucharistic meals – where the followers of Jesus wanted to be distinctive from their fellow Jews – took place in their homes.
‘Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke the loaf at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts’ (Acts 2:46).
In this domestic scale, they were in tune with their Jewish roots. Every meal was to be an occasion at which those gathered blessed God (Dt 8:10); the weekly meal with which the Sabbath began was a special act of praise, and the most special night of the year is Passover meal when God’s liberating deeds are recalled around the table. This year – in most places – Christians are going to have to rediscover this domestic liturgical space.