On April 12, Catholics in the United States observed Easter Sunday mostly alone. With churches closed and Masses canceled in the midst of a global pandemic, community celebration was limited to live streamed Masses. Most Catholics had already gone without the Eucharist for over a month, and to many the absence of the sacrament on the holiest day of the year felt particularly painful.
The pandemic is “fundamentally changing how we do and be church,” as a series at the National Catholic Reporter puts it. We have to worship, socialize, and serve differently for the time being, and already individuals and institutions have begun to adapt to this new way of life.
Certainly, we’ve had to get creative about seeking communion and gathering in prayer. Without the routine of Mass, laypeople have had to be more intentional about their prayer lives in their own homes. This integration of church and home, although temporary, could help us reimagine for the future how faith informs our daily lives and commitments—a counterbalance to the temptation to “keep it in church.” One diocesan official in Florida observed, “The coronavirus did in a weekend what it has taken the Second Vatican Council almost sixty years to try to get Catholics to do, which is get out of their church buildings and talk with people about Jesus.” Without our usual schedules to fall back on, we can ask ourselves what practices draw us closer to each other and to God, and how to share these with the people closest to us.