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St Paul Outside the Walls

Sparking the Catholic Imagination 2

Deborah Stollery

“Thinking Whole” Effects of Covid 19 on Parishioners

As 2021 dawns, we at ConSpirita Consulting Network find ourselves, like many of you we expect, grateful for the passage of 2020 with all its challenges, joys, and woes, and yet uncertain about what 2021 might hold for us as individuals, as a business and as a Church.  In order to discern the signs of the times, to get into the flow of the Holy Spirit and so to walk these days in hope and resilience, we are focusing our next set of blogs on imagination.  Why?  Because we believe imagination is one of the Holy Spirit’s fertile grounds, and we desperately feel the need for the Spirit.  So join us as we seek to spark the Catholic imagination through these blogs.

Last week we introduced John Henry Newman’s four principles to re-center Catholic imagination:  learning to see whole, learning Christ, learning holy living and learning to praise.  We began exploring what learning to see whole might mean for us as individuals and ecclesial leaders.  Why?  Because we need to allow the Holy Spirit room to move us in God’s preferred direction as we emerge from the clutches of Covid19.  To reread last week’s blog, click here: Sparking the Catholic Imagination 1.

This week we are going to begin to use a “thinking whole” approach to the question “How has Covid 19 affected our parishioners?”  Here’s what we came up with, as Dana and I practiced this “thinking whole” approach.

  1. Head/intellectual
    1. So much new technology/methodology learning has had to take place as work and school moved to remote/distance models.
    2. Families learned more about one another simply by spending more time together. What they learned did not necessarily foster affection.
  2. Heart
    1. I am struggling to love the people I live with because we are together too much.
    2. I miss those with whom I interacted regularly.
  3. Physical
    1. I am eating/drinking too much of the wrong thing.
    2. I am not getting enough exercise and my body is telling me so.
    3. I am having even more trouble sleeping than I did.
  4. Spiritual
    1. I cannot understand how a good God allows or even caused Covid19 to happen.
    2. I feel even more connected to my home and the earth/nature because I am spending more time in both
  5. Aesthetic
    1. I’ve had time to really see sunrises and sunsets, flowers blooming and fading.
    2. I’ve missed the regular encounters with sacred art and artifacts that I took for granted when I was able to be inside my church/synagogue/mosque.
  6. Moral
    1. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown me truths I did not see before and Covid19 has made it harder for me to know what to do with that truth.
    2. The fact that our nation did not respond well to Covid19, causing so many poor, elderly, and people of color to suffer when they did not have to, disturbs my view of our nation.
  7. Religious
    1. I miss my regular religious practices that centered on my parish: Mass, committee work, checking up on others in person.
    2. I discovered as time has gone on that I am invisible or anonymous within my faith community.
    3. I do not know how to mourn/grieve alone.
  8. Connections/relationships
    1. Matters of heart, spirit and religious expression are connected to one another.
    2. Moral and religious elements can connect
    3. Many people’s only exposure to art, architecture, music is their churches.
  9. Single perspectives people are using to advance certainty/reduce fear
    1. This too shall pass.
    2. Self-focused behaviors.
    3. American exceptionalism.
    4. Individualism

So, this is what we discovered when we used a “thinking whole” approach to Covid 19’s effects on our parishioners.  We invite you to engage in this exercise with your colleagues and friends across parish boundaries.  There’s a lot to discover through this process and seeing the connections and relationships might spark your imagination about how the Holy Spirit wants you to pastor the flock entrusted to your care.

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