How can we stay close to God and one another right now?

I feel overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyday things seem to get worse, and I feel powerless to do anything about it. Even going to church isn’t an option right now.

With businesses and restaurants shuttered and Sunday Masses cancelled, we can quickly feel isolated. But social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to stay close to God and one another. Even from inside our homes, we can connect with those around us through small acts of kindness that can have a ripple effect on others.

Be generous. Buy a gift card from your favorite restaurant or order takeout (and leave a tip!) where available. Pay or tip your hairdresser or cleaning person even if you have to cancel; they are vulnerable during a downturn like this.  

Read. Set up a sharing library in your neighborhood and/or a virtual book group; support your local bookstore by purchasing books online as well.  

Reach out. Call your grandma or friends with whom you have lost touch; encourage your children to write notes or draw pictures to send to those who may be lonely.  

Get social. Go online to participate in a parish Bible study or meet up for a virtual Easter brunch. Watch a film together via Netflix Party (Bonus: It’s OK to “chat” during the movie).  

Help neighbors. Offer to pick up groceries or share hard-to-find items.  

Keep holy the Sabbath. Gather with those around you, and watch a televised/live-streamed Mass. Pray a rosary together. 

These everyday gestures can be powerful antidotes to the sense of helplessness and isolation many of us feel.  

Remember Philippians 4:6-7: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  

Originally found in Faith Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash