By Sue Kenfield
Sue Kenfield, M.A., is a consultant, certified resilience specialist, and parishioner at St. Thomas More, www.suekenfield.com.
As we prepare for the lifting of the dispensation, many may be wrestling with coming back to in-person services. Strengthening your resilience is one way to move forward and embrace the opportunity to worship in person. It is also a way to overcome some fears you may have.
One question coming up for some people is: With all the pews opening, how can I feel comfortable sitting in closer proximity to people?
Understandably, people may be uncomfortable. We have all developed new habits following the COVID-19 restrictions. The good news is that some restrictions to worshiping in person are ending. Developing higher levels of resiliency will aid you in adapting to those changes.
Fear is a powerful emotion to overcome and doing so requires developing a different perspective. What steps can you take if you are fearful?
First, remember what the Lord repeatedly says, “Fear not for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). View returning to Mass as an opportunity to have your faith prevail over your fear. I have been attending Mass weekly during the last year without any adverse impact. Getting to share routinely in the Eucharist has been immensely helpful and healing during these trying times.
Second, ask yourself, “Do I see things as they truly are, or as I fear them to be?” Look at objective data rather than what your emotions are telling you. Many churches in the archdiocese have had in-person services and have not had COVID outbreaks, indicating it is safe to worship in person. Where else have you shared space with others and have been okay?
Third, build up more optimism. Optimism is the ability to look for the good and maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of adversity. It is another key to becoming more resilient and deepening your faith. Do you see challenging experiences as an opportunity to grow? Look at this opportunity as a chance to grow in your faith, trust in God, and reconnect with your faith community.
Reengaging at in-person church services is an empowering step forward and will support strengthening your resiliency. Practice implementing these steps to help you build more resiliency and ease your fears about returning to Mass. “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).