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Faith and Life – A Reflection

March 31, 2020
A statue of Saint Ignatius in the Church of St Ignatius on the campus of the University of San Francisco

During these challenging times for our communities, state, nation, and world faith has been something that is being tested and transformed. In a conversation I had tonight with a friend, we discussed how these times are terrifying for the church yet also transformative. With church buildings standing empty and pastors preaching from the pulpit in an empty sanctuary or from an office or from home, I believe this is a moment for the Church to transform itself. Too often the Church is thought of by parishioners as the building. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is a meeting place for worship and other gatherings, the true church has no walls.

In the age of technology and the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus, the Church is being forced to think outside of the box. As Dickens said, these are the best of times and the worst of times. The tragedy of so many people dying from this virus and the growing number of deaths among the Medical Professionals and First Responders, along with employees of business that are key and essential can be overwhelming. Life is essentially being redefined and one wonders what it will look like, post-pandemic (whenever that might be).

In our discussion we talked about how our faith is being challenged and even transformed. Our prayer is that post-pandemic we will see a transformation in the faith and the actions of individuals. Instead of a divisive, and fear/hate filled response, perhaps we will see more compassion, understanding, and mutual cooperation amongst people and countries. I know that my own faith is being tested as I walk with our congregation and so many others through this dark valley. Platitudes never really worked for me and they sure as all heck don’t work now! We are in the midst of the messiness of life and God is meeting us there to walk with us and guide us through.

The Spirit continues to challenge me and comfort me at the same time with Her guidance and wisdom. Despite the incredibly hectic schedule of additional virtual worship opportunities that are planned, virtual meetings where decisions have to be made, and the approach of Holy Week in this time of uncertainty, I have had a few occasions at night (if I can keep my eyes open) to reflect and to read. The past few nights all I have managed to post is an evening prayer.

Tonight’s conversation and my readings from Thomas Merton’s No Man is an Island I began to reflect in silence. Merton says the following in his forward to the book: In a world where every lie has currency, is not anxiety the more real and the more human reaction? He continued to reflect on anxiety, life, and transformation for several paragraphs. The next quote speaks to me of hope and a transformation of life and our way of thinking. For it seems to me that the first responsibility of a{n individual} of faith is to make {their} faith really a part of {their} own life, not by rationalizing it, but by living it. (pp. xiii and xiv)

Perhaps we are being challenged to make faith more than doctrine or theology or discussion points in a debate. Perhaps we are being called during this time to re-evaluate our faith and put it into action. St Teresa of Avila said that Christ has no body now on earth but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.

In this time of challenge dear reader, may we seek to integrate our faith in a deep and meaning-filled way by living it. And may we truly embrace Teresa’s challenge to be the hands and feet of Christ. Through it all the Spirit will guide us with Her gentle wisdom and compassion.

One Comment
  1. Amen, Michael! May it be so as we rise to the challenge of being a church without walls and seek to minister to one another in new ways during this current worldwide health crisis. 💜

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