Summary: Covid was a tremendous test for society as a whole and for the Church. It is very sad to see very few lessons have been learned. I had higher hopes that greater time for introspection would reap rewards. The following short text is addressed to the normal  Parishioner. This text is essentially for Parish Priests. Is it a difficult text, in the sense that it will be stirring up something which is new to Parish life. Difficult to grasp. It points out a world in microcosm, a world only visible under the microscope of a lab. The Parish never used this microscope. It works in the macroscopic world instead.

I found Covid very violent. We were confined. All life in the Western world came to a halt.

What strikes me most in st. Teresa of Avila is that she offers us an experience. Jesus is in the center of our being. She says to us: “Let us find Him. Let us do all that it needs to find Him. Let me show you how to find Him in the fullness of love.”

Covid indirectly provided the opportunity to meet the Lord. When you want to find God, enter into your inner room and close your door and pray to God who is present as Matthew 6 says when records Jesus’ invitation to a greater and deeper encounter. Faced with the incapacity to enter into our church physically, we weren’t able to enter into our inner chamber at home to meet Him “in spirit and in truth”. We either didn’t see and seize the opportunity which covid offered us or we fought back for the right to go physically. In both cases we didn’t seem to seek to break the barrier of the Spirit and Truth.

Isn’t this a fundamental call for reflection? For interiority? God, Jesus, is present and should be accessed by Faith. We were still able to access His Word in the silence of our heart. We had this opportunity. We were invited not only to attend Mass online but also to make a real interior act of Communion. Were we able to do so? St. Teresa of Avila describes the act of Spiritual Communion with similar words she uses to describe the Prayer of the Heart (Way 33-34). 

Covid seemed to have been an opportunity to climb over the wall of interiority.

Our time is more sensitive to the language of experience and of inner peace. Many do practise all sorts of meditation. Covid, with the silence and solitude it forced us into, was like walking in the Desert. Did we seize the grace of the desert? Did we search for Jesus above everything else? Did we find Jesus in the silence and solitude of our heart? Did we meditate like the saints taught us? Have we found the essence of the Mass, the Mass in Spirit and in Truth?

We lost a third of our parishioners? Instead we should have gained a new third interested in the beauty of Christianity. Many people live on the perimeter of our Parish and never come. The message of Covid should have attracted a new third. 

Is Christianity first and foremost an experience in faith of meeting the Risen Lord or just a creed, some Rites and a few Commandments? Is Christianity teaching us how to meet the Risen Lord?

Covid was also a message to all Parishes to examine the Spirit and Truth of the christian experience. 

Covid is not a defining line which makes Christianity  virtual. Covid is supposed to make Christians cross the barrier of interiority. So they come back to their Parish renewed in their faith eager to live and worship in Spirit and in Truth.

Covid can be compared to persecution similar to the ones of the early centuries. Many lapsed. They needed to be reintegrated with the life of the community, but under which conditions? It was a test meant to offer us a true scan of the deep reality, of the spiritual health of the Faithful.. It was a grace in disguise, a reason for spiritual growth. God forcing us to move up a gear, enter a new mansion.

Covid’s message is still here. It is the narrow door of a test. We can still seize it. Jesus is still knocking at the door of our heart. Let us learn how to open it and learn how to receive Him in Spirit and in Truth, but first in the silence and solitude of our inner chamber where the Church finds its center.

Are there other doors for renewal within the Church?

Jean Khoury

8 December 2022