The Internet and social media have been instrumental in these hard times of stringent confinement due to Covid-19. Thanks to digital platforms, citizens can keep up communication and contact. Many have become proactive in reaching out to others in need through solidarity initiatives.
In the religious realm, social media channels are a means to continue living the faith even if virtually. Livestreamed masses, webinars, talks, recollections and retreats are making up for the absence of the celebration of the Eucharist and parish activities. Will this be a “new normal” in the Church–that is, will parishes, dioceses and spiritual associations grab this chance to be ever more present in the digital world?
As an illustration to this point, it is worth mentioning the online retreat guided by Rev. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the Apostolic Administrator of Manila Archdiocese, in preparation for the Solemnity of Pentecost. A first-time initiative in the Archdiocese, the spiritual retreat was open to everyone and livestreamed on several Catholic social media outlets.
The theme was “Pentecost: from crises to renewal, from lockdown to mission.” As restrictions are easing up allowing for the resumption of work though in a limited scale, the three-day online retreat was intended as a preparation for the post-quarantine life and ministry.
After a two-month-and-a-half experience of lockdown, we are urged to go out renewed with new life. We do not go out of the quarantine just to return to our old self and the usual way of doing things. We go out with new perspectives, new zest and with greater commitment.
The current pandemic can be an opportunity to kick-start a renewal at the personal, community and parish level. During the coronavirus crisis, new forms of liturgical and pastoral activities sprouted in the Church at the service of the sick and poor. The Covid-19 pandemic will have long-lasting repercussions in society and in the life of the Church. How will Catholicism adapt in a post-coronavirus environment? Back to business as usual or a reconfiguration of our religious practices and mission?
As the Apostles were locked up in the upper room out of fear, the Holy Spirit breathed on them a new lease of life. The Spirit shattered the shackles of fear and sent them out. The Apostles underwent a change of heart – from being fearful and doubtful they turned out to be audacious evangelizers. Let us pray, then, for a new Pentecost as we exit the lockdown experience and move on to a new life after Covid-19.