By Katie Dell

How can we grow closer to our Lord when it seems like many avenues for that have been taken away? With Masses and events being limited, we might feel that it is impossible to enter into a deeper relationship with God, but it’s actually the opposite. We are being invited to enter into our relationship with Him in a new way this year. This new way holds a lot of beauty because we are able to dive deeper into the way of life that Christ was living right before His Passion. Christ, removed from His community, hung on the cross for the good of all. He endured the pain and the suffering because He knew it would be given back to the world as grace. Jesus was removed from His community and held in captivity, and in a way, we are being asked at this time to do that as well.

We have been asked to leave behind our communities and stay within our homes for the greater good. But how do we, as the Body of Christ, stay connected to each other in this time? I wish I could say I’ve mastered this whole “virtual life” thing that we’ve been asked to switch to, but I don’t think I can. At the same time, I’m all for trying it out. I work as a youth minister, and I have to say that the first weeks of quarantine were the hardest since I started my job. I’ve lost face time with my teens, my volunteers, and even my coworkers. I’ve asked myself countless times how I do ministry, and even life during all of this. (As a side note: I’m an extrovert, so this is hard, man.) Throughout this time, I found myself navigating this new territory and trying to wrap my head around how to stay in community while not being allowed to be less than six feet away from another person. 

I have to acknowledge that the Lord has placed some great people in my life in order to take steps towards living a communal life. Praise God for the good friends He has placed in my life who long for community! My group of friends has tackled each new challenge in a different way. When Masses were first canceled, we rallied to share dinner and discuss the readings. As fear and restrictions grew, we reassessed and all downloaded an app, making it possible for us to video chat so we could continue praying with the Sunday readings. News is constantly updating and so are the methods we must use to connect with people. I’ve heard of friends sharing a screen to all watch Mass together or of people coming together via video call to partake in praise and worship sessions. 

With all these approaches, we must note that there is a level of intentionality that is new. My heart breaks every time I think about the countless number of people I said goodbye to thinking I would see them in a few short days, not knowing it might be weeks before I saw them in person again. Jesus converted many through His intentional gaze–let us regain this intentionality that began our faith. Let us go meet the gaze of Christ through daily personal prayer, so we can learn how to approach this time with that same intentionality. As we are being asked to distance ourselves from this world, I urge you to lean into our Lord. Pray with the Mass readings and the many beautiful prayers the Church has given us. Pray for our communities and the world we live in.

Amidst the unknown, one thing stands steady before all of us–our Lord and His faithfulness to those He loves. Just as Jesus prayed to the Father on the cross, we are invited into prayer in our time of isolation. Right now, as those who cannot go to Mass hunger for the Eucharist, we have hope in the glory of the Resurrection. I pray this time is one of great reflection for our Church.