Birds flying from trees
Franciscan Spirit Blog

We Are One Family

Apr 6, 2021
We Are One Family | Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash
COVID-19 has splintered our human family.
But Pope Francis has words of wisdom for us to savor.

As COVID-19 made its presence known in February 2020, avowed introverts across the globe took to Twitter. @CrowsFault tweeted this on February 28:

“CDC: To prevent coronavirus stay home, avoid physical contact, and don’t go into large crowds.

Introverts: I’ve been preparing for this moment my entire life.”

I’m lucky that I’ve been spared the wrath of the pandemic, largely because I’ve played by the rules: limited exposure to people, masks in public, washing my hands to the point of discomfort. But there’s a side effect to these measures that I’ve struggled with for over a year: isolation. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we at Franciscan Media were strongly (though gently) encouraged to work from home as much as possible, suddenly the prospect of being separated from my work family became real.

We at St. Anthony Messenger and Franciscan Media are a kind of family—a loving, lovingly dysfunctional unit. Being separated from that family since March 2020 has been a challenge for me. Zoom calls are an essential component to our workday, but I prefer in-person meetings. Slack and other forms of instant messaging are helpful, but I’d rather have a visitor in my office.

Simply put: I miss my community. I’m wired for a group dynamic.

 

Separate but Together

Case in point: Years ago, I participated in a Myers-Briggs exercise. I was tasked with answering a dizzying number of questions and meeting with a counselor to discuss my results, which revealed I was ENFP. In layman’s terms, I’m an extrovert who leads with his heart. No great mystery to me.

It has certainly weighed on my heart that, since COVID-19, my office is now my living room. I do not hear my coworkers anymore; I read their e-mails and instant messages. Lunches aren’t vibrant outings but quiet meals alone in my home. I’m grateful that this organization’s first priority is the health and wellness of its employees. It’s kept me well—though a bit heartsick.

Pope Francis understands. In his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” he writes: “A worldwide tragedy like the COVID-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together. Amid this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about appearances, has fallen away, revealing once more the ineluctable and blessed awareness that we are part of one another, that we are brothers and sisters of one another.”

Words that I need to keep front and center: Though separated, we are still connected.


How has your faith sustained you during the pandemic? Share your thoughts below. They may end up St. Anthony Messenger's September issue!

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Comments

Submitted by Arlene B. Muller (not verified) on Tue, 04/06/2021 - 09:40 AM

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I am grateful that since July 2020 there has been a lot of opening up out of quarantine. In our diocese of Brooklyn/Queens public communal Masses were open at 25% capacity with social distancing, vigilant sanitary measures, hand sanitizers & masks & now our churches are open at 50% capacity. Since our first public weekend Mass on July 4th (a fitting day to celebrate our freedom) I have been able to serve as a lector, using a different pulpit from the priest, & wearing a mask whenever I am not reading at the pulpit, & as EM, using hand sanitizer before & after distributing Holy Communion & giving Holy Communion in the hand with minimal physical contact while wearing a mask in my home parish. also sing in a singer's mask wearing, socially distanced choir/ensemble of a maximum of 14 people in my other parish. Since the end of June I have been able to go to my hairdresser & since July to my nail salon, all with masks & contact tracing. Restaurants have sometimes been restricted to outdoor dining but at other times we have had indoor dining with masks, limited capacity (from 25% to 35% to 50%), monitoring temperatures & contact tracing. Since September I have been able to do in person one-on-one speech/language therapy sessions wearing my mask, with contact tracing & my temperature taken at day care centers: some day care centers do not allow me to bring my own materials except for stickers & require me to use the day care centers' toys & books. So we ARE opening up, with strict protocols, careful precautions & careful monitoring. So maybe it is time for Franciscan Media to begin to opening up very cautiously, such as allowing a limited number of employees to work in the office on certain days on flex time. I am very grateful that Holy Week & Easter liturgies were celebrated with certain accommodations for COVID-19 (no washing of the feet, no kissing of the Cross but meditation before the Cross from the pew, no distribution of Holy water). We still need to be very cautious. But we can emerge & come back to life again & that began back in July 2020.

Submitted by Donna Hughes (not verified) on Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:56 PM

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I'm the introvert who has been preparing for this all of my life. I and my husband are retired, own our house and old farmstead. We have been able to weather the covid storm fairly well. I have always found God in the scripture of his original Bible, created by his hand, the natural world. I respect all life and look after it here. Now, as spring comes and the living soil gives back the beautiful wildflowers, trees bud, and small creatures come out again I look forward to the rebirth of the cycle of life that we are so plainly shown. I hope a few people, in their isolation, have rediscovered the beauty and inspiration of the natural world in the past year.

Submitted by Clarissa Cervantes (not verified) on Mon, 04/12/2021 - 01:02 PM

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My faith has sustained, guided and provided for me and my family during the pandemic, presenting also the opportunity for a long personal retreat during the slowdown of everything including business, commitments and activities. During several times of lockdown, I was able to prioritize and step back, reevaluating my life. Sometimes retreats are journeys through the desert rather than hikes up the mountain ! I also found myself with more time for bible readings, church online groups, weekend retreats and most of all silence. Silence on the streets, silence in my neighborhood and finally inward silence. Given the chronic exhaustion many of us carry in the 21st Century, we needed a long, insulated period of time to soften, ground, and recalibrate. After this overall system reset my faith, my life and my world have gained a different meaning because quite often we search for stated ways how to love God yet to attain a sense of his presence is so simple.

Submitted by Laura Shamber (not verified) on Mon, 04/12/2021 - 04:07 PM

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As coordinator of religious education and youth ministry who lives in northern New Jersey, we got hit hard very early in the pandemic and had to shut everything down for months. One of the things that kept my faith going was the weekly prayer intentions our high school youth group shared via a texting app. Reading their petitions for family and friends and their support for one another helped me stay connected through praying together - even though it was virtual. We have kept the practice going during the weeks when we cannot meet in person or via Zoom. I am grateful for all the moments of prayer I experienced in the past year, especially ones shared with our youth group.

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