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Being disciples in isolation

Opinion

During our current extraordinary time of social distancing, health consciousness and concerns, and attempting to deal with many unknowns related to the present health pandemic, our most significant celebration of Easter has taken place.

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Under normal circumstances, we would have celebrated together the ceremonies of the triduum, welcomed our RCIA candidates and renewed our own commitment in faith to the risen Lord. Those sacred days – Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday – have still been observed and we have participated, but differently, from our own homes.

Easter is a time for celebrating new life and for reminding ourselves of our baptismal calling. Baptism is the first glorious sacrament we receive and it signifies the beginning of our journey in faith within the Catholic community. Our lives are ‘plunged’ into the life of Christ through the waters of baptism. At baptism we become a new creation, identifying with Christ the risen Lord. St Paul uses the language of being ‘in Christ’ to emphasise our closeness to the Lord.

Confirmation is the sacrament that seals our baptism, and marks a time of making our own the baptismal promises made by our parents and godparents, as they presented us for baptism as infants. For adults being received into the Church, the baptismal promises build on their desire and readiness to accept the Catholic faith through baptism and to confirm their commitment to the Lord.

As we grow in wisdom, age and grace, we grow into deeper understandings about what it means to be a confirmed member of the Catholic community. The invitation is for us to become more active as Christians through prayer and reflection on the life of Jesus, and engagement in his mission. At baptism we are named and claimed for Christ; at confirmation we become empowered by the Spirit to speak boldly and to live as Spirit-filled disciples, called to take part in the mission of Jesus and to make a difference in the world.

The wonderful feast of Pentecost is a celebration of the renewal in faith of the community through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit promised by Jesus who calls us forth, who sustains and reassures us and who empowers us to spread the good news of Jesus. This same Spirit of Jesus is with us now as we continue to yearn for the nourishment we receive through being together as a community of faith; perhaps the lack of opportunity for us to gather as a community may develop within us a renewed faith and hunger for the Eucharist that we can normally so readily receive when we celebrate weekly the Lord’s day at our Sunday Eucharistic celebration.

We have a long tradition of Christians seeking opportunities to deepen their prayer lives and to welcome the Lord into their daily lives. Some of these opportunities have come through periods of silence, isolation, retreat, and pilgrimage.

As disciples of Jesus we are called to take time, to listen deeply to the Word of God and to seek clarity of vision so that we may indeed live as Spirit-filled disciples.

During our time of social distancing, perhaps our challenge is to bring our communities to our prayer each day; to reach out in different ways to those in need; to be thankful for all the blessings we receive and to act with justice, loving kindness and hope in our hearts, secure in the knowledge that Jesus’ promise of his presence to his disciples is for us also.

As they gathered together long ago in the ‘Upper Room’ in unity of purpose to remember Jesus, to pray, share the breaking of the bread and to care for the needy, may we emerge from our isolation full of the Spirit and with compassionate hearts, ready to be witnesses to our risen Lord.

Kathy Horan is liturgy educator with the Office for Worship.

 

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