Faith in the Family

Faith in the Family

Our Cniotáil agus Comhrá group met on Thursday – a handy way  for people to catch up on some knitting tips and build their confidence in speaking Irish. We usually try to avoid any chat about Covid but on Thursday a question emerged, “Cá háit a rachfá dá dtiocfadh leat?” – where would you go if you could? We thought about it, “To the sea, I’d go and walk on a beach”, “To my daughter in Dublin, I haven’t seen her in months”, “To Paris!”. There was an energy and delight created just by talking about the possibilities.

As I write, we have just moved beyond the Spring Equinox. Today the daylight is that fraction longer than the darkness. We are moving  forwards into the light. Liturgically too we are about to celebrate Easter. The long Holy Saturday of this Lenten season is drawing to a close.

So as we approach Easter 2021, what does it mean for us? What will it mean for you? Strangely enough, I find it is the image of Lazarus emerging from the tomb which keeps coming back to me at the moment. How disoriented and unsure did he feel as he stepped out into the light? Are we perhaps a little like that as we think about a world beyond Covid?

Easter reminds us that God’s action in Jesus is stronger than any violence or destruction. God’s love, made real for us in Jesus cannot be suppressed, enclosed by the forces of darkness within the tomb. There has been a lot of darkness around over the past year. We have lived through fear and frustration, anger and anxiety. When I speak to people now I am aware of so many talking about how tired they are, how exhausted by restrictions, how worn down by trying to do the right thing. In the coming months we will emerge and maybe now is the time to reflect on how we want to do that.

Perhaps resurrection will be about allowing the energy and delight of new possibilities to open wide our hearts and liberate us from some of the anxiety and frustration we have carried. Perhaps it will mean a new awareness of the small things in life, blessings in the bits and pieces. Surely, after all we have been through we have learned something about a new way of living, an appreciation of community, a deep gratitude for the natural world, an awareness of our own lives and our own homes as a place of God’s presence.

I believe the Church is also called in a very particular way to resurrection at this time. The past year has been a rupture in our experience as Church and perhaps has been very useful in revealing some unpleasant truths to us. What can we learn? Are we open to resurrection and new life as Church? I am heartened to see that the Irish Bishops are planning a synod and say they are aware of the deep and challenging conversations that need to happen. Bishop Michael Router speaks of the need to find “a new way of being Church” and I would certainly agree with him. Bishop Michael Duignan talks about the importance of the Domestic Church – us, family, at home, living our faith but I think the past year has revealed that for many people, when the weekly Mass is taken away they are left lost and adrift. How much sense does “Domestic Church” make for them? What has been done to enable people to take ownership of the idea of their home as a holy, God-filled place where faith takes root? Have we the courage to have these conversations? Will we follow the Spirit? Cá háit a rachfá dá dtiocfadh leat?

In the resurrection of Jesus the whole of reality is transformed. Nothing is left untouched. Are we open to such radical transformation? After all we have been through ‘business as usual’ is not enough. Business as usual will not roll the stone away. We need resurrection, for ourselves – and for our Church.