The “new normal” has us wearing masks, gloves, and staying six feet away from people other than those in our household. They call it social distancing and it’s caused us to be more cognizant of not just our environment, but the people we come across in our daily journeys.
It may be that we need to think we travel in a bubble that keeps us appropriately spaced from others, but has it impacted our relationship with God? While many dioceses have given a general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays, that does not mean we should seek distance from God. He is always calling us to come closer and into a deeper relationship with Him. While six feet may seem very far for friends and relatives, if we were as close as that to the Eucharist in the monstrance during adoration, we may say that’s too close! But God wants us even closer. Bishop Barron has often commented in his videos about the word reconciliation, which shares its root with cilia, or eyelashes, so that the meaning is to see again eyeball to eyeball with God. Now that’s close!
As things start to open up, times and availability may still be limited. We may need to plan a bit more in order to complete our daily tasks. Even more important as going to the gym or the store is our time with God. Even if we delay our return to social tasks, we still need to make sure our routine contains time to spend in prayer, spiritual reading, contemplation, etc. When we return to Mass, we realize that as we receive the Eucharist, God will be a whole lot closer than six feet as we receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He is in us and we are in Him.
As we pay attention to the physical distance we keep from others for health reasons, we need to keep equally mindful of the strength of our relationships with others. Yes, our social interactions have changed, but they have not been completely destroyed. We need to seek out creative ways to be the Church, that is the Body of Christ, to the world we currently live in. Now may be a time to step outside our comfort zone to say hello to another instead of just smiling. You can still smile as well, while others may not see it behind a mask, the smile comes out in your voice and words. We can still participate in food drives, online prayer groups and Masses to stay connected to our parish and community during this difficult and awkward time.
The six foot social rule is challenging because we’re not used to it. Yet it may produce the fruits of the Spirit in our relationship with God and those who cross our paths. Let us embrace the challenge and seek to be closer with God and our neighbors, no matter what the physical distance is between us.