I had to spend a few hours reflecting on this Sunday morning’s mass before writing about it.
Attending mass online has become part of my daily routine, and then became a vital part of my everyday routine. Each day I learned something new, and built my faith one step and one rock at a time because that is how I learn best. Sitting in a church passively is not the same as studying, and the pandemic time gave me a chance to do both.
And that – right there – is why I love the online Mass with Cardinal Collins. While it doesn’t – nor shouldn’t – replace real mass at the church with a real congregation, it was an interesting indoctrination for me into my newly found Christian faith. I had only a few weeks of getting to a real catholic church before the pandemic switch flipped here in Canada and non-essential services were ordered shut throughout the province.
Starting in February, I don’t think I missed a Sunday before the Archdiocese of Toronto officially cancelled mass on March 17th, 2020. Each week after that, I devoted time to getting to know the faith from a different point of view… online! Not just online, but getting to know the faith through good websites like Salt & Light TV, Formed and St. Augustine’s Seminary. I blended those with less traditional methods; such as listening to various priests online. I like to hear various perspectives before pulling my own theories together (it’s how I logic), and in doing so realized just how completely I had missed the word of God.
A few days after Cardinal Collins’ started live-casting online, I found the 7:30AM mass. I have not only followed almost every day, but learned my Rosary with him. This isn’t something I would have had the opportunity to do if we weren’t in pandemic mode.
If I was going to be socially distanced, I would try to make good use of this time.
Over the last few months I got to know my parish via it’s website, continued to support them, and also became familiar with other catholic churches both locally and virtually. While the clergy and laypeople can vary widely, we each have our perfect place in God’s plan. I learned so much just by taking the time to slow down and listen.
It was rather interesting to watch myself fall into old biases, then build new understanding and new appreciation for everything I have.
Take me, for instance… I am not what you would call “classic” material for a born-again Christian. Far from it! My track record is less than stellar and even I have wondered if I went over the 51% mark to the wrong side. But no; because good always wins.
I learned from every step I had taken, looking back and re-examining the things that happened. This gave me hindsight which reached farther and farther into my past over the years. Rocks were left where I had stumbled, so that when I returned I could find the breadcrumb. I could stop, pick it up and examine it. Where had I fallen? How? How far? I had to sit with that discomfort and face it.
Each step, however painful and no matter how many times I fell, He helped me get up and keep going. Slowly … one tiny moment at a time … pulling myself together and making myself stronger and better. That lead to objectivity and only then could I re-explore outside the boundaries of my own introspection. I found humility and kindness, which I think were always there, but the shine had worn thin. I felt like I was doing it entirely on my own, but I knew I wasn’t. God was there because I asked. I believed, so I had hope. In my case, he must have started with charity, otherwise I would have never found my grace. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are what keep us from each other.
I spent my pandemic isolation time expanding my understanding of the Catholic faith and my long and winding path to God.
My journey does feel like that of Frodo. One Frodo of many, for we are all journeyers.
For now, I will not rush back to church. There are many more ahead of me; the funerals for the dead, marriages which had to wait. I will continue to tune in live to Cardinal Collins and make space for others, and keep the candle burning at home.