The Covid pandemic and the closure of Churches for public worship in March 2020 removed the practice of regular ‘church going’ and broke the cycle of weekly Mass attendance.
Even before Covid, church attendance had ceased for many or more likely been reduced to a number of occasions during the year, such as funerals, weddings, baptisms anniversaries, and the great feasts like Christmas and Easter.
Does this mean that people are losing their faith in God and in Jesus Christ? Apparently not! Sometimes in conversation when the topic of faith crops up, people will say, ‘oh I talk to God or I pray in my own way’. If the question is asked, ‘when or where or how do you talk to God?’, the answer is often very hesitant and uncertain or there is a telling silence. For all that, people reassure us that the faith is there, just not practiced weekly by Mass attendance.
Today’s adults have the advantage of being raised in an atmosphere of faith. We have a rich faith heritage going back many generations. We have memories of our parents’ and grandparents’ faith and prayer. We grew up in communities where faith was important and the Church was the centre of parish life. We have the language of faith so can carry on a reasonable conversation about our memories of belief and practice.
The question arises what about the children, the next generation? They do not have a full cupboard of remembered belief and practice. The concern is, that as they journey through life, things will happen which will test their beliefs and the values they live by. This may well be undramatic and happen quietly. At that point they may find their faith again or lose it altogether
For others a painful illness, a bereavement or and addiction may transform their lives and reveal God to them.
Faith is a living experience. We find God in our daily lives or we lose God altogether.
For faith to give meaning to our lives, we need a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Sadly, it will not happen automatically and cannot be taken for granted. It requires time and discipline if the Lord is to be given the opportunity to confirm our faith and help us to be a support to one another.
Our presence as part of the community at the weekend Mass deepens our faith and supports others in their faith. As Jesus says, ‘where two or three are gathered in my name I am with them’. When the followers of Jesus began to drift away, Jesus said to the Apostles, ‘And what about you, do you want to go away too?’. It was Peter who responded, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life’.