Beyond the Reach of Virtual Mass and Virtual Bulletins

In my part of the world, the churches have been open (at very limited capacity) for a little more than two weeks. And as in just about every other place, we’re wearing masks, the hymnals have been removed, there’s no holy water in the stoups, and “holy hand sanitizer” awaits you at the entrance where you check in with the ushers of a Sunday, for low-tech contact tracing.

And there are no bulletins.

Sure, you can read them online — and I do — but when a good number of parishioners are not comfortable with technology (if they even have access to a computer or smartphone at all), those parishioners are cut off from the life of the Church in yet another important way.

Yes. Bulletins are important. If the parish leaders think it’s important enough to create a bulletin (whether or not it’s offered in printed form, and during this pandemic, it’s digital only) then there needs to be a way to get them to the people who, I’d argue, miss them the most.

I wouldn’t even have thought of this, were it not for one of my friends, a fellow Secular Franciscan, who lives alone and does not have access to technology. While she is in good health, praise God, she is the ultimate people person and has definitely suffered during this time of isolation. I haven’t seen her at Mass yet because I have been singing at a different time than normal, but our first Sunday back she saw our music director after Mass and mentioned that she really missed reading the bulletin.

The music director immediately reached out to me after that conversation to see if I had a mailing address for this friend and ask if I’d take care of sending her a bulletin. Since I have a computer and a printer and envelopes and stamps, how could I say no? So I’ve been printing the bulletin and mailing it out on Monday morning, with a little note to say hello.

Yesterday my friend showed up at my front door with a little gift and a thank-you note. It has meant a lot to her to receive those bulletins in the mail. It’s no big deal for me to do this, but it’s a big deal for her to get them. She thanked me several times — for the love. And that’s what it really is, just a small gift of love.

(Boy, that was a tough visit. I could see her holding herself back. She just wanted to give me a hug. Her arms would start to move toward me, and then she’d catch herself. As I said, she’s the ultimate people person and an incurable hugger. It was heartbreaking.)

Here’s my challenge to you: Can you bless someone who’s not a digital native? Can you print a bulletin for someone in your parish who has no access to technology, but would love to read the parish news? If you don’t know someone, ask at the parish office if there is a homebound parishioner who would like to receive a bulletin with a note and a promise of prayer. Who knows: you may foster a friendship that lasts longer than the painter’s tape marking social distance in the church pews.

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Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.


Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz

It’s the Economy, Stupid

Tonight we went out to dinner.

Intending to use a gift card TheDad received for Christmas, we headed for Outback Steakhouse (his favorite) only to discover that there was a 50- to 60-minute wait. Little Brother is too impatient for that, so we decided to try The Cheesecake Factory. They said the wait was only 25 to 30 minutes.

Fifty-five minutes later we were seated at our table. The place was full to bursting. It’s in the middle of a new shopping center, which was bustling with shoppers in its many upscale stores (shoppes?) When I wasn’t trying to amuse Little Brother, I kept myself busy, as I stood next to the constantly-opening door, checking out the Handbag Fashion Show. Coach and Gucci were well-represented tonight at The Cheesecake Factory.

It didn’t look like evidence of an economic downturn to me. People were shopping, and eating out–spending. So much for consumer confidence. I thought they looked pretty confident, and there was no lack of consumers.

Wishing We Didn’t Have to Have These Conversations…

Middle Sister to TheDad, as she walked up behind him as he sat at the computer: “Can I come over there, or is that something about Saddam Hussein that I’m not allowed to see?”

Really. Do we need all these pictures of the Swinging Dead Dictator? I had to read the newspaper very carefully this morning–I’m thankful for the warning they put on Page One that on Page Eleven there would be “graphic photos.” Then I made sure TheDad folded the paper back up after he read it, so there would be no chance that squeamish ME or impressionable children would have to see that.

Father Martin has a good link in his post about the reasons behind the execution, though I don’t think killing anyone is ever a good idea. There are also very important points made in Song of November, especially the part about Saddam now becoming a martyr for his twisted causes.

I have to just give up. I’ll never understand all this or even begin to. May God have mercy on Saddam’s soul; may the families of all who were hurt by his actions and policies be comforted; and may all who work toward evil come to a change of heart.