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

On Barb’s Bookshelf: The Friendship Project

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Today I’m your hostess for “Friendship Friday” on The Friendship Project blog tour. This new book from Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet (Ave Maria Press, 2017) inspires women to foster friendships based on holy virtues.

The title of this book immediately made me think of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, but there’s a big difference here. Rubin’s book is all about how to make things more pleasant for yourself. The Friendship Project invites you outside your personal cocoon into a world of relationship where you and your friends encourage each other. As Sister John Dominic, O.P., remarks in her back-cover endorsement,

“We live in a technology-driven world where people are instantly connected, yet in our own personal lives, we often feel isolated and alone. … [The Friendship Project] underscores the truth that happiness lies in living a virtuous life.”

Friends since college, Michele and Emily write from their own experience, sharing the joys of their twenty-year friendship. Each chapter features a pair of women saints who were friends, and focuses on one virtue that will help us to become better friends and deepen our spiritual friendships.

friendship project

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I was struck by this book’s lovely cover design featuring images by Ivona Staszewski. The folk-art style portraits of saints fit so well with the down-to-earth treatment of saints and holy friendships that Emily and Michele discuss in this book.

Emily Jaminet (l) and Michele Faehnle with advance copy of The Friendship Project at Catholic Marketing Network 2017. Photo copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.
Emily Jaminet (l) and Michele Faehnle with advance copy of The Friendship Project at Catholic Marketing Network 2017. Photo copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

I met Emily and Michele earlier this summer at the Catholic Marketing Network, where they displayed advance reading copies of their book. They are powerhouses: energetic, prayerful, dedicated women–and clearly BFFs. When you meet them in this book, you’re going to want what they have. When you read The Friendship Project, you’ll find out how to get it.

Friendship Friday blog tour for
Courtesy of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Visit the other stops on The Friendship Project blog tour!


This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz