Contributors Seeking Christ's heart

We can shrink social distance while still keeping physical distance

Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Deacon Dana Nearmyer

A lot of us have felt blue and deflated.

There is a widespread hurt and detachment in our young people. Lots of trips and activities have been canceled or moved online.

Physical distancing has been necessary, but social distancing is devastating to us individually, as families and as church communities.

Camp Tekakwitha is running a full slate of camps this summer. That would not normally be big news, but this year, it is exciting that the laughter of young people and songs of praise will fill the blue sky.

Our psychiatric and mental health workers are booked solid. Marriages are under stress. All of us need to find ways to release stress, find focus and shrink the social distance between us, while staying safe.

Camp Tekakwitha is a great way to release stress, find focus and shrink the social distance around, while staying safe. Youth and families can hike, climb, canoe, bike, swim and try their hand at archery, while finding focus in vibrant prayer experiences.

At camp, social interaction is palpable and enduring. Camp will have many levels of safety, but the experience of campers will be a vibrant experience of faith, fun and friends.

As individuals, families and parish communities we are called to find ways to safely shrink social distance. While we need to temporarily physically distance, we must work hard to find safe ways to build and strengthen relationships and reduce social distance.

The Eucharist is central to Catholic life because Jesus is central to Catholic life. The Eucharist invites each of us into the perfect communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In creating Adam, God said that it is not good to be alone. There is a beautiful Greek word called “perichoresis” that is used to describe the dance or rotation that we are invited into through the Eucharist.

The heavenly community flows from the Trinity to Mary to Joseph and all the saints and angels. We pray in the Our Father the words “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Most parishes have worked very hard to offer Mass and the reception of the Eucharist in a variety of ways, so even the most vulnerable can safely receive the Eucharist and the sacraments.

Our next challenge is to work hard to find safe ways to build and strengthen relationships and reduce social distance in parish life.

Frequently calling friends and loved ones can be great comfort. Video calls can be healing in seeing faces and the growing grandchildren. Driveway gatherings for friends and Bible study groups can be great ways to safely gather in warmer weather.

Disciples throughout history have found ways to have community through plagues and pestilence. Our best efforts and thinking need to be aimed at inviting our community back to safe, vibrant liturgy and to safe, vibrant communal life that shrinks social distance, regardless of the amount of physical distance that is asked of us by public health officials.

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Deacon Dana Nearmyer

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