Sunday, we returned to our cars at Nativity of Our Savior.
When my home parish was founded in 1965, we had no church building. Instead, the Catholics in our rapidly growing city held weekly drive-in services at the Portage Mall (think the National Mall, rather than the Mall of America).
I was not around then, but many of our parishioners hold fond memories of those DIY days. So when the novel coronavirus wiped out in-person church services throughout Indiana this week, those long-time parishioners called for a return to our roots.
Which is what led to a hundred or so parishioners sitting in their cars at the church today, our radios tuned into an FM station to listen to Father Kevin lead Mass inside. Heritage Mass, we labeled it. Others stayed home, watching the Mass on the parish’s Facebook page.
These are most unusual times, certainly unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. With apologies to 9/11, my suspicion is the COVID-19 outbreak will become the defining communal experience of our lives.
As a Catholic, I’m hopeful our inability to worship publicly reminds of us its enduring value, and leads to a jolt of renewed attendance when we get on the backside of this pandemic. Likewise, I hope the fear and concern we’re all experiencing now serve as a catalyst to sincere prayer. The world desperately needs as much as it can get right now.