We set out on a journey to ask several among the Churches of the world:
Where do you see Christ amidst COVID-19?
Where do you see Unity?
How can you make sure that the vulnerable among you are being cared for?
We have been able to have some fascinating conversations surrounding these questions.
One of the first such conversations was with the Very Reverend Mark Morozowich, the Dean of The School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America and a priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
I have known Fr. Mark for a while, and it is always a pleasure to talk with him – he is an insightful and passionate priest.
“When we look at the Body of Christ, we see the community that believes in the Lord. Despite the situation that we are now facing, there is a bright horizon – there is a wonderful ethos of community.”
That is where we began. Rev. Morozowich begins with Christ and Community! This is a great place to start, and it only gets better from there.
He spoke of seeing this “ethos of community” all around, despite the locking down of society: manifest in videos, in emails, in phone calls, in providing food for those who cannot get it, and food for those who are without.
“We see [bright horizons] especially right now in those who are active serving in the medical field- they really are at the front lines facing this pandemic. It is fascinating to see how differently the community comes together to serve one another and to share Christ’s love in this time.”
Yet, through all of this, he spoke of the yearning for an in-person community in times when it is difficult to come by. He spoke of not being happy with the current situation.
“I hear people asking “when can we gather again for liturgy? When can we come together again as community? When can I receive the Sacraments?”
Though some places have since regained their ability to gather, Washington D.C. is not one of those places. There are still live-streaming liturgies on Facebook, but no gatherings for Mass or Divine Liturgy in the city.
“When we look at the reality of who we are as the Body of Christ, as Baptized Children of God, each has a direct experience of our Lord though the presence of the Holy Spirit. Of course, as the Church, we have the ministry of priests,” he said.
Quickly he turned and reminded: “Lack of access to priest does not mean lack of access to God.”
As Pope Francis recently reminded us, one who is truly repentant has access to the forgiveness of God. This does not mean, of course, that we are to neglect what we know to be good – what God has shown us. Confession is essential to the life of a Christian. To gather for Liturgy is crucial to the life of the Church, however, Rev. Morozovich reminded:
“God is here and active. God is still here and he keeps his community together. Prayer, even alone in our room, is efficacious.”
So when we return to prayer together, when we return to gathering to sing, to hear Scripture, to receive Christ in His Eucharist, we cannot ignore what we have been through. We will be changed.
Fr. Mark said in closing, “We will return together with a new understanding of who we are as the Body of Christ, those called together in His Name.”