By Lindell Joseph
The past 15 months have been unprecedented, and now we are being asked to return to “normal.” Some people are excited and others are cautious. Clearly, we are in a transition. So, what is a transition? It is a discrete life event or a sharp discontinuity with a previous way of life. Concrete examples are the new mask-less guidelines if fully vaccinated by the CDC or the church moving another step toward reopening.
Life changes have caused many of us to pause and ponder. When I first learned that the church would move another step toward reopening, I had mixed feelings. There is no way I would attend Mass without a mask. I walked into a Sunday Mass and less than one-third of attendees were wearing a mask. Wow, this was a quick transition. How do I justify removing my mask so quickly, even though I was aware of the CDC and church guidelines, yet less than the threshold of 70% of people were vaccinated?
How each of us responds will depend on the timing, our emotional state, how we are developing, our personal decision-making, family members’ risk factors, and our church relationships and community. Many of us are still asking:
• How do I return to normal?
• How does this change affect my home life, work life and church attendance?
• How do I feel comfortable sitting in closer proximity to others?
Our response will be influenced by our experiences in the past 15 months. In our Healthy Habits Ministry, Marygrace Elson felt this is an important time in our parish to support transitioning back to church by ensuring a surge of reminders around faith, hope and charity for those present and those still at home. For many in our Healthy Habits Ministry, our perspectives about life, church and family have evolved, but we are confident that a surge of faith, hope and charity are critical actions and reminders to transition back to church and “normal life.”
Three tips: To ensure healthy habits during this transition!
Tip #1: A Reminder of Faith
Scripture: Romans 10:17 — Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
Act of Faith: Try to resume church attendance since it is now safer based on the CDC guidelines.
Tip #2: A Reminder of Hope
Scripture: 1 Timothy 4: 10 — For this we toil and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all, especially of those who believe.
Act of Hope: At St. Patrick Church in Iowa City, we are developing a “Wall of Hope” to provide messages of hope to each other post-pandemic.
Tip #3: A Reminder of Charity
Scripture: 1 John 4:19 — We love because he first loved us.
Act of Love: Say welcome back to a parishioner or do something kind for a neighbor, who you may not have interacted with for more than a year.
Remember, transitions are only events, but how we perceive and respond to these transitions will be the “game changer” for our future, church families and spiritual lives. Let’s engage in Healthy Habits of faith, hope and charity as we transition to “normal life.”
Hutchison, E. (2017). Life Course Theory. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-32132-5_13-2
CDC (2021) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
(Lindell Joseph, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a nurse, professor, and director of the MSN/CNL program at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She is a parishioner of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City. She is a lay Carmelite who co-chairs the Healthy Habits Ministry at her parish.)