April 27, 2020 — “The crisis provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on at least three important challenges faced in particular by western societies: that people need to live in a community, but do not have the skills to create one easily; that political structures lose or have lost the capacity to elicit a desire to serve the public good among their citizens; and that many people no longer have the spiritual resources to discover a deeper meaning that can help to guide them in the time of crisis,” explains Fr. Gilles Mongeau, S.J., Socius of the Jesuit Province of Canada.
In this context, Jesuits and their colleagues across the world are showing a great deal of creativity, whether its bringing people together in new ways, or being there to listen and accompany them through these troublesome times by connecting with those they serve online or by telephone. But they are also equipping these same people with the means create their own communities or put themselves in the service of the common good.
The initiatives launched by the Jesuits of Canada favour the creation of small, online “base communities,” including, among others, providing tools for spiritual conversations and for communal discernment. We are also offering several different “spiritual retreats” and exercises for meditation in a time of crisis in order to help people re-centre themselves, so that they can experience a more profound internal peace and freedom and open themselves to new possibilities and directions in their life. “We are therefore putting an emphasis on personal formation in order to help people empower themselves and take responsibilities for the common good.”
—Fr. Gilles Mongeau.
With this in mind, below are five resources offered by the Jesuits of Canada.
In this period of lockdown, an adapted version of spiritual conversation can be a valuable tool for staying connected to God and others, for experiencing the presence of Christ among us and to recognize where the Holy Spirit invites us to venture in this context. Sister Laurence Loubières has therefore prepared a simple tutorial to conceive and host a spiritual conversation online. This tool can be used at work and shared with the people whom you usually serve.
Although churches are closed, the Church is above all the people who God gathers as the Body of Christ. Here is a simple method for online group prayer using the Word of God and different teleconferencing and video communication techniques.
COVID-19 can create lead to anxiety, stress and isolation among many people. A “network of listeners” has therefore been formed in order to help people affected by the pandemic with their fears and their questions. These listeners are priests, deacons, clerics and laypeople who are already experienced in listening to people dealing with difficulties in their lives.
How can technology help us to maintain personal connections and build a community in our current situation? The idea is to offer the gifts that we already have and adapt them to the new context of physical isolation in which we find ourselves. This page will guide you through the process of taking your apostolic work online, offering equipment, tools for internal and external communication and examples of online work in practice.
On a previous post, we have surveyed Jesuit works and communities in order to find out how they were adapting to this new work situation. Whether individual meetings, events, or Masses, this article highlights several examples of the ways in which different apostolates, communities and individuals are offering their gifts through other channels. The idea behind this article is not for you to reproduce what others are doing, but to find creative ways of pursuing your own work in a new context and through different means.