On Blackouts

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Guest post by Gerard M. Nadal.

Something strange and beautiful is happening in the Church amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. A reawakening to intimacy is occurring. I’ve experienced this several times with the family when the lights have gone out in storms and summer blackouts. When plunged into darkness the candles come out, and we see each other in a whole new light, literally and metaphorically.

We are drawn to the focal point of illumination and in so doing are drawn closer to one another. We pray, play games, eat, talk, and begin to glory in one another’s company. Our routines being disrupted, togetherness beyond the norm becomes the new routine.

And then the beauty is shattered when the lights suddenly come back on. To a person everyone in the family has said how let down they are, and one time beloved daughter Beth ran around turning off every light in the house to keep the beauty going.

That was itself an act of indescribable beauty. The convenience of electricity led us into complaisance more than once. The broad availability of light in every room, while a great thing, also helped us take one another for granted. Only when we were deprived of the abundance did we draw near to one another around the single source of illumination.

The same is taking place in society and the Church as we are deprived of our daily routines and the broad availability of Mass in every parish, every day of the week. Many of us have taken for granted the Light of the World, consumed by our hectic lives. And then a virus comes along and deprives us of the daily routine as surely as the loss of electricity. It has also deprived us of the Masses we have so often taken for granted.

With live-streaming we are rediscovering the Masses, the rosaries, the meditations we eschew in our hectic lives. Parish families are drawing closer together around these single sources of illumination, and we are seeing Jesus and one another in a whole new light. And with every passing day, the love, the craving intensifies.

When the lights inevitably come back on in our daily lives, will we sense a sudden loss deeper than what we thought we had lost when they went out? Will we run around turning them off to keep the intimacy going?

I hope so.


Dr. Gerard M. Nadal currently serves as the President and CEO of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer. He blogs at Coming Home: Science in Service of the Pro-Life Movement.

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