As their children return to school this year, families are holding tightly to one of the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love.
Right now, families are all about hope.
Hope for normalcy.
Hope that classes remain in person.
Most of all, there is hope that the surge in COVID-19 cases will ease and their children stay healthy.
At the same time, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville, which share these hopes, are looking to the virtue of faith.
The Office of Catholic Schools is calling on families to find ways to safely live their faith more fully by re-engaging in parish and school life.
As the superintendent of schools, Dr. Mary Beth Bowling writes in her back-to-school column this week, “I believe we first must begin rebuilding relationships and reinvesting in the life of our parish and school communities.”
“Our children need stability and support to begin to reconnect to their God and their faith,” she writes. “They need the support system in the larger parish community that we know will form the foundation for success in the classroom.”
In short, our schools and parishes won’t be the same without you. You matter.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz had a similar message this week in a letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
The letter centered on his decision to restore the obligation to attend Mass — and thereby receive the Eucharist — in September. The obligation had been lifted in March of 2020 as COVID-19 first surged in the United States.
He describes the obligation not as a requirement but as an act of faith motivated by love, the third and greatest theological virtue.
In the Eucharist, he explains, “Jesus gives Himself to us in this way because He loves us and wants us to be joyful. He also wants us to share this extraordinary gift of joy with the world through our witness and acts of service.”
He goes on to explain, just as Bowling does, how important it is to be present to one another.
“While I was very grateful for the creativity of our parishes in offering live-streaming and other virtual options for Mass when we could not attend or had limits on attendance, there is no substitute for our physical presence at Mass,” he writes.
“The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith because this is where we pray with our brothers and sisters, members of the Christian community.”
He acknowledges that not everyone can join in physically. The obligation to attend Mass includes its traditional exemptions for those who are sick, caregivers and those who are unable to attend Mass.
It also includes exemptions for COVID-19. The obligation doesn’t apply to those who are vulnerable to the virus or to those who feel anxious about it.
But for those whose lives have returned to normal — if you’re eating out and going to concerts and sporting events — your church is asking you to come back.
Return to Mass with appropriate health and safety precautions, re-engage in school and parish life. Receive the Eucharist and the joy it brings.
Bring your gifts to the life of the church — your presence matters.
Don’t delay. As the pandemic has taught us all, the situation can change rapidly.