I’VE HEARD IT SAID THAT DIFFICULT TIMES reveal our true character. The COVID-19 pandemic that blew in last March confirmed this to be true.
In a blink of an eye, our rhythm of life was suddenly altered and our security was shaken. Schools closed. The workplace changed. Masses were suspended. The places where we feel the most comfort were no longer available to us. Security was replaced by uncertainty, and tension and anxiety began to reveal the best and worst parts of humanity. It also revealed the best and worst parts of ourselves.
While suffering has a unique way of revealing our true character, it also has a unique way of revealing the true character of Christ. During societal unrest, Jesus reveals himself as peace. In our uncertainty, insecurity and fear, he reveals himself as firm, unchanging and secure. His light shines the brightest in our darkest hour, and he beckons us to witness to his light.
As Christians, it is our job to reveal the true character of Jesus, and he has planted his Church to be a witness precisely in difficult times like these. While COVID-19 brought many restrictions to our liturgies and parish life, it also shook us out of our normal routine, pushing us out toward new and creative ways to evangelize.
One of the fruits of the pandemic was the “curbside prayer” ministry that our parish cluster offered during the summer. Since we couldn’t get the community into the church, we decided to bring the church to the community by setting up a prayer booth near the curb in the parking lot of All Saints – St. Mary’s in Holdingford for people to walk, bike or drive up to receive prayer and encouragement.
The idea for “curbside prayer” came from the Avon Community Church where they have been offering this ministry twice a week since mid-March. I stopped by their prayer booth during the quarantine because I was in need of encouragement. I had hit a wall in my ministry, and I was desperately praying to God for direction on new ways to connect with the people I serve.
When I stopped by the Community Church, I didn’t expect that their curbside prayer would be the literal answer to my prayer! The women at the Avon Community Church graciously prayed with me and allowed me to pray with them. The Holy Spirit began to stir in my heart, and after I left their curbside prayer, I knew God was calling me to bless the people of our community in the same way I had just been blessed.
My pastor, Father Gregory Mastey, was exceptionally supportive of this ministry in our parishes, and it soon began to flower into something beautiful. Right before my eyes, new untapped gifts began to emerge from the parishioners who courageously stepped forward to participate in this ministry. From the catchy advertising to the efficient organization of our prayer materials, I found myself in awe of the creative gifts given by Christ to his people that enabled us to minister in new and exciting ways. What struck me the most, however, was the willingness of our parishioners to stretch outside their comfort zone by stepping out in faith to bring Jesus into the streets.
We divided our ministry into two teams: one that stayed outside praying along the curb and another that prayed inside the church, interceding for both the prayer team and prayer requests. While we all set out to be the face of Christ through this endeavor, I think we’d all agree that we saw his face in each person that came for prayer. Each evening we prayed that we would be able to offer faith and hope to all who would come for prayer. But the very act of stopping for prayer is an act of faith and hope, and I think we received more from the people coming for prayer than they received from us.
Because of our baptism, isolation never has the last word. Even if we are physically separated, we can take comfort knowing we are always united to Christ and one another, and it is our baptismal call to invite others into this beautiful place of belonging.
Curbside prayer allowed us the opportunity to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ that they are seen, known and cherished by their heavenly Father who desires to be in relationship with them.
Although we Catholics sometimes fumble in our extemporaneous prayer, we realized that when it comes to prayer, carefully crafted words aren’t that important. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Simply put, when we gather to pray in faith, Jesus shows up and marvelous things happen.
KRISTIN MOLITOR is the new evangelization coordinator for the Two Rivers Catholic Community of Holdingford, St. Anna and St. Wendel.