The Giglio feast at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg returns this month to its pre-pandemic splendor.
As parishioners, visitors, and vendors flood the streets around the Church with its celebratory nature of crowds hugging and shaking hands as the four-story Giglio is lifted and paraded through the street, the feast is truly a special event for the parish and the diocese.
It’s not lost on us that this was not the case during the pandemic.
What was learned during the pandemic was a way we could cope by using technology to deal with the lockdowns. Examples: Buying groceries and household supplies online to be delivered to the front door; attending Mass via parish website broadcast of the daily service; participating virtually in co-op or condo board meetings instead of physically gathering with neighbors.
What was also lost during that time was all the daily interpersonal communications we had with friends and family. Facetiming was a poor substitute for keeping up with daily interactions.
And yet we persevered.
We had to put up with checking ourselves out at the drugstore instead of chatting with the woman who lived around the block and worked there for the last eight years after her husband passed. Or forgoing that special once-a-month dinner out at your favorite local restaurant, where the proprietor has known you for years and knows what everyone in your family likes to order.
Daily interactions with friends and neighbors outside Church after Mass or at the bakery after that are what sustain a spiritual life. You get to see how they are coping, and they can see if you need a pick-me-up. Technology can’t do that for us.
As Catholics, the Mass and celebratory events in the parish — like the Giglio — are the means to come together as a community.
So we are called to come together as the People of God to actively participate in the celebration of the Eucharist.
We are called to receive the Body of the Lord, and we are called to celebrate that joy with our fellow brothers and sisters.
This is one of the most important lessons learned during the pandemic. We need others in our lives to co-celebrate our faith and make it a much more rewarding and dramatic experience.
So as the weather is warm and your parish may have a plant sale or a barbeque for the parish families, or maybe a prayer service in the grotto, why not come together as one faith community? You are not only building your faith, you are building the faith of everyone else who attends.
And that’s how we put the final nail in the coffin of this pandemic.