By Christian Bergmann
During the COVID-19 lockdown, we at Holy Family decided to do something a little different with our Sunday mornings. Instead of livestreaming Masses, we thought this was a golden opportunity to dive deeper into our faith, especially with so much time on our hands. Every Sunday morning at 9.30, a large group of parishioners have been joining Father Pearce and myself (and lately our newest addition, Father Patrick Bradford) over Zoom to journey through a number of programs put together by Ascension Press and the Augustine Institute.
The turnout has been phenomenal. Every Sunday approximately fifty parishioners join the call. The weekly attendance has been stable with very little variation.
We started out with a program run by the Augustine Institute called Presence, a three-session program unpacking the mystery of the Eucharist through Scriptural exegesis, hearing the extraordinary and heroic witness of the saints, and sustained reflection by learned theologians and biblical scholars on the topic. The response to this program was resoundingly positive. People who were previously uncertain whether they would return to Mass after the lockdown were captivated in a new way by the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
To follow this program, we dove straight into what amounted to a virtual pilgrimage through the Holy Land. Led by Jeff Cavins and Marcello D’Ambrosio, we underwent a ten session, ten week program called Jesus: The Way, the Truth and the Life. Much like Jeff Cavins’ Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible, it charted a course through the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, visiting the places he travelled to and spoke at, shedding new light on his meaning and significance. Our hope with this program, alongside deepening our parishioners’ understanding of who Jesus is, was that it would provide people with a visual reference point for when they returned to Mass. Listening to the readings is one thing, but recognising the names of places, being able to visualise the spaces Jesus spoke in, to understand in a particular way the intention of his words is knowledge unparalleled and would hopefully bring the Sunday Gospel readings to life in a new and vibrant way.
Again, this program was a tremendous success. As such, we thought it would be appropriate to return to do another virtual pilgrimage through the Holy Land with Dr. Edward Sri’s A Biblical Walk with Mary. Marian devotion occupies an important place in the spiritual life of Catholics, but to see her anew through the perspective of the Gospel writers is invaluable. We are four sessions into this program, with several more to go, but the ability to visualise the terrain through which she walked, virtually visit her homeland, and understand the significance she held biblically has been invaluable to seeing how this has shaped the Catholic tradition’s approach to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
If you have been lost for things to do on a Sunday morning, please feel free to join us. It isn’t too late! We are always happy to take on more Zoomers who want to enter more deeply into the historical and biblical foundations of their faith.
Regardless of the speed at which Victoria’s lockdown eases, we hope to continue running programs like this into the future, whether over Zoom or in person. They have proven fruitful for the parishioners of Holy Family and we hope these programs will have shaped our hearts to return to the sacraments with renewed zeal and renewed faith.
For more details, visit the Holy Family website:https://holyfamily.melbourne/e...