I get excited when I learn new terms. In doing so, in my own self-delusion, I somehow feel that I’m with the “IT” or “HIP” crowd as I embrace these new terms. However, this week I wasn’t terribly happy to learn a new term . . . . . that of, “SOCIAL DISTANCING”. With the spread of COVID-19 we are being asked, amongst other things, to: avoid handshaking as a greeting; limit food handling and sharing of food; consider rescheduling non-essential travel and movement; keep a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres away from people; etc. This is essential and we must adhere with diligence to all of the Health Authorities’ requests at this time. We rely on their expertise and are thankful for their gifts and talents helping us stay safe.

At this time, we as Individuals are asked to consider our own health, both our potential to infect others and our susceptibility to infection. If we feel unwell or susceptible to infection – we should remain at home. In staying at home in these times, we should consider ourselves dispensed from the Sunday obligation (see Catholic Catechism #2180 & #2181 – the faithful are obliged in our Sunday obligation, unless excused “for a serious reason (for example illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor”). If staying at home, we are encouraged to continue prayer and reading of the Bible, on Sunday’s especially. Good prayer websites include – www.pray-as-you-go.org; www.thegodminute.org. There is also the ability to watch daily Mass online, via the website – https://www.Northsydneycatholics.com/spirituality/liturgy/mass-on-demand. Sunday Mass is on channel 10 at 6am Sunday mornings. Family members may like to consider recording this for our seniors to watch in their homes.


BUT WHAT IS “SOCIAL DISTANCING”? In all of this, it is vital that we maintain our Christian identity. “Social Distancing” for the Christian has very little to do with the physical elements, to which we must adhere. We need to be aware of a loving community. We need to be calm and caring of others in our shopping patterns in times of panic and anxiety. We need to have compassion over fear. And when we may have to be in isolation because of sickness, we need to know that we do not need to be lonely, for Isolation and Loneliness are different. This is where Christianity and the message of Jesus Christ turns human fear, panic and distress on its head. For the Christian, “SOCIAL DISTANCING” can in fact NEVER take place, because we are a community of love that goes much deeper than physicality, which links me to Christ himself in this Christian Community of St. Pat’s Mortlake.

Fr. Tom

Rev Fr Tom Stevens