Under Curfew With Christ
The SCCs of St Francis Xavier Church, Dabul rally together in love
The prolonged lockdown in India has certainly brought a number of challenges in its stride. The year 2020 will certainly be remembered for a long time to come—as one which halted life as we know it, and altered our priorities. However, the forced break has also unearthed a number of blessings – one of which has been testing the relevance and resolve of the SCCs in our parishes. And one could say that for the most part, the SCCs have stood up to expectations, becoming the primary channel for reaching out to parishioners, identifying families and individuals in need of help, becoming a conduit for information to flow from the priests of the parish to families, and providing spiritual strength and succour to the elderly and homebound.
The nine SCCs of St Francis Xavier Church, Dabul have tried their best to keep the ‘Church’, the Body of Christ, alive and strong in faith and action ever since the lockdown began. The main church building may have been closed, but the Church has continued to subsist in its families in the various communities, thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of the SCC Coordinators and animators.
The first challenge was satisfying a spiritual hunger, especially as it became more and more clear that Holy Week would pass by under lockdown. A number of spiritual activities were conducted by the SCCs, both before and after Easter. Following the example of the Youth Group, a number of communities came together to record an audio Way of the Cross; each station was recorded by one family, and then all the 14 Stations were put together, and passed on to all the families of that community, so that they could use that to pray. This was done each Friday through Lent. Thus, it became personal and endearing, since one could hear familiar voices reciting the prayers and reflections.
The same was done with the Rosary and the Divine Mercy novena. Communities have come together on video chat platforms like ZOOM to pray together. The children were included with a beautiful video brought out showing the children of one community reciting Psalm 91 (You can watch the video at this YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKEq0wRuL00). The children have also been anchored to the parish and to their faith with regular faith-based activities through the Sunday School, which they do at home and send a picture of their project or activity to their Sunday School teacher through WhatsApp. These activities are called Curfew with Christ. The Youth have been doing various online activities under the guidance of Fr Joshan Rodrigues. In addition, all the Holy Week services and now, the Sunday Eucharist is streamed from the Fathers’ chapel, which has helped parishioners remain attached to their priests, Fr Leonard Noronha and Fr Joshan. The Mass is made interactive and participative – the readings are done by a member of the family at home, and post-homily, we are given two questions for discussion before we move to the next part of the Mass. Links to the Cardinal’s Daily Mass and the evening Catechesis sessions are passed on to every family in the community.
The SCCs have also reached out materially and financially to those in need. From running errands to buying groceries and essential items, procuring gas cylinders, buying medicines, providing food and rations to poor persons and families in the neighbourhood, irrespective of religious affiliation – everything is done to help, so that no one is in want. It is a spiritual blessing that this is taking place at a time when the daily readings talk about how the early Christian community came together to pool all their resources together under the stewardship of the Apostles (Acts of the Apostles). There are also moments of joy when community members surprise a person celebrating a birthday with a beautiful home-made cake and cards. The elderly, homebound and those living alone are particularly vulnerable during this time, and SCC animators make it a point to check up on each one of them regularly.
We pray that the lockdown is over soon so that we may return to the spiritual sustenance of the Eucharist as soon as possible. But until then, we continue to be a Eucharistic community, doing the best we can, adapting and changing to the new situation, and trying to be a family, where every family member is looked after and sustained spiritually, emotionally and physically.