Love in the Time of Covid-19

JMJ

Dear Fathers in Christ –

Some diocese are canceling public services. Some are not. No matter where you fall on the spectrum between APOCALYPSE and TOO MUCH HYPE there is something you can do to help us all: especially the folks in the places with no Masses.

Put your Mass live on Facebook. Put your Mass live on YouTube. Do the same with your daily offices and any other devotions you offer. You can do this today, now, if you have a Facebook Page for your parish and a laptop with a camera built in. Follow these steps (I’ve marked the suggestions in italics the other steps have to be done.)

  1. Set up for Mass. (If you’re in “isolation mode” you’re probably going to want at least a server/lector with you – even a brother priest. Cantoring optional.)
  2. The Laptop needs to be somewhere the camera can “see” all the action at Mass. To be honest, you don’t need the full shebang for this. Put the laptop on your clean desk, spread a corporal and you’re off. But you can do this at a full altar as long as the camera can see everything. You don’t want to be moving the camera during Mass.
  3. Open the laptop and log in to FB. You’re going to want to have the laptop plugged in because you don’t want it to die during Mass.
  4. Make sure you and the reader (if any) are able to easily get into the line of sight. You’ll be preaching & reading from the same place.
  5. Go to your parish’s page (If you don’t have a page you should really fix that…). I would suggest adding links to the readings of the day and – if you feel like it – to any hymn texts you may want everyone to use. Keep it simple though!
  6. Click on live like in the image at the top of this post. Then you’ll go to a new page.
  7. When FB asks you to approve the use of your camera and audio say yes or there will be all kinds of problems! You’ll see your camera image appear.
  1. Make sure everything looks ok.
  2. Pick where this post will appear: it should be on your Parish’s Facebook page.
  3. Say something – here’s where to put the links for your readings, today’s Mass intentions, etc.
  4. Skip everything in this box unless you know what’s going on. It should be set correctly.
  5. A title: Mass, Vespers, etc.
  6. Click this when you’re ready!

I will help you if you’re having trouble. DM me on FB, or ping me on Twitter. Leave a comment here with a way I can get back to you online first (not via phone call until we’re both on board). With 25 years of customer and tech support, I can walk you through this! I will happily be tech support for getting your Mass online in this simple way. (There are more complex ways to do this, networked cameras, blue tooth mics… I’m not able to help with those: you’ll need someone with other skills.)

YouTube works really well, too, but accounts have to be approved to do livestreaming on YouTube: if you’re not approved this may not be the right time to go through that. If you are already approved then you know all about this. Never the less, I’ll do another post about that option later. Facebook is literally click-and-go for this.

This could work for Mass, the Daily Office, in fact for any possible set of devotions. I would advise having pictures for the Stations or Rosary. Your mileage may vary.

Although this may or may not work well for your parish (you know your people) once it’s on the internet, you’re available to anyone who has access to the internet and Facebook or YouTube. People who are panicking or stressed out because of the world situation can find your Mass and be comforted.

I would love it if there were masses everywhere all day on Facebook, and if the Daily Office were being offered all over the place.

If the Daily Office is a thing: you may want to consider setting up a Zoom account. I’ll do a post about that as well. The advantage of a Zoom (instead of FB or YT) is that your Zoom can be interactive: other folks can pray along and all participants would be able to hear and interact.

Your faithful son in Christ Jesus,

Huw (Stanley Robert), OP

Kerygma My House, My House Kerygma

Not a part of the Kerygma series, but, hey community is part of the Kerygma. Come live with me and be my…

Dreaming of a house in San Francisco where several Catholics of all ages live together, being the Kingdom. Singles and married families with or without kids, different rites, different parishes. Everyone has their things to do: their own charisms, their own vocations. What we share is a community life of work and prayer that supports us in the evangelical counsels and our apostolic works.

Some of us have secular jobs, some of us work for the Church, some of us are unemployed, some are retired. While we each show apostolic zeal in our endeavors out in the world, we also share a common sense of hospitality for everything from the lost young adult at the door to the neighbors’ animals, and random strangers on the street. We host weekly gatherings for the community and sundry to enjoy our space and feast with us.

Denver Companions of Christ

As a model, I’d like you to look at the Clerical Fellowship called “Companions of Christ“. Their governing documents are written for a group of clergy, but a committed group of lay folks could build this as well. And while giant houses in SF are next to impossible to come by (with God all things are possible) the idea of living together in cells of three or four together is very doable. This quote from their FAQ expresses what could be possible in this context for us:

WHAT MAKES THE COMPANIONS OF CHRIST DIFFERENT FROM JUST A BUNCH OF PRIESTS WHO ARE FRIENDS?
The Companions have events and ways of relating that help to form a particular culture among this group of friends. Celebrating the Lord’s Day on Saturday nights, praying and eating together during the week, committing to a common vision for priestly excellence, vacationing together, and gathering to share our spiritual joys and struggles in a bi-weekly fraternal group are some of the more important ways that we help each other to follow our baptismal call to holiness and our priestly call to service. You could say that our friendship has an expressed purpose: to help each other to become saints.

I would re-write that in this way: The [Name] have events and ways of relating that help to form a particular culture among this group of friends. Celebrating the Lord’s Day on Saturday nights, praying and eating together during the week, committing to a common vision for Christian perfection, vacationing together, and gathering to share our spiritual joys and struggles in a bi-weekly fraternal group are some of the more important ways that we help each other to follow our baptismal call to holiness, the apostolic mission of laity, and our service to the church and to each other. You could say that our friendship has an expressed purpose: to help each other to become saints.

Evangelical Counsels Not Only For Monastics

The Evangelical Counsels apply to all Christians: poverty, chastity, and obedience. If we live together in community we share poverty in that we share all that we have, from each according to their ability to each according to their need. We live chastely, each according to their state in life, by the Grace of God and the support of the community. We live obedience to each other and to the Magisterium of the Church. The Evangelical Counsels help us to live our lives as Christians in but not of the world.

Is this a vision you could share? HMU.

Nukuler Family

+JMJ+
I found out recently that there is, among conservative Catholics, an idea common with conservative Orthodox folks: that a person must decide between “marriage or monasticism”. I wrestled with that a lot in the Orthodox church, because I know I’m not called to marriage. Even my dearly loved Spiritual Father, Fr V, tried to fix me up on a date… it was literally 10 years before I realized it was a date… when I got the “well you never called” comment. And I was like, “What? I was supposed to call?”

Anyway…

Then I tried a monastery. I did pick the wrong one… and that may still be my vocation… but when I heard that Catholics, too, had this idea among their more conservative folks, I had to think about it again. What if they are both right?

Thing is, this idea is not in the Church Fathers at all. This idea is not in the canons or the liturgy. There’s no sense, even, that one is “called” to marriage until well… 1950 or so. That’s when it hit me. Single people in the parish are not a violation of canons, or tradition, or even Tradition: they are a violation of Mid-Century ideas of Autonomy and Suburbia.

We have this post-war fixation on “the Nukuler Family”. This idea is far more deadly than the atomic bomb! It’s American Autonomy done up in  Sit-Com Costumes. Prior to this time, you family was not just Mom and Dad, Buddy and Sis. It was generations, and kids, and cousins, and hangers on. Your family was large enough to handle marriages and singletons. It was a lot of love for protection and support. But if Mom and Dad have to raise their kids far from the in-laws, and the kids have to grow up and move further away… as a cultural idea than, of course, single people get left out of the package.

To the Church’s credit, a monastery is a great place to find community when you don’t have it in your family. But it’s not because everyone is called to “Marriage or Monastery”. Rather, it becomes a stop-gap because we have an unhealthy idea of what “family” is supposed to be.

Yes, I realize that there are hundreds of thousands or even millions of people in my generation (and younger) that would rather chop off their right arms, and their left ones, than live in the same small town they were born in. But that’s only because we taught them not to. We taught them erroneous – even heretical – ideas of self sufficiency and autonomy. We taught them that it was a failure to stay with their parents (even if they had jobs). And we taught parents that their successful children had to move out. WTF for? If Mom and Dad are both working, and the kids too, buy a bigger house, and expand! Get more land, build more rooms, glom on to the tract house ranch in the adjoining lot(s) and take over the whole cul de sac!

We have this sick idea that when I hit 18, I’m not only not supposed to live with my parents any more, but I’m not supposed to pay them back for 18 years of support… until they are old and decrepit and need someone to take care of them. Shouldn’t they get the reward of befriending their adult children? Shouldn’t we all get a chance to care for each other now? Nearly every social service, every welfare program, every “safety net” is predicated on supporting folks in their autonomy rather than keeping them in family networks.

If I go to a monastery, shouldn’t I be able to do so knowing the rest of the family is there to take care of each other? And if I decide not to go to such a place, should I not have the joy of a house filled with loved ones and kids, and life? Until 20th Century America, the idea of running away to “strike out on your own” was just not a thing. Why did we let it take over in the Church?

What can we do to repair this? No, I don’t think you should tell all the singles in your parish (regardless of age) to move back in with their folks. But can we create communities that hold and harbor them? I don’t just mean at Pizza Night either. I mean in homes, in large networks of familial form and even content. Can we create intentional, multi-generational communities of love including married and single folks looking ever Christward in their service, prayer, and mutual support?

“Marriage or Monastery?” is not the correct question. Rather we should ask “Where is your community?” Which is your family of choice – this large, boundless, familiar tie that weaves through your life, or this boundless brotherhood (or sisterhood) that you would graft on to in the name of Christ? Either way it’s an icon of Christ in his Church. The only failed icon is the Cleavers…

Cooperative Housing Plan for the Future

  1. Get 5 or 6 more friends interesting in Co-housing. 
    1. Couples+Singles would be the excellent. 
    2. Couples and Singles that also include children would be awesome.
  2. Create a community contract stipulating plans and ALL that follows.
    1. It should be clear about obligations 
      1. including obligations for departing members such as paying off bills, etc.
    2. Everyone signs it.
    3. Get it notarized.
    4. Bring this with you when you do anything as a group: apartments, banking, joining Sam’s Club etc.
  3. Set up a joint bank account.
    1. You’ll need, probably, a credit union to do this.
      1. Cuz they will be easier on your group 
      2. Their fees won’t kill you
  4. Even though everyone is still living on their own, begin collecting money monthly from all parties: this is to set up a fund for first month’s rent, security deposit etc.  Ideally this fund will also have the second month’s rent in it (or more) before you find a place to live – each month that you have saved up is one less month of stress when you actually move in.
    1. Yes, this may take a year or more.
    2. During this time, hang out a LOT: picnics, bar nights, movie nights. 
      1. Do you all go to the same school? 
        1. Take classes together. 
      2. Do you all go to the same worshipping tradition?
        1. Can you transfer memberships, whatever, to end up together?
  5. Find a large apartment or townhouse, house or other structure to rent.
    1. Tents are probably a bad idea
  6. Move in!
    1. YAY!
    2. Now for the hard part
    3. PAY ALL BILLS ON TIME NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE – EVEN IF YOU’RE HAVING A FIGHT WITH THE SERVICE PROVIDER
  7. Track everything – any spending on food, utilities, rent, fixing things, renting movies for the house, phone bills (individual cellphone bills, yes) and anything else associated with the house.  Document it all on a spreadsheet.  Have weekly meetings to submit receipts. DO NOT FIGHT OVER THESE, YOU’RE STILL IN THE FIRST PHASE.
  8. After six months evaluate:
    1. Add cost rent (6 months)
      Cost of Utilities (6 months worth)
      Cost of food bought for the house (6 months worth)
      Cost of any individual purchase – phone bills, light bulbs, etc.
    2. Take total cost and divide by 6
      Take that 1/6 cost and divide by number of folks in the house.
    3. This is the cost of living in your house monthly per person.
    4. NB It is ok to make adjustments: the room under the stairs doesn’t need to cost as much as the penthouse, but everything else should be divided evenly.
    5. To the monthly cost per person, add $100 – this is for savings.
    6. Figure out what a basic health care plan would cost for an individual in your area, be that through Blue Cross, Healthy SF, Covered CA, etc. 
      1. Allow for folks to include this estimated cost in the monthly contribution to the community.
  9. Begin collecting the new rent+costs+$100 from each person each month
  10. PAY ALL BILLS ON TIME out of the new fund.
    1. Including individual cellphone plans.  
    2. Shop for the house from the new fund.
    3. Get a CSA and or join a food club. 
    4. Its OK to fight over these now.
    5. The goal is “From each according to their ability to each according to their need.” The month my cellphone bill taps my savings account is the month I need to eat on the house, so it’s ok. 
  11. You should, ideally, have $500-600 a month left over. 
    1. Put this in the bank account until you have two months’ rent surplus.
    2. Then begin putting monthly surplus in a savings account.
    3. Set aside the estimated health costs into a second savings account. 
      1. This is only a just-in-case fund: just in case someone is unemployed and needs to be covered.
  12. Live well and shop good. 
    1. Host public events – a weekly potluck is awesome
      1. Use these events to get the community’s name out there, to let people know that a common life of prayer is neither scary nor impossible to construct.
    2. Give one weekend a month to the community’s needs.
      1. The Garden, the doors that need painting, etc.
    3. Give 5% of time a month to an outside org and volunteer together at 
      1. The Senior Center
      2. The Animal Shelter
      3. The Parish’s After-School Program, etc.
  13. After 5 years: evaluate. 
    1. How much money do you have in savings? 
    2. Is there enough money to buy a house?
    3. No? Then come back next year.
    4. Yes? Well then, let’s see about doing that!