It really doesn’t matter how old you get — you still have lessons to learn in your faith life! During this coronavirus crisis, my social media skills at my job in our parish office have really been put to the test. I had been casually using all the usual sites to keep our parish members up to date on parish goings-on, and I dabbled in making some short videos in iMovie to post on our website and Facebook pages for various events such as Confirmation. But nothing had prepared me for the tidal wave that hit when churches were suddenly being closed and everyone encouraged to stay home.
We in the church office were not staying home; we were coming to work to address various needs such as keeping our food pantry stocked, bills paid, and so on. But little did I realize how much my skills as bulletin editor, computer handler, and social media updater were going to be put to the test!
Ideas started rushing into my office from my boss, the pastor, and other staff members. We need to make videos of the Stations of the Cross for both adults and kids. Our parish loved attending Stations with the school kids in the afternoons and with the adults on Friday evenings. When the bishop had to make the decision to stop all points of contact within parishes, attending Mass and Stations were out. So I made videos of the Stations of the Cross and had Father do the voice-overs. Then we decided to livestream the daily Mass, which was an instant hit despite my crude tripod-and-iPhone setup. Between all this plus constant updates on our website every time some new idea or concern was published, I was getting completely worn out feeding the social media frenzies.
Then came yesterday. We were asked by our diocese if we were going to livestream our Sunday Mass. We had not done that yet because honestly our audio/filming capabilities weren’t all that great. It worked for daily Mass, but Sunday? I was way too proud to admit I was in over my head. And that’s when the thunder hit. Someone in the parish complained that the sound just wasn’t all that great on the livestream.
I lost it. Luckily I saved most of my tired anger for when I got home, and unluckily my dear husband had to listen. But I was angry that someone who wasn’t even here and who had no idea what I was trying to accomplish dragging cords, tripods, internet connections, and phones around just to get them the Mass, not to mention all the other things I had been doing and working late to boot. Where was the thanks? Just how much do they think I can do, in fact do they even know it was ME who even thought to do this in the first place and offered to do it?
Whoops, my first clue to my downfall should have been the “me.” Me, me, me …
That night I went home incensed, I made my husband unhappy, I was in a foul mood until bedtime and then on top of all that I couldn’t sleep! I got up extra early, and with the rainy weather just setting the scene for everything, drove to work muttering the entire time.
Another co-worker had offered to help me with the audio, something I felt had been fine all along, but he thought he knew what might make it better. Of course it was help I did not appreciate at all. We began setting everything up and the device he thought was going to work didn’t, so we were back to using my iPhone but we plugged in an audio cable to go to the soundboard because that was the magic that was going to make the whole livestream all better. Yes, I was reeking of sarcasm.
By now, even though I had been angry all morning, I knew I could not be in church, much less listen to Mass while being so upset with everyone and everything. I finally began apologizing to God and praying the Rosary. I pressed “record” and Mass began. In the Gospel, Jesus was telling the man he had just cured, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more so that nothing worse may happen to you”( John 5:14) and immediately I was filled with remorse and embarrassed that I had behaved like I was the only one worn out by everything going on in the world.
I kept praying and apologizing to the Lord. By the end of the Gospel I looked up and saw we had the usual number of people watching the livestream as we’d had for the past several days. Suddenly, right before my eyes, the numbers started ticking up until it had doubled. I blinked because I was sure I wasn’t seeing right, but then thought, I guess the better audio was having an effect and people were joining the Mass. Then as we got closer to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the numbers kept climbing and suddenly they had tripled what they had been in the previous days! I could not believe it! “Lord, I am so sorry for doubting You! It wasn’t the parish member pushing me to make this video better, it was You! How could I have been so stubborn and petulant?” I continued to pray and apologize to Jesus and before the end of the Mass, those numbers had stayed at the triple mark.
Mass ended and I began to take down my wires, tripod and assorted stuff. My co-worker came out of the audio booth and sighed. “Well that audio cable didn’t work.”
I looked at him, “What do you mean? You couldn’t hear it?”
“Yeah, you could hear everything because your phone was near a speaker, but it didn’t go through the sound board like it was supposed to and be better like we were hoping.”
“But we had triple the number of people we had in previous days. How could that have happened if it wasn’t for better sound?” I stopped and looked at the crucifix and began crying. “Lord, You really know how to make me listen, don’t You? I had not wanted to do something in a different way because I was tired and thought I knew what was best. But You, o Lord, knew better.”
Yet it wasn’t even the actions that were done on our end that increased the audience, but the work of the Holy Spirit. They came without better sound; they came because He called and they listened. It was a lesson to me to know that when I am tired and thinking selfishly, I need to pray and step back and let the Lord lead instead of trying to do it my way, to be healed so nothing worse would happen to me.
“Thank you, Jesus, for helping me see.”
Copyright 2020 Lisa Simmons