If you managed to look at the blog and the little talks/homilies, then you may have come across one called the ‘New Normal’. If you did then you’ll know that I’m not too keen on the phrase (hence the ‘Grrrrr’ in the title).
I believe that this is not a ‘new normal’ but rather that what we have been living through for the past 60 or 70 years has been profoundly un-normal. From the 1950s onwards we started to believe that science and technology and society would be able to sort everything out. We would only ever go forward. Things could and would only get better. Even when new diseases came (AIDS in the 80s) we found a way to live with it. We became richer. Life became easier. We had more gadgets. We had access to everything at our fingertips. Early on, we threw off the old ways ‘that was what we used to do, we are new and different now - things have moved on, things are better’. This involved liberation, free to do what you like, and with whoever you like. And there were no consequences.
What a lovely world. I’d like to live there. I’d love to live there. Who wouldn’t? But of course it wasn’t real. We don’t all get richer. We can’t do anything we want. There are consequences. And science and technology is not going to get us to live forever in a paradise on earth. That was our ‘normal’. That is what the world told us was true. When our faith told its ancient story of sin and redemption, of turning from self to become like Christ, of obedience, of eyes fixed on heaven and not on the passing baubles of this world… well we know what happened, don’t we? Our Churches emptied, our Priests ran off, our convents closed, people did not know the faith, and if they knew it, then they did not accept it. “I’ll have a slice of religion please, but that one over there. The one with all the topping on that I like. Not the other bit, you can keep that.” We fooled ourselves that we were in charge, both in the world, in society and in the Church. Guess what… we’re not.
A virus comes. The world stops. Our eyes are opened. We are mortal. Stuff happens. We won’t live forever. We can’t eat money. If no one phones you, then no one phones you. Science has not solved this one, and if it does, guess what, there’s another one just round the corner. Actions have consequences. The ‘freedoms’ we prized have led to death, rioting, the destruction of the our places of worship and our statues. To the slaughter of life in the womb, and life in the care home. To the devaluing of what it means to be a human being so much that I can decide that I will be anything or anyone I want, and if you don’t like it I’ll have you sacked and hated and threatened.
This was the result of the “Old Normal” of the past 60 years. The ‘New’ one reaches back past all this nonsense to what we know is true. The eternal consequences of action: the humility of knowing that our true identity is in the eyes of God and the love of family and friends; the joy of scientific advancement, but responsible and serving us rather than driving us. Our eyes must be raised to Heaven. We stopped looking for a bit, and this virus has given us the opportunity of getting things in perspective again. Eyes up, my dear people, eyes up to God!
I might have a go at the New Normal of Mass next week. Guess what… it’s the same argument.