Instead of going back, can we press forward?

This is sobering. We all know that young people are disaffiliating from organized religion. In OSV Talks, Dan Celluci takes on “What If They Don’t Come Back?” Cellucia asks whether the Covid pandemic is bringing about within two years what might otherwise have taken 10.

Celluci doesn’t get stuck in negativity, though. “What if?,” he asks. He sees tremendous opportunities lie before us. and says that we don’t want to go back to normal. Normal was a 30-year sacramental freefall! What if we don’t go back, he asks. What if we press forward?

The most important question is not “What if they don’t come back?” The most important question is, “What if God is calling me to something greater?”

Give it a watch and tell us what you think.


  1. Before moving to What if they don’t come back, I invite you to consider asking a different series of questions — how did you, how did your ministry, serve to prepare people to endure this pandemic for however long it continues — and still grow in their faith like trees planted by a river? Knowing what you know now — in the 3 Liturgical Years that preceded the pandemic — what would you have done differently in your ministry that would have better prepared the flock? Of what relevancy are the Beatitudes in the formation of wise virgins whose lamps will still be burning brightly when they go out to greet the Bridegroom?
    Lacking the answer to those questions is there any way forward?

    1. I like you question. I guess one area I would focus on the Domestic Church, setting up a home altar/prayer corner and focusing on helping develop a rule of prayer complementary to liturgical life. I am not necessarily the biggest fan of Fr. James Martin, but his book the Jesuits Guide to Almost everything is a very practical guide to prayer and very accessible to a wide range of people.

      Also “small groups” and where you meet weekly or twice for fellowship, discussion and study is probably a good idea at anytime, but might have been able to help transition to the world where zoom calls and covid bubbles are the norm.

  2. Begging your patience, may I ask clearly –
    If Vatican II had been viewed as preparing the flock for a global pandemic that would see churches locked and a death toll greater than all the world wars that preceded. A death toll and suffering perhaps even greater because it would touch all aspects of life, globally – what were the tools made available that would put oil in the wise virgins lamps so that their lamps would be burning brightly when going to greet the Bridegroom.
    In the last 3 Liturgical Years, with the advent of geography bridging technology, what “arks” could have been built when dioceses were acknowledging the need to prepare the flock for Communion Services in absence of a priest even prior to covid.
    How did these responses leave people with a day or two’s supply of oil in their lamps, closed marketplaces and slim shady oil venders.
    If shepherds view all this suffering as nothing more than a 2 to or maybe 3 year pause button and they are to be about gathering up what sheep they can still find, have we learned nothing?
    Have we learned nothing from the gift of preparation predicated on the failures of shepherds in the past who in all humility acknowledged how unprepared their flocks were when being decimated by previous violence.
    All those preparations that were mocked like guitar Masses? Would those guitars been in homes singing praise to God? Would the Liturgy of the Word have happened daily around kitchen tables? And would the Liturgy of the Hours, prolongation of the Eucharist — no matter how long the “prolongation” may be — as the centering of each day kept oil in the lamps now dimmed or even dried up.

    1. The tools have certainly existed. But we have been a legalistic, minimalist church. We legislate one hour on the weekend sometime, but when you really break it down, you get to keep a membership card for once a year. Or less if they don’t catch you. Instead of giving people tools, we gave them holes on their punch card. We counted baptisms, weddings, ordinations, and deaths. And that hour? If we ask for more, we encourage complaint.

      I think we have an embarrassment of riches. But we have a heritage of a clergy who parcel precious stones and metals out in droplets, a professional class of disciples. Maybe sisters are included when they’re not getting investigated or excommunicated. Everybody else is on pay-per-view.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly. And the analogy of giving people a punch card of the sacraments is so apt, instead a a living, breathing faith that is borne of a true pastoral and parish life, with regular “Sunday” schools, faith centered activities, and cliques in the church, etc.

        We’ve inculcated the weekly one and done mentality….Sunday morning check…..etc. not how to have a godly life…..

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