But that doesn’t mean they haven’t deeply felt the absence of the comfort and spiritual intimacy that comes of praying together. Those who attended in-person services most frequently before COVID-19 now miss that aspect of their metaphysical lives the most. All but a fraction of Catholics said not being able to receive Holy Communion is acutely felt.
Other parts of community-driven religious life have suffered too. For many congregations, volunteering and outreach are as much part of faith practice as prayer. The reality of physical distancing means most have stopped or reduced this altogether.
The effect on religious Canadians’ spiritual health depends on whether one is a chalice-half-full or chalice-half-empty type. Equal numbers say it has been positive and negative (about one-fifth each) – while most say the impact on their spirituality has been “mixed.”
Indeed, if ever there were a time for even the most faithful to question the motive or even the very existence of God, the last year would be a strong candidate. And yet, we know from previous research that most Canadians say their personal faith and religious belief is an important part of how they deal with the problems and challenges of their everyday lives. And boy, we’ve sure had plenty of those.
One can similarly parse what a year of sustained personal spirituality but crisis in the practice of public religion means for houses of worship post-pandemic. Will the faithful return in person? On this front, there is room to take comfort. All but 15 per cent of religious Canadians say they’re keen to get back to in-person practice of their faith – some so much that they rail against the restrictions authorities have placed on their ability to congregate.
This content was originally published here.