ST. PAUL, Minn. — Relaxed and visiting for more than an hour from his residence, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis fielded about 20 questions in a livestreamed chat called “Quarantine with Cozzens: Conversation for Young Adults.”
Vincenzo Randazzo, evangelization manager for the archdiocese’s Office of Marriage, Family and Life, served as moderator to the April 23 chat. He read the questions and chatted with the bishop as they explored topics presented by participants while maintaining a casual, friendly atmosphere.
Both appeared from their respective homes on a split screen, Bishop Cozzens in Hopkins and Randazzo in St. Paul.
As Bishop Cozzens sipped a beer, he addressed wide-ranging questions, offering his perspective, sprinkled with humor, often with personal stories to help people understand.
Questions ranged from what to say to someone who lost a job, to how to handle sadness following Easter when the feeling should be joyous, to advice on finding a spiritual mentor and what it feels like to celebrate Mass in an empty church. At one point, Randazzo asked him how often someone should pray.
“I was just thinking about this today,” Bishop Cozzens said. “This quarantine is long enough to form a good habit. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit. You got this.”
He advised setting aside time every day to focus on God alone and what he calls “mental prayer.” Speak to God from your heart and listen to his word.
“I think everybody should be able to do that for at least 15 minutes a day, if not a half-hour,” he said. “Certainly, prayer before a meal, a rosary at some point … read from a spiritual book, pray together with your household.”
For parents with young children, the bishop said with a laugh: “It’s survival of the fittest. I’ve seen it.”
Before the first question was presented, Randazzo asked Bishop Cozzens if the church had ever before seen something like the current pandemic. The bishop thought the closest example would be the plagues of the Middle Ages and the 16th century.
With some parallels to today, he described the work of St. Charles Borromeo in Milan, who closed churches for two years in the 1500s to prevent spread of disease and celebrated Mass in the street with people watching from their apartment windows. Bishop Cozzens expressed gratitude that we would not need to do so for that long. He also mentioned how St. Charles heroically brought sacraments to individuals who were dying.
Promoted on Facebook in an effort that drew more than 100 questions, and streamed on Facebook Live, the event also is available on the archdiocese’s Facebook page and its website. Views of the video by the next morning on Facebook reached 1,900.
Randazzo said he suggested the livestream because Bishop Cozzens is gifted at answering questions about faith with gentleness, understanding and precision.
“Doing a long-form conversation on Facebook Live is a great way to use new media to reach out to Catholics and even others … in a way that is familiar and with low commitment,” Randazzo said. “The comments we received were so positive.”