There is so much heaviness in the world. It feels like the weight of the world on my shoulders. Of course, listening to the media does not help matters. It only illuminates frustration regarding Black Lives Matter and—the violence. I couldn’t take my eyes off the violence—acts of looting, burning and destroying of our prominent cities. The most gruesome act was the police officer; his face will forever be etched in my mind as he systematically blocked the air from George Floyd’s lungs. What happened and is happening is all wrapped up in the gruesomeness of our times.
I do not condone the violence, which from the reports is, resultant of American extremist groups. I do not condone the restructuring of our society to appease the groups who are trying to violently destroy it and shape it according to their errant views. We must work together as a society with those who are peacefully promoting change.
The coronavirus came and changed our lives, but nothing could have prepared us for the civil unrest we’ve been experiencing. I have always valued people on their merits, not their skin color. The values and morals that people hold are the fabric that unites this great country. But like all systems, sometimes they break down or fail to run efficiently; there is always room for improvement.
I am one that likes to dwell on things and the stress has taken a toll on me. Sometimes I wallow in despair. I view live-streamed Mass regularly. A friend messaged me her parish’s Mass and the priest’s recommendation was to get away from the news and all of our devices that project them for a week in order to gain some peace. I gave it a try.
The first couple of days were hard and I was fearful—not so much from giving up the devices and what I might be missing—but from letting the previous weeks compounded fear have an effect on me. When you view the violence it does create a fearfulness. I suppose you could just ignore it but that feels like I wouldn’t be informing myself completely as to the time we are currently living in.
Praying the rosary and other prayers has given me comfort. As one that likes to be in control, I pray for the things that I can control and the things that are beyond my control. That is the only way I can remain sane. I do gain a sense of peace knowing that God is the one who is ultimately in control and is guiding this ship we call the United States of America and the world.
Even though time seems like it is moving slowly it also feels like the world is changing rapidly. With many people staying home or working from home, the focus has been on our screens. We are using our screens for work, entertainment, social communication, news, shopping, health related apps, school lessons, etc. In some cases usage has gone up by as much as 200 percent.
Sometimes I feel like I live through my screen more than I do real life.
There has been a question circulating on Facebook about who really is your friend on social media. If you take an honest look, how many people do you socialize with on a daily, weekly or monthly basis in person with face-to-face encounters or with a phone call? Probably not very many. If you are working outside of the home (that expression sounds kind of funny), most likely you socialize with or are friends with your co-workers.
Does social media replace a cup of coffee shared with a friend at a café? I think not, but we are probably going to have to adjust.
I think society is desperate for meaningful friendships. Facebook makes it easier to connect with many people in different social circles and distant localities and our world is smaller because of it. Video chatting on mobile devices is also popular and on the new Rooms feature on Facebook Messenger you can arrange a Zoom-like call with your peeps. Zoom is used for business and classrooms and also for happy hour virtual gatherings or calls with family and friends. We have many options at our fingertips. Frankly, I am getting rather tired of screens, but they have become the norm in today’s society.
With the state of quarantining at home and socially distancing, I feel like we are being led to believe, through social and media channels, that video sharing applications will be the elixir that we need to combat loneliness. Even before the pandemic, there have been studies maintaining that more than two hours a day on social media by teens makes teens more lonely—not less lonely.
Friends vs. Acquaintances
Maybe we think the nearest screen is the answer to our yearning for human contact, but in fact, the human contact that we crave is being replaced by electronic stimuli and “pseudo” friendships. Our social connections are, more often than not, acquaintances that might not necessarily be the nurturing relationships we need. It takes time and effort to find a friend that provides the depth of friendship needed to deal with the intricacies of the human heart and with whom we can share our deepest authentic selves.
Perhaps I am being a little hard on the Facebook crowd, of which I am a part of, but I think it might be in one’s best interest to not look to the 500 or 1000 friends ( I have just over 100) on Facebook as a badge of honor—at least in terms of authentic friendship in the traditional sense. Consider yourself fortunate if you have two very close friends who you interact with in your day-to-day encounters.
More likely than not, the number of “friends” on social media are a social network, a way of staying connected in our different social circles or relying on a connection for a lead to employment or in the case of Zoom meetings, connecting with your class or classroom teacher or your work staff. I think that answers the Facebook question that is circulating. I’m betting most people are aware of the nature of social media. Still, it can sort of be like a competition to gain more and more connections.
Many people receive their news content from social media channels. My adult children have all but given up social media because it siphons precious time. I miss that they are not on Facebook so that we can share in photos of each other or ideas about certain things but I understand their need to manage time.
You’ve Got a Friend
I would say I am a lot like my mom in the department of making friends, where I can strike up a conversation with someone at the farmer’s market and feel a sense of kinship. By the way, my mother has made many “friends” because, most times, anyone that she talks to at church or the grocery store “becomes her friend.” I believe every moment (even on social media) is an opportunity to make a friend—at least for the moment, because—face it—it’s work to maintain a friendship. Thankfully, there are many ways to be a friend to someone.
Maybe it’s just me. I have used my Facetime feature on my phone to video chat with my family before and have been thankful for that feature. However, I do not use it all that much. Am I old-fashioned? Do I really need to see the person I am talking to? If I have not seen the person for a long time, I do like to see them but I don’t make it a rule to visually see them as we converse.
What I have noticed is even though I am on my screen more, I don’t really want to be. In writing content for my blog and social media posts, I also do create video postings. I feel OK with that but I think the new video chat room feature for communicating, at least for personal use, is something we will need to get used to, as the economy’s landscape, even if it opens soon, will be a stark cry from what it used to be.
Since we are spending more time looking at our computer, phone, or tablet screens our eyes can become really strained. Using the 20-20-20 rule can help to prevent this problem.
Every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Now, this doesn’t mean to look up from your computer screen to look at your TV screen when your home on your couch with your computer screen in your lap.
I will take it one step further and add that you should actually get up from where you are sitting for a small break while looking at something that is not screen-related. If that is not possible than the 20-20-20 rule should help with reducing eye strain and muscle tension. And even better than that, if you can, take a break from screens for a day or two.
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I am so tired! I have felt especially tired in the past few days. I am not currently working outside the home and I can set my own schedule. I can rise from bed when I want and go to bed late if I want. I usually watch a live-streamed morning Mass and then go about my day.
I have been following the proposed guidelines of social-distancing and mask-wearing and my outings are fairly scarce except to go for walks or an occasional bike ride. My “big” outings are going to the grocery store. I keep up with the news of the day and I work on my blog and other endeavors. I would say that my screen time has definitely increased since quarantine. Lately, my brain feels like mush! It’s not that I am not keeping my brain active–it’s probably been a little too active. Or, we just may feel like not doing anything.
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks of Apostle Paul’s time in a Philippian prison. I would say that we may feel like being in prison ourselves, whether it be in our homes or at work. We aren’t aloud to travel much, eat out at restaurants or go to the gym. We aren’t allowed to attend Mass or get our hair cut or send our children to school. Granted some of these outings were tasks that we needed to take care of but many were just activities that filled our daily lives and gave it meaning. The reality is that our world has changed and we may have not caught up to the fact as to how much. With this type of lifestyle, depression and/or acedia can set in.
Perhaps we are in a prison of “our own making.” During this pandemic, we are focusing on what we allow into our brains and into our lives. We have been able to do a lot of thinking! Sometimes our thoughts might turn in on ourselves. It is good to set sort of schedule along with frequent breaks. If your brain is just not working one day, it is OK to give yourself a break. There has been a lot to process.
Just yesterday, after watching the news, with parts of the country beginning to open and the number COVID-19 deaths declining, with some restaurants beginning to open and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome celebrating their first public Mass, I felt a wave of what I thought was relief. I became emotional and started to cry. The Mass readings from the past few days have focused on the Acts of the Apostles and I got to visit some of the places that are referenced on a pilgrimage I took with some members of my parish a few years back. I was surprised by this reaction. I think I felt this relief with some trepidation because it is not over yet, nor do we really know if it will ever be “over”. Even if we do end up with a vaccine, we won’t be able to “go back.” The only way we can go is forward.
My guess is that we will probably look back at this time as a blessing and may even long for it again depending on our circumstances. I wish you health, happiness dear friends.
I don’t know about you but I am starting to get used to quarantining. I rarely go out except to the grocery store or to an essential doctor’s appointment. I wear a mask out in public. When I am walking or exercising I don’t wear a mask but I stay the prescribed six feet away from passers-by when walking outside or down the grocery aisle.
My social activity, pre-COVID-19, mainly revolved around working as a temp for the school district, attending Mass on Sunday’s and maybe going out for dinner occasionally with my husband and our friends. I miss going to Mass and seeing my friends and church family but I have been very thankful for daily Mass which is live-streamed. My sleep schedule is fairly regular but since I am not working I’ve been a little lazy and will sometimes view Mass in bed (don’t tell anyone). I know that is not the prescribed method but I have a love relationship with my phone and it is very easy to use as a device for viewing–especially after having not slept well in the night. I also cast the streaming on my TV especially for Triduum and Easter and Sunday Mass. As catholics, we have our pick as to which Mass we will watch but I have been sticking with my local parish and diocese.
At first when the self quarantining started, I complained a lot to my husband about being bound at home but he reminded me that this is just a mere inconvenience and that previous generations had it much worse. There were wars and labor camps and other plagues and the Great Depression. Now we sit on our bottoms whether we are getting our news intake by phone, TV or computer and are riveted to the latest news on the coronavirus and resultant shelter-in-place instructions. If lucky enough, one can work from home by computer and still receive a paycheck. Many are not that lucky.
My days are filled because I am working on my blogs and also intermittently looking for a job. Part of me wonders whether someone else may need the job more than me in this COVID-19 environment. Frankly, I am sick of looking for a job even when it wasn’t in this environment, probably because I don’t want just any job. It is totally so much work applying as you have to create an account for just about every place you apply. Once the economy kicks into gear I will strike while the iron is hot.
Bored in the House-In the House I’m Bored
You may have happened upon a TikTok app dance with the title “Bored in the House-In the House I’m Bored” and you may have gotten a chuckle out of it. I didn’t event know what TikTok was until last fall. I can sympathize with the dancers on the app. I don’t go to the app much but I like to keep up with the world. Even though there are no outside activities except for exercising outdoors or doing gardening since the weather is getting nicer, the day is filled and kind of has a pattern to it—except some mornings are later than others. I also try to keep the weekend normal doing the things I normally would do on the weekend, lingering a little longer drinking my morning cup of coffee while conversing with my husband and also with my son who is home from college finishing up the year. Weekends are a bit more relaxed and care-free.
The world collectively started this sheltering process in denial, then shock and now I think we are onto the anger stage as we are grieving and mourning our former way-of-life. Now, since it has been over a month with this set-up and the entire world is experiencing the same thing or had recently experienced this, there are many questions on the table that will need answering. How is the world going to get through this? All of this—the sickness and death, the economy with the loss of jobs and those in hunger. How will this affect the church?
There is always discussion about when our world will get back to normal but now the language is changing to how will we live the “new normal.” Wait a minute we did not ask for this. Our lives were going just fine and then this! It almost feels like God pressed one, giant reset button for the entire globe. Many of us are home in quarantine with the only taste of the outside world being short jaunts to the store and through screens, phone calls and walks outside. Where do we find our purpose?
What if after all this time, we develop something akin to the Stockholm syndrome and decide we don’t want to go back out again. We’re nice and comfy in our sweat pants, graying hair roots and wearing no make-up and viewing all sorts of entertainment related to quarantining on our social media. We’ve done it for this long, we can do it longer, thank you very much!
Brave New World
Will we really encounter a brave new world where computers and zoom meetings will take over the world? I can’t imagine that we could ever get rid of the human touch, the face-to-face meetings and gatherings that punctuate our lives and that give it meaning. If anything, I think we will come away from this experience a little more thankful for what we have and how important it is to be with the one’s we love and care about. It will make us realize what is truly important and essential. God has his way of getting our attention!
For me, it was God saying, “You know, you’ve been working on this blog for some time now and I really want you to step up your game. Here’s this world pandemic to help you do just that.” It’s true, I have been able to dedicate great chunks of time to working on my blog versus smaller increments where I might not do it as consistently and then forget how to accomplish some of the tasks since I am doing it all on my own with some on-line chat guidance.
There’s a New Shop in Town
I’ve also been making some simple jewelry in the hopes that we all can someday return to Mass and the Sacraments. Check out my new shop. I felt a prompting to make this jewelry and once again God gave me the time to do it. If you run into any kinks for purchasing, please contact me at the email below.
I believe we will see each other again and we will grow from this. Yes, the world and our lives might not ever be the same again—especially in the immediate future—but we know that we have the capacity to make it even better than before. All we have to do is press the reset button.
16″ Crucifix with Crystal Heart Necklace
Silver-plated crucifix with Swarovski crystal heart pendant. Beautiful, 16-inch sterling silver chain with lobster claw clasp. Organza gift pouch in white or royal blue included plus free shipping. $21
Why do we get attached to the clothes we wear? I want to preface this blog to say that I originally started writing the draft last September so some of the ideas might not apply right now but I wanted to leave it pretty much as is, as sort of a time capsule. I realize that the title now has a different meaning as well.
Last September – Pre-COVID-19
I decided to go through my closet today and bagged up a lot of clothing to donate. I ended up with quite a few bags as I have not really purged in quite a while. I have eliminated here and there but this was different. There are certain clothes that I have hung onto because it reminds me of a certain time or event or trip in my life. I decided to let those (most of them) go today. Many of them do not fit well anymore. I did take pictures of them just so I could remember them if I want to. Even though I go through this process from time-to-time, some of the items still end up back in my closet.
I question why I develop certain attachments to things. I have costume jewelry that my mother-in-law purchased for me when we were shopping together that I really don’t wear often but it reminds me of her as she is deceased now. Even if I don’t wear it that much, I want to keep it to remind me of our time together.
Clothing is one thing, among other things, that I attach meaning to. I wore some things during the times when my kids were small (and I was, too) or I wore another piece on a trip I took or perhaps there were special occasions attached to other pieces of clothing. Even though I may not be able to wear some of them anymore, I can still think about the times I wore them. If I decide to give that top or pants away, taking a picture of it is a good way to remember it as well as trying it on one last time.
Time to Let Some of Them Go
There are clothes that I really loved wearing but now some are stretched out or damaged so it is OK to let them go. And of course there are always new clothes and styles to buy. Generally, more often than not, new clothing purchases begin to grace the closet come while older clothes are worn less and less. I think this time I want to create space for clothes that I know I am eventually going to buy. I know that I place a lot of emphasis on clothing but clothing that I love and feel good wearing makes me feel good. The problem I have lately is that my body is changing as I get older and I can’t just pick up anything off the rack and have it look good on me.
The recent trend of a less-is-more capsule wardrobe which consists of about 37 pieces of clothing is kind of intriguing but I am not quite there yet. I don’t think I want to be that extreme but I do want to love every piece of clothing that is in my closet. Some clothes, usually the one’s purchased from Nordstrom have graced my closet space for up to 15 years. There are a few pair of pants from Nordstrom that have withstood the test of time and that I can still frequently wear after 15 years!!! They are not completely in style but they are stylish enough.
Now – Post-COVID-19
Clothing is probably the last thing I worry about when quarantining. I am not working, I don’t go out and I don’t feel like dressing up much. Comfort is king. I miss wearing my clothes!!! I know I can wear them at home and I may just have to start doing that.
I ask myself: What is the purpose of particular types of clothing? In the business world and the world in general, we dress to present ourselves in the best light. Why don’t we do that in the confines of our own home? Why is it so important to look good in public? I liked to update my wardrobe periodically to keep up with fashion. Most of the clothing that I buy is usually timeless pieces that can last until they wear out. Sometimes I buy cheaper items that are only meant to last for a few seasons.
The Psychology of Clothing
I have been wrestling with this attachment to clothing. In a practical sense, clothing is meant to keep us warm and dry but has developed into the way we see ourselves–the way we portray ourselves to society or the way we would like to be portrayed. Clothing as a social marker can often indicate social status or a certain personality type. The evolutionary aspect deals with clothing as a way to influence a mate.
We have different clothes for different activities. When at the office, we dress in business attire, at a party something more dressy. The weekend usually leaves us in work-out gear or comfortable clothing. I suppose the quarantine just feels like one long, long weekend.
Since the quarantine, I have not gone through my clothes because I am hopeful to live “that life” again that allows me to dress for the way I am going to conquer the world that day. In the meantime, any clothes that might make it to a give-away bag are just sitting in the corner until the resale shops open again.
The new way of living encompasses safety and comfort.
You might as well enjoy it. Quarantine living is relaxed living.
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Facebook has a new device called Portal to make life easier connecting with family and friends. It will make connecting with loved ones a snap as it does not require an app. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection.
“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
I like to sit and contemplate this mosaic depicting the Last Supper, especially on Holy Thursday. Each little piece is a part of the whole picture. As catholics, each of us are members of the Body of Christ—and of the whole world.
Holy Week culminates in the Paschal Triduum (pronounced ˈtɹɪ.dju.əm), the three days (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) commemorating the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many Christians prepare for this event with 40 days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
In this festival, Christ’s saving work is commemorated by the Church with the utmost solemnity. Through the liturgy of the Triduum, the Church is intimately united with Christ and shares in his passage from death to life. The Triduum begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and concludes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. (Roman Missal)
“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (Corinthians 12:12-13, New American Bible). ” If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (Corinthians 12:26, New American Bible).
Today, the Triduum begins. This year, even though we are not together physically, the mystery is still present and the anticipation is still pronounced. Christ’s life, death and resurrection will take place! Mass is still celebrated! Let us partake in The Meal spiritually, on this most holy of nights.
O God, in the fullness of time you revealed your love in Jesus the Lord. On the eve of his death, as a sign of your covenant, he washed the feet of his disciples and gave himself as food and drink. Give us life at this sacred banquet and joy in humble service. (Roman Liturgy)
In the past few weeks, even though we are all suffering our own crosses (some crosses more evident than others), I have noticed a kindness in people. When taking walks, many people walking by or driving by wave in a friendly manner. I take this gesture as a form of solidarity. Tonight, Christians around the world will hold a heavenly banquet in their hearts in whatever form that is available to them as a form of solidarity.
Blessings dear friends,
Let’s stay in contact—my blog posts emailed directly to you. How easy is that!
I know a lot of people are focusing on upbeat and positive things right now to get through this ordeal. I think it’s great to do whatever it takes to keep our sanity. Although, sometimes I think we need to come to some sort of acceptance as to the reality of our changed way of life. Perhaps we are all still numb.
During Lent, we walk the way of the Cross and meditate on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, we examine the crosses in our own lives and lift them up to the Lord. He has walked the same path that we are on.
The path of crosses, which we happen to walk all our lives whether we are aware of it or not, has really hit home. Illness, death, massive joblessness among many other societal ills beset our restful sleep at night and haunt our dreams. What kind of future world will our children live in? Where will Coronavirus leave us? I do believe we will make it through this somehow. The human race is resilient. What other choice do we have? The world will be different but also renewed at the same time. God is on our side.
The pilgrimage site that I visited with my mom and sister and my mom’s cousin in the fall of 2017 was a monument to crosses that we face in our lives. It truly is a sight to behold and it was impossible to view them all. There were a multitude of crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, statues, pictures and effigies. The site was dripping with crosses. It was interesting to think that behind each cross is a story. We brought our own crucifixes with our names on them to represent the family name and any life struggles that we had come to bear. I also looked for a crucifix that I had placed on an earlier trip to the site. It had only been two years and I finally found it but it was practically covered up by newly placed crosses.
In 2017 I traveled to the pilgrimage site with my mom and sister to the Hill of Crosses outside of Siauliai, Lithuania.
I think that writing during this time has given me solace. I’ve been writing for a number of years. As a youth, I had a raspberry-colored, shiny, plastic diary with white pages and a gold-colored lock and key. It is not in my possession now because over the years it became misplaced. I would like go back in time and read it, though.
There is artistry in both the written word and photography. I’ve been a life-long writer and photographer and interested in visual messages. As a writer, one must be some sort of a visual artist but I tend to use photos to convey messages that words cannot. I suppose that is why my college degree is in Advertising.
As a child, I would keep a notebook of fashion magazine pages that I cut out of magazines–striking photos of models posed in the latest seasonal fashion. I would pour over these for hours. I miss fashion, as it is not as prevalent these days and probably not something I should be preoccupied with.
Summers were filled with letters to pen pals. Then came term papers in college. In the work world, I wrote short articles for a military newspaper and radio copy for the military news station. Later on, I kept a journal to record thoughts on paper, write poetry, rant and rave, and keep record of my children’s milestones.
Now, with technology, I get to share my thoughts with anyone who wants to read them.
Maybe this downturn is something I need to kickstart my writing. This period of time will be our cross to bear. It will be a heavy cross, but Jesus has already carried it and, for a time, was securely placed on it. We only need to look up at it. Our stories are written all over it.
If you are like me, you’ve probably gone through every emotion right about now, trying to wrap your head around COVID-19. Some of our responses are how the virus has affected our lives and others are a response to the people we care for and who help us go about our day to day lives.
First, it started with just believing this was just like any other flu. Then a couple of weeks ago we were asked to begin distancing ourselves from everyone. Now, with many ill and dying, we are asked to refrain from our normal way of life with practically no outings except to the grocery store or perhaps a doctor’s appointment. Many people are still working and those on the front line in hospitals and serving the community are heroes and saints.
At the beginning, since my work as a temp for the school district went south with the school closures, and social distancing started, it almost felt like a guilty pleasure, to be able to stay home and hang out or work on projects or blog. No commitments, nowhere to be, tasks completed with ease, almost like a stay-at-home vacation. The reality of life has a way of catching up when opening the mailbox to retrieve the latest bills.
The only window to the outside world has been television news, Facebook and Twitter and very infrequent trips to the grocery store. Of course, frequent calls to family and friends are a boon to having some semblance of normalcy in or lives even if we know in the back of our minds that we won’t be able to ignore the fact that we might need to remain physically distant.
Public gatherings, including church services and Mass are all going on-line and what I am finding is there seems to be an influx of churches and businesses getting into the social media “business.” Perhaps it’s becoming the “new normal,” at least temporarily. I am in a Lenten frame of mind, so I suppose less is more right now for me and I am tending to view a smattering of what is offered online.
I have all of these ideas for projects or blog posts but it almost feels like I am out of my element as worry and stress places a toll on energy. Since my husband and I are empty-nesters, we used to eat out occasionally, but now with dining in, we have been taking turns cooking so it doesn’t become so monotonous. I fear for the retailers and restaurant owners.
I haven’t mentioned anger, probably because I haven’t experienced that emotion yet. When you are grieving, you run the whole gamut of emotions over time. I think, as Americans, and I am sure all those around the world, are still trying to gain an acceptance of this silent killer because we are still in shock and grieving our former way of life, at least for the time being. We do and will have to grieve this as many things will be missed or altered-graduations, weddings, birthdays, sporting events, church services, classes on college campuses, dining out. In the end, perhaps we will gain a new appreciation for what it means to be an American with our many luxuries and freedoms as this is the greatest country in the world.
Some things you can do to cope with COVID.
Talk to those in your immediate family or call a distant family member or a friend. There are also numbers you can call in your community.
Remember to give your immediate family members space and ask for space if you need it.
Try to stay in touch with the outside community, be it your church or other organizations through email or phone, Skype or Zoom.
Take frequent walks in the neighborhood or local park if there aren’t too many people there. Many of the national and state parks are closed.
Listen to music, dance, jump rope, get out of bed and get dressed.
Try to watch the news just briefly and limit time with electronic devices, unless, of course, it is your job to be on the computer.
Do something for someone else, whether you mail a package of cookies to family members or donate on-line or volunteer (with precautions) which leads to a sense of purpose.
Hold those you love in prayer or intentional thought. Have you ever received a phone call from someone you recently had intentionally been praying for or thinking about?
COVID-19. It took a week or so to really set in as to what life would look like while we isolate and practice social distancing which includes no celebration of Mass at church! Social media is flooded with virtual Mass and I have limited myself to a my church and my archdiocese.
Early during the U.S. breakout, I was able to go to pray during an approved time for gathering while social distancing at my church on a Friday during Lent. There were just a hand-full of people present. The area where I sat was sanitized afterward.
Right after the outbreak, our main baptismal font and fonts located by the door were emptied. I really miss blessing myself with holy water. Liturgically, the font is emptied or covered during Holy Week but this development was used as a protective measure.
As I was walking into the church that day, I thought back to how many times I have entered my church and the church where I grew up. I thought about the different reasons that I entered the church. How, through my life, the church was an essential part of my life, from attending Mass, to receiving the Sacraments like Holy Matrimony, Eucharist and Reconciliation. From bringing my children to faith formation and volunteering, retreats and pancake breakfasts. The list goes on. Each time upon entering and exiting, I blessed myself with holy water.
I was thinking, even though I was walking into a physical building–the church, the building itself was not the church. Yes, Jesus is present in the tabernacle at all times except for when in repose on Holy Thursday, and he is present whether we are there by ourselves or with other congregants, but how could we carry on with worshiping as a church without each other? We are there as witnesses to Jesus’ love for us as by listening to his Word and being present for Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the altar.
That is why this time is so hard, because it is this relationship with Jesus and with others which “animates” church for us. Humans are made for each other. Why do you think sporting events are so popular?
One of my favorite times to be in the church building is when there is no one or very few people there. I don’t know why that is. It is super quiet and you can actually hear the occasional creaking of the massive wooden ceiling beams. I don’t feel lonely then, because Jesus is present there. Sometimes I pray or say the rosary but most times I just sit in the quiet and “be.”
As the effects of the virus continues onward and the desire to begin reopening establishments by Easter, we need to accept that it may not be possible. Easter, on April 12th this year, cannot be postponed because it is not on the same date every year. Easter is based on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox. If it comes to pass that we are not able to attend church on Easter, we will get by and celebrate in spirit with a live-streamed Mass of our choice, preferably with our own parish. Even though many candidates and elect are welcomed into the church on Easter Vigil, I imagine (not completely sure) that they could get permission to be admitted during a different time.
We will relish the day when we can walk into the church building, bless ourselves with holy water and celebrate the test that was given to us. Maybe we came up with a different way of living that we plan to adopt. Maybe we lost a loved one to the virus or other causes and need the healing presence of God and our church community. For it is in community that we fully worship and come to know ourselves.
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Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds. Jeremiah 17: 5-10
Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night. He is like a tree planted near running water, That yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does, prospers. Not so, the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.
The miracle of water
I will have to admit, there was a time when I would read scripture morning, noon, and night. The supposedly better and sought-after life of busyness has set in so reading scripture or daily Mass attendance has been less frequent for me. When I do partake, Jesus’ words console me or at times offer rebuke. Even when I am going through these “dry spells,” I am always somehow drawn unexpectedly, to read the scripture of the day where the psalm above is present. Psalm 1 is one of my favorite psalms and it corresponds with the First Reading of today from Jeremiah. It was what I needed to hear in this COVID-19-ridden world today.
I decide to read scripture, especially during the special Church seasons and the Sunday liturgy contains scripture readings. When I do, and when I see this particular scripture, it always surprises me, just like when I walk out a door and suddenly am taken by surprise with the rising of a beautiful, full moon on a crisp, clear evening. The full moon and this scripture always have the same affect on me.
As a people and a country we are being challenged right now but when I go out in public, it still feels pretty much the same, except for the hauntingly empty store shelves where the toilet paper once occupied space. Now, as a Catholic in the northwest, we are being challenged, due to possible exposure to the coronavirus, by not being able to celebrate Mass in which we partake in the Eucharistic meal, unheard of in my lifetime. We must not be downtrodden or devoid of joy because of being shaken out of our way-of-life routine for the Lord is still with us. He is with us in scripture and in prayer. He is with us in the people we meet and care for or socialize with. He is with us in our thoughts and in our memories.
As Americans, I think we like to be in control and when we can’t control a situation we look for someone to blame. I know that I have done that. I am sure you have heard, when one finger is pointing outward, there are three pointing back at you.
Life will definitely change whether it be for the short term or longer. We can take this time, during imposed self-isolation and social distancing, especially during Lent, to determine what is most important in our lives. This will not be an easy task because most of us are so busy we do not have time to confront the mountain of ourselves. Believe me, there are many peaks and valleys when we pull away from “busyness” and sit in quiet to think. Not meditate, but to think or perhaps pray or even “dialogue” with God. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do.
I had a chance today, in this early spring light to clear the accumulated winter dust and cobwebs. I decided to clean the glass items with water and when I did, I was thinking about how easy it was to clean the glass with water. The dust washed off so easily and the glass was all clean and shiny. I thought about washing hands, clearing the germs from them and I was thankful for water! What would we do without water to clean the annoying, life-altering, virus germs. As Catholics, we must take this time to stretch out our roots to the running water so that our leaves never fade.