Some seven weeks after our nation pressed the pause button on life as we knew it, our restlessness may be tempting us to riskiness. Who doesn’t long to hug friends or relatives in person, get a haircut, dine inside a restaurant instead of carrying out, let social media babysit the kids, sneak into a loved one’s room at the nursing home? Who doesn’t long for church leaders to reopen the church buildings for public celebration of the Mass?
Our restlessness requires even greater vigilance, patience and prayer in these coming days and weeks. Read and pray over the fifth chapter of Peter’s first letter, which includes this passage: “The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little” (5:10).
Restlessness has caused folks in some states to organize protests, demanding that their elected leaders rescind stay-at-home orders and reopen their states for business. One of the protesters’ arguments tugs at our hearts. People abruptly unemployed for-who-knows-how-long are experiencing great anxiety about keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table. Another argument, having to do with Americans’ rights in a free country, require awareness-raising efforts on the need to serve the common good. The same recommendation holds true for our response to the minority of Catholics demanding their right to the Eucharist and insisting that church leaders reopen the churches, now!
The rush to normalcy is our biggest challenge as a church, Father Steve Witt said during a Facebook Live chat April 16 with Dr. Rick Larew on the topic of faith in the COVID-19 era. Father Witt advised the listening audience to trust in God and to abide by recommendations of medical personnel to ensure that the return to “normalcy” doesn’t endanger the health of the greater community.
“We need to take our isolation as a sign that the common good is at stake,” Father Witt said. “This is a time for selflessness as opposed to selfishness.” While the needs of the economy must be dealt with, care must be taken in reopening society too quickly, at the risk of many more deaths. “I don’t think that is where our God is calling us to,” Father Witt said. We must have faith and trust that God will get us through the pandemic.
But God expects us to do some of the heavy lifting, even during a time of isolation and physical distancing. We begin, always, with prayer, which leads us to learn and to act in response. Some suggestions to consider:
• On May 1, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops renewed the consecrations of the two nations to the care of the Blessed Mother. “This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the USCCB, in a letter to U.S. bishops.
Visit the USCCB website at www.usccb.org or the Diocese of Davenport website at www.davenportdiocese.org for information on prayers for this entrustment to Mary.
• Read Scripture. The daily readings are available on the USCCB’s website.
• Call a friend, relative, co-worker, fellow parishioner or acquaintance on the phone. Practice good listening skills.
• Participate in a video chat or conference for fun and not just work-related meetings.
• Share your assets. If you are able to do so, make a financial donation to your community’s foodbank, food pantry or meal site. Contribute financially to a local business, your parish and other nonprofit organizations that serve people in need.
• In his Letter on the Month of May, Pope Francis invites us to rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home. He provided two additional prayers to pray at the end of the rosary. A phrase from the second prayer reminds us of our interconnectedness. “Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.”
Yes, we have to suffer for a little while, even if it seems like an eternity. At this writing, nearly 70,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19 and more than 1 million have been infected. We suffer for a little while longer so that others may live.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor