A mother told her adult daughter, “I’m tired of hearing about COVID-19. Everything seems to be about COVID-19.” That mother’s comment echoes across our nation and probably through much of our world. The weariness and frustration with the coronavirus pandemic that causes COVID-19 have played out in some cases in unacceptable behavior that shocks even the person guilty of it!
Chris McCormick Pries, the clinical director for Vera French Community Mental Health Center in Davenport, shared advice on protecting our mental health during the coronavirus outbreak in a column that appeared four months ago, March 26, in this newspaper. Re-reading her column (https://tinyurl.com/y3rrlvv4) could benefit many of us who need a break from the outbreak.
McCormick Pries, a member of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, also reminds us of the value of worship and prayer. Public celebration of the Mass has resumed since she wrote her column, but with safety measures intended to avoid spreading the coronavirus. However, Catholics most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 should continue to practice their faith at home.
The latest issue of “The Flame,” a publication for friends of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary, includes reflections from two members of the congregation, Sister Mary Penelope Wink and Sister Joann Kuebrich, which serve as balm for God’s weary pilgrims.
Writing from her home in Chiapas, Mexico, Sister Wink, a parish worker, member of several diocesan commissions and a psychotherapist, reflects on one of the “constants of this time” for her — “the importance of doing with, for, in … love.”
“Giving, forgiving, watching, hearing, accompanying families of (the) deceased and the gravely ill — it all changes from a conscious choice of loving. Loving the rest of creation brings my respect for each part of it up a notch,” Sister Wink said. She sees the need for “collective mourning,” to recognize we have all been touched…. “Mourn people lost above all, but also mourn moments lost, customs left behind.” She believes collective mourning will help us to move on together.
At press time, Congress was debating a new pandemic relief plan. Previous editorials have advocated for a plan that provides for the most vulnerable, especially workers and others struggling to make ends meet, to keep a roof over their heads, to have access to safety equipment at work and in public. We should continue to advocate for those most in need, first. Action alerts are available at the Iowa Catholic Conference website at iowacatholicconference.org. Such advocacy is one way to move on together.
There is a time to mourn but while the pandemic is ongoing, we need to lament. As Catholics and Christians, we are not so good at lamenting. We feel uncomfortable sitting in the pain and want to rush from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Perhaps we should set aside time to lament in our diocese or parishes, to sit in the silent suffering of Holy Saturday.
Sister Kuebrich, who lives at the Humility of Mary Center in Davenport, has been reflecting more deeply on stories of Scripture. “I consider the time of the pandemic that I spent daily doing contemplative reading, study and prayer as a time of special graces and blessing. I am aware the fruits of this daily practice caused me to rethink/change my daily prayer practices and experience a new and deeper spirituality,” she said. “This was an experience of learning to listen and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit.”
COVID-19 continues to mark our days, but if we listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, through our prayer, our participation in the liturgy (virtual or in person) and our advocacy for those who have no voice, we will overcome our weariness. Christ tells us in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor