Today, I believe, marks the 95th day – if my count is correct – since we’ve been quarantining, self-isolating, physically distancing, and, for many, working from home.
Over the last three months our vocabulary has grown, with words and phrases like “zoom bombing” while we drink “quarantinis” as we try to “flatten the curve”.
It has been a time for brilliant creativity. I don’t have to point out the hundreds of viral videos that have been produced during this time—Inspirational or funny, it’s what people need at this time.
But the faith lessons during this time should not be lost on us. We began months ago, quickly realizing that the Church has a deep monastic and ascetic tradition that encourages “self-isolation” and how important it is for those who seek God to continually “go into the desert”.
It was not lost on us that this all started for most of us during Lent.
A month or so ago, I sat down with Sr. Damien-Marie Savino, FSP, to talk about lessons from the Encyclical Laudato Si’
that we had been forced to learn during this COVID time. Today I’d like to share with you some timeless Catholic Faith lessons that we have been re-learning during this COVID Spring.
As much as it is not a coincidence that this began for most of us during the season of Lent (more about that in the weeks to come), I think it is less of a coincidence that it also lasted during the Easter Season, which is spring in the northern hemisphere. It’s not an accident that Easter takes place during spring.
Among the many articles and opinion pieces I’ve read during this time, I found one that referred to this season as the “COVID Spring”. I love that! I never liked referring to this time as the "time of pandemic” or “crisis”, or the time of “the coronavirus” or simply “COVID”. We could have called it the “COVID Lent” or the “COVID Desert” but I think that “COVID Spring” captures the experience in a much more accurate way!
This has been a time for planting and for sowing. It has been a time for watering and nurturing. It has been a time for new life and rebirth. Yes, it’s been difficult for many, many people. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for those who’ve lost their jobs or who’ve had to close their businesses. I pray every day for families who, despite suffering forms of domestic abuse, are forced to quarantine together. I try so much every day not to forget about people in other countries, poor countries, and about refugees and victims of war or internal displacement. For them, whose life is in perpetual crisis, this may not have changed much or, it has increased their anxiety and stress. Their lives never feel like a Spring.
And I can’t imagine what it has been like for those who’ve lost family members and loved ones to this disease. My prayers go out to them every day.
Yet the Catholic Church teaches that death does not have the final word. Our Faith teaches that death, divorce, disease, depression, and disasters are not the end of the story. Our faith teaches that suffering is redemptive. This is probably one of the hardest mysteries of our Faith to understand. Yet we all understand love. Love is what makes suffering, that may otherwise seem meaningless, become redemptive.
It's not easy to believe when you are in the midst of the storm.
Still, we are guaranteed that there will be storms in life – Jesus may seem like he’s asleep during the storm – but we know He is very much in control (Matthew 8:23-27).
We also know the truth behind the clichés: It has to be raining for you to see the rainbow
; it’s during the darkest night when you can best see the stars
; you have to climb through the thorns in order to get to the rose
…. So many clichés about life through death. Yet they are clichés because they are true.
In order to get to spring we have to go through winter. Spring depends on winter.
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)
And that is why I hope that we all begin to refer to this time of crisis as the COVID SPRING.
Next Sunday, the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (and also Father’s Day), we will hear from the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29)
I’ve been amazed at how every single Sunday the readings can be applied to this COVID Spring experience. Whether it’s Jesus telling the disciples to “not be afraid” on the day of the Resurrection, to giving them his “peace” and telling them to “not let your hearts be troubled” – each Sunday has given us much food to nourish our hope.
And that makes sense because Christianity is a religion of hope. We hope for everlasting life; we hope for the Resurrection; we hope for peace; we hope for wisdom, for growth, and for life. Ultimately, we know that Jesus Christ is our hope. The Christian can’t but proclaim hope.
Yet in times like these, it is so easy to fall into despair. Despair is the work of the enemy. We must always respond to every crisis with hope – even if we don’t feel it. I think we've seen that from so many during this COVID Spring.
Hope is not wishful thinking: “I hope it doesn’t rain this afternoon.” Hope is the certainty that God will act according to His promise. It is that certainty that moves us forward. And it is that
certainty that moves the winter forward into spring.
We have hope because we know that God is God and He is in control: all the hairs of your head are counted.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
Let’s remember these two small lessons, spring and hope. Let’s pray that when this is all over – and it may be a while before we return to normal – we don’t go back to what we were like before. Let’s begin looking at everything in life with eyes of hope so that even in the coldest and darkest of winter, it will look like Spring.
Write to me
to tell me what lessons you have been learning during this time, and come back next week
for a few more faith lessons about Lent, the desert, listening, trust, and God’s ways, that we are learning during this COVID Spring.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]