There are now two weeks of the Coronavirus behind us, with apparently four more weeks of quarantine on the horizon.
Our first thoughts go to those who are suffering from the virus, those who have died, their families, and those who are serving the sick. Additionally, our prayers go to those suffering hardship, financial or otherwise, due to the quarantine’s lockdown. Let us pray that this pandemic may end quickly, and that we may return to a normal liturgical and social life soon. Let us pray for and seek to serve all those in need as best we can.
I want to reflect upon something beautiful that I believe Our Lord has already begun to work due to the pandemic. The hope expressed in my last post seems to be coming true: there is a renewal of family life and faith life. The evidence may still be anecdotal, but I have heard several people comment on it.
Have you been to a park lately or simply gone for a walk in your neighborhood? It is becoming commonplace to see entire families – father, mother and several children – simply going for a walk together. I have seen this with children of all ages, even the oft-elusive teenagers. This is particularly true on weekends; however, it also happens on weekdays. Similarly, another Legionary commented that while walking through the neighborhood he heard families playing and laughing with each other in their homes. They seem to be enjoying each other’s company again.
This spirit of simple joys has extended beyond the immediate family to the neighborhood. To celebrate the Red’s Opening Game Day, which was naturally cancelled, our neighbors decided to have their own Red’s parade. They decorated their cars, about six or seven of them, and proceeded to drive through the neighborhood honking and waving at the people in their homes. One woman sat in the bed of her truck with a baseball cap and bat. They maintained the necessary distances, but their spirits were jovial.
At a deeper level, there is healing occurring in families too. One woman shared the story of an estranged daughter coming home from college, and upon wishing her sisters a goodnight telling them that she loved them. Something beautiful is happening.
The neighborliness has also extended to the business world. 5/3rd Bank has already called 500,000 of its clients to simply see how they are doing in these difficult times. One executive shared that a branch manager spoke to a 98-year old woman, whose son had cancer and could not care for her; she lacked even the basics for living such as toiletries and food. The branch team put together a care package and delivered it to her house. This is only one of many touching stories the bankers have experienced. As one of our priests mentioned, this initiative is reminiscent of George Bailey in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’
People also seem to be praying more. A recent Pew survey found, that many are praying for an end to the virus, even 36% of those who describe their personal religion as ‘nothing in particular.’
Not only is there more prayer, but people are praying more openly than before. A few days ago when I was walking up and down the street while on a teleconference, one of my Evangelical neighbors stopped me in my tracks. From a few feet away, he asked me to pray with him for an end to the pandemic. We prayed right there on the spot. I never recall a neighbor inviting me to pray like that before, ever.
To fill the vacuum caused by suspended public worship, there have been countless online Masses, retreats, conferences, Bible studies and adoration. Intercessory prayer is alive and well through group texts, Facebook and the like. Believers are reaching out to each other.
Perhaps things will get tougher before improving, but those same difficulties always present us with the opportunity to draw closer to God and to one another. Salvation history attests to this grace repeatedly.
When things do return to ‘normal’ I hope and pray that the new normal pays less attention to consumerism, entertainment, and politics, but more attention to faith and family.
Something beautiful is happening.
Fr. John Bullock, LC