Dear Parish Family,
There are no words for the shock we feel at the way our lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. It’s devastating to our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts, our future plans, our sense of security and stability… to everything.
The one thing this pandemic can’t touch, however, is our souls. Our souls are not susceptible to this virus. In fact, our souls can flourish and be strengthened by all the ways this kind of catastrophe can strip away all but what is most essential in our lives. If we play this right, our faith and virtue can’t help but grow from this.
These days, now that everything we were building has come tumbling down, aren’t the essentials all we care about? What else deserves our attention right now?
However, we must work to keep our focus, because there is another contagious virus that is being spread, and it is even more debilitating than Corona. It’s fear. And it can cause us to see our neighbors as adversaries. We might see other suffering people as rivals, who are likely to take the essential supplies that we need to survive this. Coronavirus can’t touch our souls, but fear could. If we’re not careful, fear may cripple our souls from being able to do their job as the Divinely-guided internal force of life inside of us.
The soul is nourished and strengthened by gratitude. Grateful thoughts immediately connect us to God and remind us that we are not in charge of our lives – all good gifts come from God’s hand.
And because we have the “indigestion” that comes from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2-3), we can’t yet see that no experience in our life is beyond being able to reveal God’s glory.
I recently received a prayer from a friend who, despite his suffering from this experience, is working hard to nurture the grateful thoughts that feed his soul.
May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors,
remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home,
remember those who must choose
between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility
to care for our children when their schools close,
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips,
remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money
in the tumult of the economic market,
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home,
remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
may we find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. AMEN.
If you would like to be able to find a loving embrace from your parish community during this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, consider joining a small prayer group of parishioners that meets each week over the phone, Zoom, Skype or other form of technology. The parish staff and I are preparing a prayer group service each week that we will post on our parish Facebook pages tailored to these kind of gatherings. When the day comes that we’re able to go out but not yet able to have Mass, these small groups (of perhaps 6-8) can meet in peoples’ homes to keep us strong.
And some parishioners have decided to pray every day at 3 PM in their homes, knowing that other parishioners are doing the same thing. Isn’t that beautiful? Some are doing the Rosary at the time. Others are doing Centering Prayer, or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, or the Three C’s. What a great way to love God and stay connected to the great river of love we call the Mystical Body of Christ.
And please tune in to our 9:30 parish livestream Mass, which I plan to celebrate every week. You can find it by going to the website for St. Patrick’s, Ravena and clicking on the button on the main page. It’s also available later anytime on demand. Or if you have Mid-Hudson Cable, watch it on channel 901.
This has stripped us down to only the essentials. And one essential thing for me is to tell you now that I love you and I am praying for and with you,