The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls.
Urbi et Orbi, Pope Francis, Friday, 27 March 2020
Walking the solitary streets of Rome to make his way to the Basilica of Mary Major and before the miraculous crucifix at the Church of San Marcello al Corso we witness our spiritual leader exemplifying both surrender and trust. Then amidst the rain while showing visible signs of the pains of sciatica and lifting high the Blessed Sacrament, once again he leads us together in prayerful reflection. “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And while for many of us this question invokes both poignant memories of challenges and questioning, there is also a reminder of hope and God’s continued presence. This internal turning of our hearts and souls to God is the undercurrent that buoys us up out of the depths of sadness to a strength beyond our own.
In the beginning, of the outbreak of the Corovirus, we in the United States continued for some time with our normal routines. There was a bit of uncertainty, but few imagined that we would be experiencing a life of quarantine and social distancing. Having a healthy awareness of germs and the ease with which these are spread, I began implementing measures for my immediate family early on. Still, as director of ministries for an active collaborative, it was becoming apparent that we must also be taking a second look at the forthcoming events and making decisions soon.
With a Lent replete with opportunities for spiritual reflection and connection, the calendar was brimming over. Long term planning had insured everything was in place, and yet in one swift motion the calendar was cleared. While there would be those who would insist on going forward, the responsibility to act to ensure the protection of our extended family of faith increasingly became paramount. “Be still and know that I AM God” had echoed in my heart since the start of this Lent and now I understood why.
I was being given the invitation to give over my schedule for a new one. What is the way ahead? No clue, but I know that God has never steered me wrong . Turning to prayer, there is the peace and awareness that, though difficult, in the path ahead God will always lead. This is the constant in the chaos, for the priority to put Christ front and center is abundantly clear. So, rather than becoming anxious we are called to trust over fear , and to love others more than we love what we do.
In this way, the sacrifice of our routines, comforts and even participation in the divine Eucharist becomes a beautiful offering. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and to this I can now personally attest to. For, within this space is a holy longing and desire for intimacy, that beckons us to draw close spiritually to Christ’s side in prayerful communion and community. He covers the distance, and His promise is true- we are never alone.
My Lord Jesus, only Love can work the miracle that we are asking for now. Any concern or intention that I carry today…I am laying it all at your feet. My Comforter, Friend and Savior my heart longs for a closeness to you. Lord show me what matters, help me to let go of all that is holding me back, and help me to see the invitation in the moments ahead.