Spirituality for Today – Fall 2020 – Volume 25, Issue 1

What Remains

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

When quarantines, social distancing, business closings, ventilators, masks, and the lack of paper goods become dim memories, and things slowly return to normal, we might question what remains from the experience of the Caronavirus. The loss of loved ones will always exist in the hearts of families, friends, and, indeed, in all of us. I pray that the work of God’s grace within the hearts of people will continue to influence our behavior. Human beings began to recognize that their individuality is a part of a community and the medicine of kindness, charity, and self-sacrifice emerged from the fear and restrictive, albeit necessary, governmental policies. Families learned many lessons about how much they need one another and where they can improve on areas where that love and concern was lacking. The value of work and how connected we are in providing the necessities of life and how fragile that network of provision can become.

Sadly, accompanying the love and hope that we give to one another, a dark side of the human condition raises its ugly head. What do we call those people who prey upon the unsuspecting and vulnerable; those who employ scams and false information attempting to rob others? I wish that I could say that it is a unique occurrence, but, historically, some individuals use tragedy as an opportunity to defraud or take advantage of people, to unfairly profit form their needs or fears. I pray that through some dam-busting divine grace these people my come to a conscience and to an awareness of God and the command to love one’s neighbor. Interestingly, this manner of love involves self-respect, a respect for one’s thoughts, words, and deeds, a respect for how one’s life touches others. Quite a task for an immoral person, but it can be done.

Our work – my work – consists in taming, containing, subduing, evangelizing, and angelizing the evil self, and in restoring harmony with the good self. Salvation lies in abandoning the evil self in principle, and in taking refuge with the other, the divine self - in accepting with courage and prayer the task of living with one’s own demon, and making it into a less and less rebellious instrument of good.

Henri Frederic Amiel

Beyond all the material challenges and personal lifestyle changes, a great void was created within the spiritual life of the faithful, The Mass was gone to us. Yes, priests continued to offer private Masses for individual intentions and for the people of God, one could watch Mass on television including Holy Week and Easter services, but we all new that it was not the same. Personal prayer and spiritual exercises took on even greater significance, but the overall spiritual context of these actions felt inadequate somewhat or a bit out of place. The reason, of course, is that everything flows from the Eucharist – the centerpiece of our Catholic faith. We feel the absence of the Real Presence placed upon our hand or on our tongue. We also sense the lack of church, the loss of community surrounding our communion. Among that which remains of this virus experience, I pray that a strong and enduring thankfulness for the living presence of Jesus guiding our spiritual and physical existence.

Maybe one gift of these past months will be that of opportunity. The opportunity of not allowing a return to normal, of keeping an awareness of the best of us and a disdain for the worst. Amid the sufferings and sorrows of what a pandemic can produce, there occurred an unveiling of what is human and what is divine. We are presented with a choice, a choice that can raise us through hope to holiness or one that drags us to despair. One aspect of this opportunity is wisdom, wisdom of a kind that teaches us how little we can control in life and a wisdom that instills in us the need of God.

Now, we learn from the past and hope for the future. Let us in prayer and compassion for the loved ones lost offer our unified wishes for faith and comfort. He who conquers is at our side. We gather again at the source of our faith. I pray that an enduring joy and love capture our hearts for all our lives. Although we did our best while being away, how wonderful to be together again. Welcome Home!