Thursday, April 16, 2020

Reflecting on our time apart

Having gone through this Lenten period much as you all have - separated from my beloved in the Lord - I've had some time to reflect on what is being done across our country and across the globe.

Many people are watching videos either live or pre-recorded from their homes. That's great.

Many families are standing in their living rooms with tables pushed to the side, bowing, crossing themselves, and celebrating much as they would at church. That's even better.

Many are watching seated on comfortable couches in comfortable clothes lamenting the state of things as they watch. That's less good.

Still other families are eschewing these videocasts entirely in favor of modified services. They find texts online or adjusts books they already have on hand. Wonderful.

And yet others are doing absolutely nothing. "It's hard enough just surviving," they say. "I am barely keeping myself together, much less adding things to an already impossible situation." How dreadful.

There's a discernible pulse to all of this. You can almost feel the heartbeat of our connection to His Body pumping in time to the rising and falling of the sun. For some of us this rise and fall under our fingers is still quite strong - hardly diminished. For others it is a slow and soft thing - distant and muted. And for no small number of us, there is no discernible pulse at all.

And this, from my experience, is how people deal with times of tribulation of any kind. It doesn't have to be a global pandemic. It could be a problem at work or a financial problem or even the death of a loved one. In those times where there is difficulty sometimes it is Our Lord whose heart seems to beat for us - it is He who gives us the strength of heart to continue. If our heart is broken in sorrow, it is His love and care that will keep us alive.

And at the other end of things when some people face such challenges, they put the Church in a little box for storage until things are better. They don't draw strength from the Church as much as it is - for want of a better term - "decorates" their lives. They pare down all manner of practices to a sort of subsistence existence that they can handle and only add complexity or ornamentation as things improve.

This coronavirus has brought such a division into stark contrast. I'm sure some of you have days and nights filled with prayer since this quietude began. This time is bringing you closer to your family and closer to God. And for some of you it is almost as if prayer is a language you used to speak, but your tongue doesn't remember how to form the words. You reach out in the morning for a quick deliverance into tomorrow in the hope that this will all just be over. It has to end sometime, doesn't it?

The truth is that our entire life is spent between the "lub-dub" that forms the pulse of our days. Regardless of our situation, every day is choice between either seeking after God or seeking after a better tomorrow. We find God in the now. There is little of merit in some imagined tomorrow and certainly even less value in nostalgic reflections on the halcyon and roseate days of yore.

If you have lost the pulse, you won't find it again waiting for it to drum in your ears. You won't hear it from inside that little box you put His Church into. You are as separated from Him as you choose to be.

So I laud those of you who have gone from strength to strength in this time of trials. And I implore those of you who have isolated yourselves even from God Himself by a slackening of prayer, to relearn that lost language of intercession and find purpose in what done today can heal and not in the distractions it can provide. It will be imperfect and maybe uncomfortable. That's wonderful; you've given God a lot to work with. He has, as the lives of our saints will attest, a certain flair for turning the least of us into the best of us.

God's strength be with you all during this coronal season. We may be separated in body, but our spirit is united in expectant joy of His and our triumphant return!


  1. Thank you for this reflection. Crisis can be seen as Crux the Cross roads of renewed Faith, the call of the Vox Dei, the Voice of God that rings like a bell. If we hear His Voice will we respond or will we ignore Him? Each must respond even if it is seemingly no response. May Christ bring us from this Friday of degradation and fear to the brightness of His Resurrection. Kalo Pascha. Buona Pasqua. Joyfilled Pascha.

  2. Yes, as usual I do not fit neatly into any of the categories. I have prayed more, especially the Jesus Prayer but little else.

    Still as Holy Week as progressed, vivid rememberance of Holy Weeks past have come upon me and a deeply joyful anticipation of the Paschal reality is growing in my heart.

    10 years ago my God-loving wife was received into the Church, I was restored to the Cup and our marriage received a defacto blessing. 15 years ago as my heart was in deep grief for my newly departed wife, Jesus allowed me to participate in the Resurection His and my wife's.

    Joy is breaking forth in this world.

  3. Beautifully written and well-said!

    May Christ make us worthy to see His Resurrection - those who come at the first hour and those who come at the eleventh. All are welcome; how many will approach?

  4. Christ is Risen. Just found a video on line of a part of that Pascha service in my parish 10 years ago. Even got to see a dearly loved parishioner who departed this life a few years ago. As a young child his family took him up to Kearney NE for a gathering around the future St. Raphael of Brooklyn. There he received St. Raphael's blessing.

    He tramples down death!

  5. Beautiful text, Father! Christ is risen!