Pandemic’s Test

Dear Friends in Christ,

This is the time of year when goals are envisioned, plans created, and resolutions made. Looking ahead for our parish there are several things we will need to focus our efforts on in 2022. First, there is no underestimating the impact of COVID-19. We are going to be dealing with the effects of this pandemic for years to come. Unfortunately, there is no set time schedule as to when normalcy will return or what it will look like. The medical and health issues are one thing, but there are other effects due to the pandemic. There are also psychological, emotional, societal, economic, political, cultural, and spiritual issues which have to be addressed and dealt with. Our parish, like every individual, family, organization and institution will have to deal with the lingering impacts of the pandemic now and in the years to come.

Of the utmost importance for all of us is dealing with the spiritual impact the pandemic has made. The simple truth is that all of us have had our faith tested in one way or another and not all have fared well. Some people have grown lukewarm or cold in their faith, others have lost the habit of weekly Mass and even of daily prayer. To this, we must respond. Guilting and haranguing will do little good. What is needed is a spiritual revival. The faith has to be presented and lived in a manner that the true and real benefits are alluring and desirable. Yet before we proclaim the joy of a relationship with the Lord to others, we must first make sure that our spiritual life is healthy and solid. Non dat quid non habet one cannot give what one does not have! We need to make sure that the fire of faith burns lively in our hearts and souls. Simply put, we must live our faith everyday – daily prayer, Sunday Mass, regular confession, observing the Ten Commandments, living the Evangelical Counsels, and practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. As St. Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd Century) wrote, “Gloria Dei homo vivens, vita autem hominis visio Dei” The glory of God is a person fully alive and life for a person is the vision of God!

The first way in which we can address our needs is prayer! We turn to God in prayer and supplication. Yet as simple as this sounds and can be, it can also be challenging. The disciples themselves had difficulty with prayer as evidenced in their plea to Jesus when they implored, “Lord, teach us to pray!” Most people experience challenges in prayer at one time or another. The biggest block to encountering God in prayer is always ourselves. Our reluctance, doubt, fear, and misgivings are always rooted in our own pride. Pride is the illusion that we have all the answers and power completely in ourselves. Pride is the temptation to think that “I can do this all by myself, I’ve got this!” Thus, prayer always requires humility. We cannot be prideful and pray at the same time. To be successful in prayer we need to humbly acknowledge that God is other than ourselves, that we do not have all the answers or the power totally within us. In other words, we must accept and
acknowledge that God is God, and we are not.

The last two years of dealing with COVID have impacted personal relationships (marriages, family life, friendships) and emotions. Emotionally and spiritually, the pandemic has caused a lot of people to experience a form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This is manifested in many ways such as depression, alcohol and substance abuse, behavioral issues (overeating, sexual addictions, pornography, manic shopping, gambling, etc.) While each of these serious issues needs to be addressed in an appropriate fashion, we can accomplish great things by first taking these concerns to God in prayer. We ask God for His help and guidance. Praying every day is one of the best ways to deal with personal, emotional and behavioral issues in our lives. Daily prayer helps us to cope and put things in a proper perspective. Prayer gives us strength and hope. Prayer increases God’s grace within us and enables us not to live solely in our heads and in our fears. Prayer is the oxygen to our souls. Prayer is an encounter with the living God.

In pace Christi,

Fr. Troy