Usually, I invite you to let the sacredness and beauty of Lent, found in the simple beauty of our parish, her grounds, our liturgies and reflection times, such as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or Stations of the Cross, and even our Lenten Focus to bring you a deeper experience of the suffering of Christ and Christians around the world. But that has largely been taken away from us. We have, in a very real sense, been stripped naked and laid wide open to the world over the last year, but more so and more deeply to ourselves as we have all tried to adjust to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Yes, we are open again, on a limited basis to keep everyone safe, and we still find that we have much more time to be at home, isolated and alone, with our own thoughts and fears. We have had more time to be with family and let go of those who don’t live under our roof. We have let go of entertainment we so often take for granted like gyms, movie theatres, and dining out, and some have sadly even let go of God and church (even virtually). We have had to let go of social activities like bars, game night, and just hanging out with friends. Some have found our mental health has declined and we lash out at and abandon those who treated us – were – family. Yes, our lives have in a very real sense, been turned upside down and inside out. We have had to live with ourselves and our thoughts and have found we don’t like that place very much. For some of us, that is the most uncomfortable of all things. We are learning to love ourselves, let go of false and inaccurate criticisms – self and worldly – and let go of that which we thought was important to find that ‘pearl of great price’ we had all along. I wonder, if as we are in a strange, forced game of solitaire, we might also revaluate that which we neglected and hurt? Will we use this time as a sort of chrysalis to rediscover self and let go of all things of ego?
Perhaps, God can be more important than we thought now? Maybe Saint Miriam is really more a part of us than we had ever thought? Perhaps the dedication of our priests is now shining into areas of our lives before untouched? Perhaps our families and children will find us with a renewed sense of commitment and that love we thought lost for our spouses, will reemerge with a transformed vitality and hope?
St. Francis of Assisi willingly and intentionally abandoned a life of luxury for a life of faith. We have been forced, in many ways, to do the same now. He once said, “Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.”
How about us? Will we finally love more? If you see someone in need, give them a good deed. Or, will we leave it as and just claim that it’s the disease talking?