By Msgr. Terrence Sullivan
The pandemic of the coronavirus has caused many changes in our lives. Sometimes we focus only on how it has badly affected us, e.g., not being able to do the things we want, not being able to be with the people that are normally part of our lives. However, I have found God’s grace working in me during this pandemic. A couple of examples:
I have become more aware of how dependent we are on each other to do our part. Because of the pandemic we have learned that to prevent it from spreading, we need to accept it as a real problem even though it may not be affecting us personally at this time. It is not someone else’s problem – it is a problem for each one of us. Each of us needs to wash our hands, practice social distancing and wear a mask when in public. I may unknowingly be a carrier of the virus and unwittingly spread it to others if I do not do my part and take the necessary precautions. – and others could do the same to me. Each of us depends on each other to do what is needed to stop the spread of the virus.
I was thinking about this in relation to other “sicknesses” that have become more apparent at this time: the sicknesses of how people of different races or cultures are treated, of homelessness, of lack of affordable healthcare, etc. While we know it affects other people, we may not accept them as a real problem because they may not be affecting us personally. We can think of them as someone else’s problem. Yet, my attitudes, my thoughts, my words, my actions can affect others. I can unwittingly allow these sicknesses to continue to fester by ignoring them or downplaying them and going about my normal business and in this way allow others to think the same way. Thus, little will be done and the sicknesses will continue. As with the coronavirus, each of us depends on each other accept these as real problems, to see what in our thoughts our words or our actions may be allowing these sicknesses to continue, and then do what we can to change so we can stop the spread of these illnesses in our society.
I have grown in my appreciation of the Eucharist. I have always had an appreciation of the Eucharist. As a priest, I have not had to ‘fast’ from the Eucharist during this time when all public Masses have been suspended as I can celebrate the Eucharist privately. However, I have felt something missing when I do this. What was missing was the presence of the community of faith. What a difference it is not to be able to gather with other members of the Church to listen to God’s word, to pray together for the needs of others, to join in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, and to be united with the Lord and each other in Communion. I realize more how my faith is strengthened and supported by the presence of fellow believers when we celebrate the Eucharist each week together. I hunger and thirst for the time we will be reunited physically in the celebration of the Eucharist.
I thank God for the grace that I have received during this time of the pandemic to understand more fully our need for each other – be it to address the illnesses in our society or to be supported in our journey of faith. This pandemic has been a time of grace.