Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
You have no doubt heard the good news that hospitalizations due to coronavirus are on the decline in the state of Connecticut. While maintaining our vigilance and precautions, this is reason to breathe a sigh of relief. The possibility of some reopening in the coming weeks is very real, and what an exciting thought it is! As encouraging as this information is, we would do well to remember some important things as our world restarts. First, even though we might use the phrase “back to normal,” we need to remember that it will be a long time before things feel truly normal again. Restarting our economy, our community, even our parish life, will be a slow process, and some things will remain altered for the foreseeable future, if not forever. Second, this gradual restart will come with some good-faith efforts…and as with all good-faith efforts, there will be some who don’t believe they are enough, those who want to criticize or complain. We need to collectively fight the temptation to carp about the efforts honest people are making. Keep a level head. Naturally, if something is wrong, if there is evidently less-than-good-faith, say something. But otherwise, view everything from the most charitable perspective possible. Third, we ought to stockpile patience in our hearts for that slow return to public life. Hoard charity. Panic buy prudence.
The increasing hope of a slow return to both civil and ecclesial life is exciting. In many ways, the things we need to be cognizant of are mirrors of the spiritual life. The pandemic represents an epochal moment, something that changes our lives and history in a profound way. So is our faith in Jesus Christ meant to change us in real, substantial ways. At any retreat or conference in the Catholic world, one of the last talks will usually cover the theme “what now?” How do we go back to our lives after this experience? Our Catholic faith in this time and moving forward can and should be a force for change. Perhaps you have found yourself praying more, tuning in to our livestream Masses and Rosaries. Perhaps you have taken some extra time for spiritual reading, Bible study, or intentional works of charity. Perhaps these things have been new to your practice of the faith. Has it changed you? Will you keep these good things going as the world starts to turn again? What difference for good has this pandemic made in your life, in your home, in your heart? Keep it going. For some, this has been a time that reveals long-hidden wounds, resentments, and pain. With everything on hold, we have no choice but to confront those scars. God desires to bring healing, both now and as we return to our lives. For almost all of us, this time will result in changed priorities. But will that change last? Pray now, today, that our altered priorities may remain rightly ordered. Pray now, today, that the patience we have been challenged to have will grow more in our hearts. Pray now, today, that the change we have experienced will be for our benefit here and for eternity.