Those seem to have been the norm for the past year and one half as we have had to make numerous adjustments in our lives occasioned by the pandemic and the need to take precautions to mitigate its spread. Although people are being vaccinated in increasing numbers, the recent emergence of a toxic variant has shown that we cannot relax our vigilance in dealing with the situation, especially as we approach the Labor Day holiday and prepare for the change in lifestyle that this will bring. No one wants to face the prospect of going into lockdown mode once again which makes it necessary for us to accommodate to any minor disruptions in our customary routines to prevent that from happening. The bright spot in all of this is that we are able to gather for worship and be nourished with the sacraments which empower us to face whatever may develop knowing that the grace of God will see us through.
I write this because disruptions, like other distractions, can hinder us from achieving a healthy lifestyle and even be the cause of our betraying ourselves and others. That’s why a strong and vibrant prayer life is so important. For a Christian this means being centered in Christ, and for us in the Roman Catholic tradition we find him most fully in the Eucharist. We are blessed to be able to gather weekly and even daily for Mass, which is the most intense experience of the presence of the Risen Christ. As a priest the celebration of the Liturgy is the high point of my day and no matter what disruptions might occur in the course of any given day, having been nurtured with the Eucharist empowers me to stay on track and fulfill my responsibilities even when obstacles may appear.
I would thus invite and encourage us all not only to be faithful in fulfilling our Sunday Mass obligation but also to consider coming the Mass occasionally on a weekday, especially in those times when we have to face disruptions which might threaten our overall well-being. When combined with a daily routine of prayer this will provide a sense of peace and calm in otherwise turbulent circumstances. We have only to reflect on the Gospel account of Jesus presence with the disciples when they found themselves on storm tossed seas to realize how necessary maintaining a strong connection with him is in helping us to survive our disruptions (see Matthew 8:23-27; and Mark 4:35-41).
Thus, as we enter what is commonly thought of as “the last full week of summer” not knowing what sort of disruptions might await us as dictated by the ongoing pandemic, we would do well to assess our relationship with the Risen Christ and remember his response to the disciples when they were overcome with fear thinking they were going to drown as the waves swept over their boat in the storm. After calming the sea, he challenged them by asking why they were afraid and questioning their faith. Our response to the disruptions in our lives will be a good indication of the strength of our faith.
Be at peace,
Father Dennis Mende