Ecclesiastes Chapter 3
COVID-19 has effectively brought this chapter in Ecclesiastes to the forefront. All things under heaven have appointed times. In our lifetime, we have seen some of the negative events play out in their ‘time’ and the current pandemic seems one of the most extreme.
Reactions have been wide and varied. Some people have become extremely resistant during this time, trying to go about their business as usual. Some people have been in complete denial. Some have come up with interesting conspiracy theories.
But most people have chosen to follow directives from their State, Local, and Federal Governments. This would include bishops & priests. In compliance with health guidelines, Public Mass is now suspended. Although the bishops and priests are trying to use prudence to protect the people of their dioceses and parishes, many of them are being questioned and verbally chastised in public forums.
Watching it all unfold got me thinking:
What is the purpose of Mass? Is it for us, or is it for God? And what is the purpose of the priest celebrating the Mass? Mass is to give glory to God through the Liturgy, share the story of salvation so all may know Him, offer Christ’s presence through the Consecration, and for our priests to offer the Mass and prayers on behalf of the people, presenting us to God.
During the COVD-19 pandemic, our priests are still doing this. And we are blessed through the Internet to be able to watch and take part as best we can. Spiritual Communion is always available. Many of us are gratefully availing ourselves of the creative ways our priests have found to meet our spiritual needs during the crisis.
Even so and even for those who are trying to comply, this is difficult. For some it is apparently more difficult than for others, as is evident if you read through some of the social media posts of the disgruntled. But with executive orders from the President and governors, we are mandated to comply for the sake of safety. As Easter approaches, the feelings of loss and sadness will likely grow. How should we respond?
I have an assignment for you during these last weeks of Lent. It is to treat them in ways that honor both God and our dignity as believers.
First, find a daily podcast of either Mass or evening prayer. There is an abundace to choose from. Participate. Take part in a Spiritual Communion prayer. These will strengthen your spirit.
Second, pray a Rosary and/or Divine Mercy each day. Remember the intentions of the Church, and the health of all. Our Blessed Mother waits to intercede.
Third, on Palm Sunday, Easter Vigil & Easter Sunday dress up just like you would if you were physically going to Mass. Watch livestreams. Treat those liturgical experiences with the respect, honor and worship due to God. Then have a lovely family time together afterwards. Share a meal. Play games. Love each other.
FINALLY: Take a break from complaining about our bishops and priests. They care about us deeply and are preventing us from spreading a disease that could take the lives of some of those we love.
So what can you replace that complaining with?
Consider it a time of Redemptive Suffering. We are truly suffering by not being with our friends and even some of us with our families. We are suffering by not having the sacraments available to us.
But as Catholics, we should welcome and embrace Redemptive Suffering and use it for what it was intended. It is a time that we should use for prayer, especially for the holy souls in purgatory and others who may be suffering right now due to this virus. Offer up even this time of suffering to a greater good.
Now is a time where the strength of our faith can be made evident to all who see us. If we use it simply to complain and 2nd guess decisions that bishops have prayerfully made, we give scandal to the Church and do nothing positive for our own salvation. It is an opportunity for us to grow, instead of succumbing to a spirit of discord.
We are reminded in Romans 8:28 that all things work out for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Referring back to Ecclesiastes 3, this may be the appointed time for the purpose of spiritual growth in the midst of great suffering. Will you allow God to help you grow?
Be at peace.