Wow, we have broken the 100-day window in our countdown! Just yesterday the CDC said that all those who are vaccinated can remove their masks when they meet with each other in a close environment. Experts are also saying that in the next two months there should be enough vaccines available to inoculate anyone in the US who wishes to be. This is a time of both tremendous hope and high anxiety. To hear people talk in their private conversations, we live in a time of “trauma.” It is hard to connect all of the dots in a coherent manner.
Shock occurs when people go through trauma. In fact, they often don’t remember what they did or said when they were in shock. I think some of that still continues in our lives right now.
Given that each of you at CFCS lives in a world that sees the impact of death on a daily basis, we may have grown a bit de-sensitized to the delayed grief that will emerge in the coming months. I believe the anxiety that we see in those around us, isn’t so much about the current threat of the virus but rather the exhaustion that comes with having changed our way of life for the last year. We’ve been traumatized by the fear of infection or death, the fear of political division, and the perceived loss of freedom. It is a lot.
How are we to emerge from the pandemic?
Much like the fabled groundhog who emerges from winter, I feel like my job each week is to gauge where we are at and communicate some “healthy” next steps to our leaders and staff. Part of this is my purpose for a countdown. It keeps reminding me that progress is being made and life will return to normal. God is with us each step of the way and is communicating to us.
Last week Bishop Cantu from the Diocese of San Jose celebrated the CFCS Memorial Mass. It was beautiful, and even in the midst of our busy-ness, it was a blessing to have him share with us a re-counting of the last year. He reminded us of God’s presence and helped me to center myself and consider how much we need to bring about healing over the next year. During the Mass, I realized that we have the opportunity to ask a number of bishops from our various dioceses to celebrate mass with our local staff, and also to ask them to share their message with the rest of us working throughout the country. I know that this reinforces their faith in all of us, as they too have been through a tough year. One of my goals will be to schedule some additional lived streamed masses in the coming months.
Lent this year is like a shorter version of this past year’s journey of personal sacrifice. It doesn’t seem so difficult for me this time around. Among friends who have been trying to keep an active prayer life, I keep hearing how they are simplifying life during Lent. Many of them feel like they have been on information overload, especially when the news cycle updates us daily about who is eligible for vaccination, what stage of opening we are in, or what dangers lie ahead. it hasn’t been so much about giving up something, but rather focusing on something that prayerfully centers them for what comes next. For me, I continue to try to do my daily Bible-In-A-Year podcast. Father Mike Schmitz is really good at reminding us that it isn’t about keeping up daily, but rather prayerfully supporting others as they too try to enrich their lives. In times past I used to feel a bit more guilt about needing to give something up. This year I realized I need to be nourished more in my own spiritual life. We’ll continue to look for ways to nourish our staff and help us work through the stages of grief that will undoubtedly be a part of our lives this year.
My prayer today for each one of you is that you are finding spiritual nourishment in your life and that it will be a gift that brings grace and energy to your personal relationships with your spouse, family, friends, and fellow workers. May God continue to bless you and keep you well!
With blessings and gratitude,