As I sat at mass on Ash Wednesday at St. Johns, I never anticipated that I wouldn’t be able to physically be there at the Easter Vigil. To me, the Coronavirus seemed just like anything else at the time – something that would quickly pass. Boy was I wrong. In mid-March, after a series of government ordinances, the Bishop announced that all public masses were suspended until future notice. I couldn’t believe the news. I look at the picture I took of the last weekday mass I attended at St. John’s on March 17th at 8:00 a.m., and I long for the day when I can be there again. Virtual masses have been great and I’m very appreciative that I can still participate in the sacrifice from a distance, but nothing substitutes for receiving Your body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. What a gift You have given us…a gift that I have often taken for granted.
I marvel, though, at how You work…because in this time of physical separation, I desire You more than I ever have before. The fifth reading for the Easter Vigil expresses this sentiment so perfectly: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55: 1-11). While we may never know if there is a reason for this pandemic, it’s given all of us an opportunity to reflect on the fragility of life and our own mortality. Sometimes it takes a complete shaking up of the universes that we construct for ourselves to remind us that we are not ultimately in control. There is a God and we are NOT Him.
For as Christians, we believe that death is NOT the end but rather a passageway unto eternal life. Just as a baby must exit his mother’s womb after 9 months to be born into the world, so we too must leave this world at the end of our earthly lives to enter eternity. And eternity is FOREVER. What a sobering thought – one that should cause us to reflect on how we are spending our time on this earth. In the busyness of life, we often distract ourselves with work, sports, social media, music, TV, technology, etc. Why? Because it’s hard to face the truth – the reality that we are imperfect, dependent, and not in control. And yet that’s precisely where You come in, oh Lord. One of the greatest blessings of this pandemic has been an increased opportunity for silence. You’ve given us the gift of time, to be used well. As I’ve sat in adoration over the past forty days, I realize how desperately I was trying to put together the puzzle of my life. I was speaking to You, but I wasn’t allowing You to speak to me in and through the silence. And what did I start to hear through this silence? I heard You asking me to trust in You, to receive your love. I told You at the start of Lent that I didn’t feel worthy of your love. I didn’t understand how you could love me in my weakness, constantly struggling with the same sins and attachments. But in the silence, I heard You reassuring me that it was never You who didn’t love me, but I who never let You love me; that you came down from Heaven and died that awful death on the cross because we need a Savior, because we cannot do this life on our own; that the cross, which was meant for death and destruction, is actually the instrument of salvation; that our suffering (physical, emotional, spiritual) united to Your own is a means to eternal glory; that we must die to ourselves and to sin in order to share in your resurrection.
Thank You for loving us despite our infidelities; for never giving up on us and always providing new opportunities (perhaps in the most unexpected of ways!) to reorient our lives and draw closer to you. Yes, the Coronavirus is scary, but You bring a greater good out of everything. Just as the Exsultet that we heard on the Easter Vigil proclaims, “O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!” You make all things new, Oh Lord. Transform our hearts and minds so that one day, we may enjoy eternal bliss with You.
I love you Jesus, my Love. I am sorry for ever having offended You. Never let me offend You again. Grant that I may love You always, and then do with me as You will.
By: Diane Kremheller