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For us Catholics, Lent is supposed to be a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Its length of forty days leads to its Latin name “Quadragesima.”
During this time of coronavirus, I have been quarantining at home since even before the executive order in New York State and the bishops’ decree there be no public sacraments in churches. It is difficult to say what I think about the bishops’ decision. Part of me agrees with it and part of me is horrified, so mostly I try not to think about it but instead to pray for relief and grace and protection.
Last Thursday our pastor announced that he and other area pastors had been instructed by our local bishop to bring the Blessed Sacrament outside and bless our nation. As our parish’s Facebook page says,
At 12 noon on Thursday, March 19, per the request of Bishop Colacicco to reassure our Parishioners of the continued pastoral solicitude of our Priests, Fr. John along with many other Parish Priests, offered a simple Benediction at the front doors of our church with the Monstrance in hand. The intention was to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness, to ask protection against the spread of the Corona Virus and to end this pandemic. Not to violate the emergency executive order prohibiting gatherings, we were told NOT to notify anyone of this Benediction beforehand, but to publish the Benediction afterwards.
This public act filled me with hope and peace. I rejoiced knowing that this had been done, especially because it was the feast day of St. Joseph, the Terror of Demons!
This time has been very difficult, but at the same time, on a personal note, the forced isolation helps me to realize how much time and energy I put into our parish’s celebration of Lent. As a cantor, I lead many services at our church, which always takes a lot out of me. My children serve on the altar and as lector. We have no outside obligations this year. I will be home all of Holy Week this year. Rather than focusing on the songs and the order of the service as I tend to do when I am responsible for so much during the liturgy, I have leisure to focus on the prayer itself. This is a true blessing, and one of those unintended consequences of this terrible time.
I feel much more peaceful going into Laetare Sunday and rounding the corner of these days as we spin down towards Holy Week. There are no pamphlets to coordinate with the religious ed director or psalms to rehearse or any of the many mundane things that go with the public performance that is part of the Mass. I hate not having the sacraments available to me, but at the same time, the opportunities for grace abound and I have the leisure to see them.
I pray I never live through another Quadragesima like this one and that I can return very very soon to my church and worship our Lord in spirit and in truth, receiving Him sacramentally as well as spiritually, but I also thank the good Lord for His graces during this Quarantine, and His help in making it holy. It is my Quaran-gesima this year.
May you all find peace and blessings this and every day.