Saturday, March 20, 2021

Hope

Sometimes, hope can be inspired by the most mundane things, especially in this crazy, mixed-up world in which we're currently living.  Sometimes, hope looks like a family of nine filling up an entire pew at a weekday Mass: a mother on one end and a father on the other, with their seven beautiful children--five older daughters and two young sons--between them. 

That hope-filled sight is what my husband and I saw a few rows ahead of us when we attended Mass  on Friday morning--on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph.  As if that family wasn't sweet enough already, they were joined by a grandmother a few minutes after they'd gotten seated.

But it was more than merely seeing three generations of a large, lovely Catholic family sitting together at Mass that comforted our wounded hearts and refreshed our weary souls.  It was that this particular family, which we'd never seen before that day, was there at church unmasked, every single one of them, their faces--made in the image and likeness of God--visible to all and shining with the light of faith.  In a sea of masked faces, this family stood out.  In a good way.  Such a good way. It made my husband and me wonder: is it possible that we can hope for an end to all of this, sooner rather than later?


Sunday Mass attendance is way down at our parish, even though the Covid lockdown of churches in our state ended a while back.  There are no longer pews roped-off, but the church is always far from crowded and people are careful to space themselves out from others.  There is a sign on the door saying that masks are required, so most if not all people wear them.  My husband retired early from his career as a commercial airline pilot in September of 2020, and since then we've been going to daily Mass together whenever we can.  (If ever there was a time that our country and our world needed extra prayers and sacrifices, we thought, this is surely it.) There is a core group of about 30 "regulars" who usually attend daily Mass, but even when the group is that small and that spaced-out, pretty much everyone wears a mask.

Both my husband and I tested positive for Covid in early December of 2020, and we spent about 10 days battling what felt like the flu.  We both ran slight fevers, were tired, had body aches and headaches, and had mild coughs.  Neither of us lost our sense of taste or smell, but we both felt our sense of taste was "off."  (For me, it was like being in the first trimester of pregnancy, when your stomach is queasy and nothing tastes good. I couldn't even stand the taste of my beloved coffee and was drinking cinnamon tea instead--so you know I was sick!)

Once we'd recovered from Covid and knew that we couldn't contract or spread the virus, we thought maybe it was okay to forget about masking up for Mass.  But our parish priest made a comment about obedience and pride during a homily, and we asked ourselves if maybe that message applied to us.  So on went the masks again.  We suspect that Father believes the pandemic is over and is anxious for people to get back to living normally and attending Mass regularly, but he wants to be obedient to the instructions of his Bishop.  So in a way, we feel that wearing our masks in church makes his job easier, and we look at it as a sacrifice we can offer up; but in another way, it seems so very wrong on so many levels, and we think it's doing so much harm--to individuals and to society as a whole. 

So you can imagine how thrilled we were to see this unmasked family.  (I want to be them when I grow up!) They did not seem disobedient or prideful; on the contrary, by their humble demeanor they exuded an aura of piety and grace.  And courage.

In this day and age, oddly enough, walking around without a mask on is courageous.  You can get yourself into a whole lot of hot water with some folks if you do. But how crazy is it that even if people have gotten the vaccine, or better yet, if they've developed the antibodies from having fought off the virus, they are still required to wear masks and keep "socially distant" (ugh, what an awful term!) until...well, until when? When will we decide that this virus with an extremely low mortality rate has run its course and herd immunity has been achieved?  When will we decide that we can live again--fully live, without our humanity covered up by pieces of cloth that many scientific studies have shown don't really work against viruses but instead merely give the pretense of protection? When will we stop being afraid of other people?!

"We have spent a year being so afraid of dying that we've been afraid of living."

I saw that quote somewhere, so I can't take credit for it. However,  I agree with it wholeheartedly.  In the words of George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, "I want to live again!  Please God, let me live again!"  Our family has been unusual in that since the end of the initial "15 days to flatten the curve" lockdown, we have not let Covid keep us apart.  We have not stopped seeing each other. We get together to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Our grandchildren come over to our house routinely to play in our basement.  We shop, we go out to eat, we go to the gym.  In our own little world, we have been living as normal a life as possible.  But when the greater world outside your door has gone mad, it can't help but affect you.  

When I get depressed, I remind myself that all the people I love most and I are living here now, in this time in history, for a reason.  God put us here at this strange time, so this is where we're meant to be.  In my lifetime, I have never known real suffering; but throughout history, so many have had to endure unimaginable horrors--wars, famines, plagues, and worse.  We will get through this; and perhaps with the help of the heavy crosses we will be asked to bear, we will even become saints in the process.

But it will take a lot of daily Masses.  And Rosaries. And novenas.  It will take faith in God's will for our lives and faith in His boundless love and mercy.  It will take courage.  And it will take a lot of hope.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post - you put so well in words exactly what I have felt all along.

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    1. One of my daughters-in-law feels this way, too, but even so said she thought I was brave to post this. I think a lot of people must have these thoughts, but feel like they can’t say them out loud. It’s sad, isn’t it? :(

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  2. Love you, Laura! And I love wearing a mask because it's something I can do to show that I care about the people around me as I live my life fully! We won't need them forever but I'll be keeping mine to put on if I've got a cough or sniffles as is common done in other parts of the world. I used to think those people were afraid but know I know they were being kind.

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    1. We may not agree on the mask issue...but I love you, too, Sheila! ❤️ Hope all is well out on the West Coast!

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  3. I actually don't mind the masks too much either. I figure, they may not stop the airborne-COVID stuff, but they certainly keep the droplet stuff at bay. My kids have certainly gotten less of the colds/strep stuff that comes with being in school. (They've been full time in person since September, just with masks.) But, our state mask manadate is done already so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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    1. So glad your kiddos got to stay in school! And yay to the light at the end of the tunnel! ❤️

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