A New Abnormal

Living in the “pandemic world” has created a situation where nothing seems quite normal. I recently read an article that explained why many of us are seeing our waistlines expand and finding restful sleep a bit challenging. The author explained that our bodies are in a “fight or flight” mode as a result of the constant state of heightened anxiety caused by the pandemic and forced isolation. The body responds in a protective fashion similar to when one is faced by a danger. The weight gain and sleepless nights are part of the body’s natural response to stress (The deacon now feels better about the extra pounds he has accumulated during these past weeks).

I am finding the term “a new normal” a bit annoying lately. There is nothing normal about being isolated in our homes, having to miss important family events, and wearing a mask to the grocery store. I visited my Catholic doctor’s office this past week. I was told to stay in my car, call when I arrived, and someone would call me to the door and escort me to the exam room. I pulled on my mask, as I exited my car. The nurse brought me to the room and took my vitals. The doctor came in clad in his mask. When he saw that I was wearing a mask, he asked if he could take his off for comfort. It made our visit much more personal and pleasant. We had a wonderful conversation about this whole situation as two Catholic men, who believe that when our time comes God will call us home.

There is nothing normal about the current situation in our Church. We have been live-streaming Sunday Mass from an empty church for several weeks now. For most of us, the focus of our Sunday is on the Eucharist and our public worship together as a community. Father Steven and I miss our community worship and all of you. There is nothing normal about being unable to regularly receive the Eucharist. This has been a common complaint from many people, as we live through this pandemic time in our history.

So what is God doing in all of this? Does God consider this normal?

As people of faith, we believe that God stands over everything in our lives. Our loving Father always wants what is best for us, and even in the darkest of times He has never left us or abandoned us. His Holy Spirit still guides us, even when we find ourselves giving in to moments of despair and sadness in the midst of the uncertainty of what we can expect as “normal” at the turn of another day.

One of my favorite scriptures is from John, chapter 14. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his passion, death, and resurrection. They were confused and fearful. Jesus begins by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” As this chapter unfolds, it is like a soothing balm for our weary souls—it is words of solace and comfort when our hearts are troubled. In this chapter, Jesus reminds us that His Holy Spirit will come and be with us always—a Spirit of Truth!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are not living in “normal” times, but times of great challenge. Were we without faith, this would truly be a time of crisis for us. I can’t tell you how many times in these days I have opened my bible to pray Psalm 23 and John, chapters 13-17. I need to go back to the source of truth to counteract the constant barrage of half-truths and lies that constantly assault us, day in and day out.

Perhaps the Lord is calling each of us to a deeper conversion of heart through this time of crisis. Maybe God is asking us to reach out in faith to those whose hearts are troubled and bring the Light of Christ to a darkened world. What blessings have each of us experienced in our personal lives, our families, and even our work settings, as a result of this pandemic? God is still powerfully at work in this world.  Maybe we need to look beyond the hype and negativity to see that our loving Father’s hand indeed still guides us. Make no mistake, we are living in a broken and abnormal pandemic world at this point in our history. God calls each of us to hold to our Catholic faith. It is a shield against the evil of the world and a beacon of light in the darkness of these days of social isolation. Let’s pray for each other, okay? We will make it through by God’s grace. With rosaries in hand and faith in our hearts, we will make it through this pandemic together, brighter and more faithful than ever!

In Christ our hope,
Deacon Tim

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