Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about how it’s “American New Years”, promising to write more. That was the last post I wrote. Well, at least I had good intentions.
A few days ago, I got a note from a reader letting me know I should write again, especially in this time of world trouble. I am not sure what I can say that would be of any value to anyone. I am just like everyone else, frustrated and lonely.
I think it’s the loneliness that is most bothersome to me. The worry and frustration of what is going to happen next, whether there will be a job for me in the future, whether or not my kids will be able to go to school or have the opportunities I have had, the worry for the finances of my, or my dear friends in my parish and community, the fear of disease and death, all that worry and frustration I leave to God. Really, it just doesn’t bother me. If God has taught me one thing, it is that I can trust Him, that He loves us, dotes on us, cares for us like only a perfect father can. Really, whatever comes, it’s in God’s hands, and there are no other hands I’d rather be in.
But the loneliness. That’s hard.
Being a cleric, I have been given the great gift of being able to assist at Mass every week to an empty church. At first, there was the deep sense of being bothered that I should get to be with our Lord in Mass, while others were denied that great gift. That still bothers me deeply.
But be be alone, reading scripture into a camera, to take communion without the communion of our people, to hear no responses from the congregation, this is pure emptiness. I feel like an island.
Often, people will act as if I’m some great guy for being helpful. They will talk about how nice I am to visit the sick and elderly, to sit up late chatting with college students, or how much I love kids, and listen to them. They are all wrong. I wish it was a sense a charity that made me like that, but the truth is, no matter how busy it makes me, I LOVE sharing the Lord with people. I LOVE hearing their stories, and helping them through their problems. I love every minute of it. God’s children are MY children, and my heart goes out to them as if they were my own. I cannot tell you the peace and joy that is for me.
So to have my family taken from me in this time of crisis, just when I feel like I should be at their doorstep is painful, horribly and frustratingly painful. To know that I have family who are afraid of financial ruin, sickness, and fear, and to not be able to sit with them and let them know that it’s going to be okay hurts me deeply, very, very, very deeply. I feel like a father who isn’t allowed to comfort his child, but is instead forced to sit on the other side of the glass watching the pain. This is when I am SUPPOSED to be be there for my people, and instead, I speak into a camera.
There is nothing good about this. I do not like it one bit. I know I can’t do anything, because the vulnerable is who I serve, and were I to pass sickness to them, that would be untenable. I can’t go to them to comfort and help.
But what can we do about the sickness of the soul? How can I stand by and do nothing while there is so much suffering?
I would love to have some happy, well centered conclusion, some thoughtful and insightful help for people to close, but I fear I cannot. Sometimes suffering is simply real, and must be lived through. Sometimes there is no relief.
That’s okay too, God knows what He’s doing.
If you are looking for an online Mass for you to pray with your family, you are welcome to visit us on the Saint Bernard’s/Sacred Heart Youtube Channel. Know you are in our prayers, and please keep us in yours.