In time of uncertainty, look for blessings we receive


The uncertainties we have been experiencing since the onset of COVID-19 and its effects did not take a vacation this summer. Instead of a free and easy summer, many of us experienced a strong desire for and recognized a need to get away, to decompress somewhere. Unfortunately, that didn’t always happen as vacations were canceled, limited or altered. Mine was the latter.

Every summer, between mid-July and mid-August, I like to take a few weeks off and spend time with family members and get to the beach. While technically not a staycation, this year I stayed in my brother’s apartment in the Washington area. I did get to visit Mom at the nursing home where she resides, but, as for so many families with relatives in nursing facilities, those visits were by phone, with us separated by glass.

As I reflected upon this summer, I acknowledge that things didn’t go as in the past, while noting the positives that came from them, like spending time with my brother and getting to visit Mom, even with COVID-19 restrictions.

As you know, we had to postpone ordinations scheduled for May and June, and we couldn’t have a full cathedral for our 200th anniversary Mass, but consider what we did have: a “mini-Triduum,” if you will, that included our Chrism Mass, the ordinations and the observance of our diocese’s founding all within less than 24 hours. We celebrated our Church — its past, present and future — and that’s what mattered.  

Most people who were able to take a vacation similar to their practice in previous years had their time away overshadowed by caution and concern about the pandemic. This time for rest and relaxation was not as complete or as substantial as we would have liked. We can bemoan what happened or we can change our perspective and look at it with gratitude.

We might not think of this as an opportunity for expressing our thanks to God, but it is necessary to give thanks to God even — or we should say especially — in the midst of challenges. Even when things don’t go as planned, be they diocesan celebrations or family vacations, we can always see the blessings, the grace of our faith and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are needed more than ever during this time.

What were you able to do as a result of not doing what you had planned? 

I have heard from some people that it meant more family time. For others, it meant intentionally connecting via Zoom and Facetime with family and friends who do not live close by. Some used it for physical and spiritual exercise — the latter in the form of prayer and reading. 

One man told me, “I got a chance to get to know my neighbors because we were all home.”

An often-heard word since March has been “adapt.” Individuals, families, workplaces, parishes and schools have adapted to the circumstances with which we live. 

Our weekend worship does not exactly sound like or look like it did pre-COVID, but the fact that we are able to come together and celebrate Mass is what is more important because we are nourished by the Eucharist.

Our Catholic schools have resumed in-person instruction. This took a concerted effort by administrators, teachers, staff and families to create safe environments for our children. At the same time, a back-up plan is in place in case we need to adapt to that method of education again.

While we continue to live in a time of uncertainty, we must continue to look for the blessings we are receiving, like the work done by our parishes and schools, and to offer God thanksgiving for them. 

As we are concerned about the duration of the pandemic and its effects, like the loss of employment and the impact that has on our families, we are reminded to pray as the psalmist did: “Cast your care upon the Lord, who will give you support. He will never allow the righteous to stumble” (Ps 55:23).

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