I’m writing to remind you of how things were during the COVID-19 pandemic, to chronicle some lessons you learned, and to remind you of the kind of change you wished to see in your life after lockdown.
Most people do not like to be alone. But why? Solitude comes from the Latin, “solus,” meaning alone, connoting seclusion and isolation. Loneliness has an undesirable connotation of being friendless, rejected, forsaken, and forlorn.
Sacraments are those signs that achieve in human hearts and lives what they signify to human minds,” University of Notre Dame theologian Jesuit Father Brian Daley once said.
While watching Mass on television at St. Mathew’s Cathedral in Washington, I thanked God for technology, and especially its gift to shut-ins. Yet seeing empty pews made me feel something was missing.
My already-large family was very recently blessed with an Easter-time gift: my grandniece Rosalie, whose birth in a Staten Island hospital thankfully went without event, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on our local health facilities. Rosalie’s middle name, Santina, was my late mother’s first name, and she would be her fourth great-grandchild.
Inspired by last week’s editorial, “As The Tablet Sees It,” I decided to record some of my own impressions about live-streaming Masses during the pandemic. Perhaps we could name it: “As Father Chris Heanue Sees It”!
One of my earliest memories is watching Mass on TV with my Nonna. I would patiently await the time during the Mass when she would walk over to her china closet and tear off a piece of an Oplatki Christmas Wafer she kept inside.
In early March, I went to Sam’s Club to stock up for the coming shelter-in-place order. On a whim, I put yeast and a large bag of flour into my cart. Having never baked bread before, it was the definition of a random purchase. Some-
thing in me thought bread may be hard to come by, so I wanted the ingredients to bake it myself if need be.
Lent is meant to be a challenging time during which we deny ourselves material goods in order to grow closer to God. On Ash Wednesday, only four weeks ago, we could scarcely imagine how challenging these 40 days would be.
The coronavirus pandemic forced us into quarantine and instituted a new normal that is far from our old normal. Non-essential workers remain in closed quarters due to logical, scientific justification: to contain the spread as much as humanly possible. But even logic can’t completely quash our very human and very real fear of the present moment.