“As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your day.” — Neil Diamond
Yesterday, the nation hit a milestone no one thought possible a year ago. We hit 500,000 deaths due to the novel corona virus. Naturally, that number will be scrutinized by some. Some deny the severity of the virus while others think the number is far too low. This isn’t really about that.
The direct human costs are in your face. It is those other costs that end up taking a toll. It might be that lost graduation or senior prom. It could be a vacation that had to be cancelled or youth sports events that had to be postponed or cancelled outright. All of us lost events where we could visit with extended family. The list goes on and on.
The one that occurs to me off and on is the absence of mass. Like anything else, it sometimes fades in and out depending on the other crises we might be dealing with at the time. We get into habits and staying home on Sunday has become a new norm. However, it hit me like a ton of bricks this past week for what will become an obvious reason.
Today’s post takes a bit of a different direction. Hopefully, it provides those that don’t know me so well with a window to my soul. Better yet, it affords all of us the opportunity to take a break from bashing others. As many of you know, I am a fairly devout Catholic. It’s hard to call yourself that when you’ve missed mass for as long as we have. I can only hope God understands.
There have been any number of moments in my life when that faith has been shaken. Usually, that has involved people. People constantly let you down. God never does. What always brings me back are the key differences between Catholicism and the other denominations. The Eucharist is obviously the main one and I could go on about that, but the other is the opportunity for introspection.
Most people know that Lent is the most important time of year for any Catholic culminating in Easter which is the most important day for any Christian. It officially begins on Ash Wednesday. That was last Wednesday. Due to the Covid and the icepocalypse we didn’t have Ash Wednesday. It was the first time that has happened in my 47 years. Missing that day is one of those jarring events that brings things back into focus.
As everyone knows, the pandemic really got in full swing around Spring Break last year. School was cancelled after that, so we got in the beginning of Lent but ended up missing Easter Sunday. Unless a miracle happens that will be the case this year as well.
Lent is the main time for introspection. One of the hard things to reconcile is watching other denominations spend so much time and energy preaching. It has always made me uncomfortable. It becomes easier to see the flaws we all have when putting yourself out there like that. It becomes that much more difficult to ignore them when someone is busting out their holier than thou.
Lent gives us the opportunity to take a step back, pray independently, and work on ourselves. Most people are familiar with the concept of giving something up for Lent. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can also add something worthwhile. It’s really about forcing self-improvement. The family has taken up walking at night. We walk maybe a mile and it gives us an opportunity to get our butt off the couch.
As independent an endeavor as Lent can be, not being able to be there on Sunday is a blow. It is one of the many hidden blows we have all had to deal with during this pandemic. One of the troubles with milestones is that it gives people the opportunity to go directly into blame mode. It’s the same thing we saw this past week with the power problem. There’s a time for blame and a time for action. In this case, there is a time for reflection.
We focus on the loss of life and the loss of jobs and or businesses. Those things are very real and obviously important. The loss of those other things are no less important even if they are hidden. It may not be life itself, but it is what makes life worth living. We live for Sunday mornings. We live for those life events we used to take for granted. We live for those rituals that seem arcane until we miss them. I missed Ash Wednesday and I can’t get it back…at least not this year.