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Forward or Backward?

We are a full two years into the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have been worn out by the pandemic. We are tired of shutdowns, social distancing, and facemasks as well as the polarization over these. Presently, there is good news! The number of cases has dropped significantly. We give thanks for this and we continue to pray for an end to the pandemic. In the meantime, we pray for people to persevere in taking wise precautions when appropriate to mitigate the spread of the virus.

This brings me to a question I would like to pose as we look to move from pandemic to endemic. Do we want to go back to the way things were or do we want to find a new way forward?

Yes, we are tired of the pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that we mean we should rush to go back to the way things were. Were things perfect before? Is it always better to back to the way things were? Isn’t this one of the arguments that has been discussed in the news as to why Russia has invaded the Ukraine? Apparently, Russia has said that since the Ukraine was once part of Russia, it should be again. We don’t always want to go back to the way things were.

To simply go back to the way things were also ignores the value of what has been learned through the pandemic. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the longer the pandemic goes on, the less we have learned. The more tired of the pandemic we become, the more we just want to go back to the way things were.

What have we learned from the pandemic? Whether we like the precautions of wearing facemasks and social distancing or not, we have learned that we can do it. We pray that we never again face such a health crisis but this pandemic has shown us we can do it. The pandemic also reminds us that the modern world is not immune to the pandemics of the past.

Hopefully, the pandemic has also brought new light to the simple things like hand sanitizing. Hand sanitizing is nothing new with the pandemic. However, how much did we do it before? My experience with hand sanitizing from a number of years ago was that it left my hands wet and sticky for a bit. So, I didn’t use them (I did wash my hands with soap and water). Through the pandemic, I have learned the sanitizers of today are better. Thus, I will continue to sanitize my hands when appropriate even after the pandemic.

I also think of how we have learned new ways to share the faith. Livestreaming of Masses was not new with the pandemic. However, it took on new life. Attending Mass in person is always preferred. In person we can receive Communion. We can more fully participate as part of the community. However, for those who are homebound, livestreaming connects them in ways they were not before.

I also learned how to do presentations via webinar (I have one this Thursday – here is the link to find out more – https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1xTGgPgoR6eSf-b7LPds5A). Again, webinars, as well as online meetings, were not created because of the pandemic but they can help us reach more people in effective ways. When I do a presentation in person, I reach people from one or two parishes. When I do a webinar, I have people attending from at least four different parishes and reaching people in seven counties. Some of these people would have to drive two hours to attend the presentation in person.

While some people have stopped going to church (we pray for them) during the pandemic and show no signs of returning, other people have found them faith made stronger during the pandemic? How is your faith?

It is no secret that opinions are divided on the pandemic. For instance, the issue of mask and vaccine mandates can be controversial. The Coronavirus has shown how polarized we can be. However, the pandemic did not cause the polarization. Unfortunately, we were already becoming polarized, without true dialogue. The pandemic just makes it more obvious. So, again, we shouldn’t want to just go back to the way things were. We pray that God helps us find the way forward. Yes, there are things where maybe we can go back to the way things were. On the other hand, we need to find new ways forward to reconcile the polarization. We need to find ways to deal with the issues behind rioting and protests.

Do I have all the answers?

No.

But I know who does. God. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” I have used this verse before and I will keep using it because I know God has a plan. It is an awesome plan. We ask God to help know what his plan is for us and that we may carry out our part as we pray thy will be done.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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