After two weeks plus post hospital rest, I had
a follow-up visit with my personal physician who informed me I had been much
sicker and closer to death than I had understood. So now the duty of the moment
is to do the necessary for the physical, emotional, and spiritual rehab.
the hermitage I am once again able to celebrate Holy Mass, receive Holy
Communion, pray the Divine Offices, the Holy Rosary etc., and spend time with
gifts of encounter and companionship with Jesus give purpose and meaning to our
lives as His disciples.
Scripture is the living, active, loving, voice of the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit, source of insight, understanding, guidance, comfort, particularly
when we are in pain, confusion, or in the heat of the battle of spiritual
warfare: Because He Himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able
to help those who are being tested. [Hb.2:18]
words, such as from Hebrews above, are spoken to the entire human family, it is
crucial we hear the words personally, thus: able to help me while I am
months now the entire human family has been, is being, tested in a manner few
saw coming and in a manner which confronts us with how extraordinarily little,
if any, control we actually have over how life unfolds.
pandemic has gone on long enough, is virulent enough, that every corner of the
earth, every nation, every family, each of us is impacted.
midst of all this with the psychological, spiritual, economic devastation that
is increasingly part of the suffering, with so many people out of work with
lots of time on their hands social unrest – sometimes under the guise of
agitating for a more just society, sometimes just to rebel against things like
social distancing – has become in places part of daily life.
as throughout history from the beginning, the vast majority of our brothers and
sisters, day in and day out, seek only to live lives that focus on raising a
family, being kind to one another, praying and loving as children of God, that
same majority is, frankly, deeply confused, even frightened, certainly
exhausted as this pandemic and its attendant disruption of ‘ordinary life’
with intellectual curiosity, creativity, imagination we human beings over the
millennia have developed systems of communal living, agriculture, medicine,
science, art: in a word we are creative, problem solvers, and intently seekers
of the ‘why’, the favourite question of small children!
this pandemic with this particular virus at this time in history?
longer it takes for finding a definitive, or at least somewhat clarifying
answer or for
to discover a vaccine, and for ‘normal’ life to resume, the greater the
psychological, socio-familial toll within the human family and on each one of
stint of serious illness has taught me anything, above and beyond the
importance of family, their love, the power of their prayer and that of loving
friends, it is to accept – hopefully with no small degree of humility: “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were
younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow
old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead
you where you do not want to go.” [Jn.21:18]
in the first instance this is Jesus directly telling Peter in his old age he
will be martyred for Christ – and tradition tells us when the time came in Rome
for Peter to be crucified in his humility he asked to be crucified upside down,
not believing himself to be worthy of being crucified in the same manner as
Jesus – there is another dimension to Jesus’ word to Peter, namely the personal
word to each of us.
us will not be taken away and martyred, however this pandemic is to
experience ‘being led where we do not
want to go’.
pandemic certainly is to experience, irrespective of our age, a being dressed
NOT by ourselves or with our own clothing but by governments with the
restrictive clothing of isolation and myriad other ever changing regulations
and being led into an abnormal daily life with all the attendant stress,
will come a time, a day, in our lives when the being taken/led to death will
indeed be entering into the experiential truth of: In My Father’s house there are many
dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to
prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come
back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be. [Jn.14:2,3].
In that moment when Jesus Himself has come for us we will surrender to the
ultimate experience of: Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened, and
I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek
and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is
easy, and My burden light. [Mt. 11:28-30]. For having lived this out
faithfully each day, embracing Jesus’ yoke and burden, true rest will be Jesus
taking us from the nomadic tent of chronological time into the home of His and
our Father, there to dwell in the depths of true rest which is communion of
love with the Most Holy Trinity.
now and then, bearing the cross of this pandemic, we must ask the help of the
Holy Spirit and Our Blessed Mother so as not to be enmeshed in the media-hype,
their obsession with body counts, infection counts, nor to fall into the
burning tar pit of real or imagined theories about the origins of all this or
how long it will last or the myriad of issues which suddenly dominate against
the background of the pandemic, disturbingly distracting us from the
unchangeable, which should be our comfort and joy, namely faith, love, family,
and that hope which never fails for, like truth, it is the assurance of living
in union with our Beloved who assures us He is indeed our way, truth, life.
[cf. Jn. 14:6]
is mucking around with peoples’ emotions and fears as he always does, he is
messing around with the media, governments, and sowing disruption and confusion
everywhere and information overload, much which information is of debatable
accuracy, for he is a liar.
disciples of Christ, we should ask for the grace to do as Our Blessed Mother
did when Herod’s death squads were after Jesus, when Jesus left home and was
away for most of the last three year’s of His life and Mary, undoubtedly Her
motherly heart aching and missing Him, endured His absence, until it was time
to witness His suffering on the Cross, to accept becoming Our Mother, then
between Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost She
held those in the Upper Room together, until they were empowered by the Holy
Spirit after which, on earth at the heart of the Church until Her assumption,
and now from heaven for each of us as Mother, She is penultimate icon of being
faithful disciples of Christ: [In the Gospel for Christmas], only one thing
is said about the Mother of God: she “kept all these things, reflecting on them
in her heart” (Lk. 2:19)……What were these things? They were joys and
sorrows: on the one hand the birth of Jesus, the love of Joseph, the visits of
the shepherds, that radiant night. But on the other hand: an uncertain future;
lack of shelter, “because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk. 2:7); the
desolation of rejection; the disappointment of having to give birth to Jesus in
a stable. Hopes and anxieties, light and shadow: all these things settled
in the heart of Mary. And she, what did she do? She reflected on them,
meaning that she went over them with God in her heart. She did not keep
anything for herself, close anything off in solitude or smother it in
bitterness; she brought everything to God. That is how she kept these things.
Giving things up is how to keep them: not allowing life to fall prey to fear,
to discouragement or superstition, not closing oneself off or seeking to
forget, but making everything a dialogue with God. And God, whose heart is set
on us, comes to dwell in our lives. 
the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our Mother, showing us by Her own doing so first
for us, how to endure and be faithful, to trust and have hope during this
pandemic and beyond, with Her help, bringing everything to the Holy Trinity,
speaking all that is on our hearts and listening, for in the listening we
experience we are beloved and that all will be well.
MARIA, The Mystery Of A Most Beloved Prayer; Pope Francis; pp. 90-92; Penguin
Random House 2019 ~ [italics and highlighting mine]
Fr. Arthur Joseph