Living ‘the new normal’

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | August 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Back in March, there was little awareness that in August, facial masks would be a familiar sight and that much of the daily routine would still be based at home. The uncertainty grows, with particular attention to the start of a new school year. All the while, the economic and social impact of the pandemic unfolds with a steady march toward a still undefined “new normal.”

It is relatively certain that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. It is also true to say that the crisis will not really be over until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed. There is the concern that there will be a new way of living that will not change even with a vaccine.

Father Charles Lachowitzer

Father Charles Lachowitzer

One of the hallmarks of the past century has been that the threats of the natural world have been abated. The environment around us is “outside,” and whether in offices, cars or homes, our comfort does not depend on the weather or an ample supply of firewood. The awareness of the fragility of life, once a daily challenge to merely survive, has faded, and we can live as though sickness, disease and death are exceptions to “normal” life. Some of us know someone who has tested positive, or became ill or even died from the coronavirus. Almost all of us know someone, or have experienced ourselves, a whole range of threats to our well-being, whether cancer, heart attacks, strokes or whatever malady makes the fragility of life a far more present part of our lives than we would like to imagine.

Prayers and words of support for others bring comfort and consolation. Nonetheless, the explanations for why this crisis happened or how it happened or when it will be over seems to fall into a whole range of opinions that, unfortunately, can be light on facts and heavy on personal viewpoints. For those who lean toward data-based decision-making, it is further frustrating when the “experts” do not agree on the cause and what to do about it.

Our forebears have given countless examples of persevering with faith, hope and love, no matter the why’s, how’s or when’s of whatever chapter of death’s shadow came across their lives. Throughout the stories of the saints — particularly the martyrs — the worse the circumstances, the better the witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as peace is more than merely the absence of war, so, too, is the joy of life a greater spiritual gift than the elimination of woes. If we become so preoccupied with the political or economic or ideological debates that we justify divisiveness, then joy is clouded and gratitude is muted.

Few of us expected that August would be yet another month of living life differently. But for the disciples of Jesus, we should all expect that faith is not always easy. We should know that hope needs to be a more virtuous practice than simply wishful thinking. We ever seek to more deeply understand that love is a mandate in the worst of times and not just an emotional reaction to the best of times.

The mercy and forgiveness of Jesus are daily reminders that our love for one another must be the same — a love that is bigger than sin; a joy-filled hope and trust in God that is greater than whatever threat there is to our pursuit of happiness; a faith that is a greater light leading us through whatever darkness brings night to the soul.

Our true “new normal” is a life of conversion. A new day that dawns each and every time we pray, worship and celebrate the person and real presence of Jesus Christ. Whenever we go through tough times, we do not always have to go somewhere deep inside to draw from a dwindling reservoir of persistence. Grace is God’s gift to us to strengthen faith, hope and love, especially when the powers of sin and evil weaken our resolve.

Through our baptism, we began a “new normal,” a new day every day with hearts open to grace. By that same grace, we pursue the virtues and persevere in service with a joyful spirit. The Christian life is not defined by what is happening in the world around us. That is just contemporary context. The Christian life is defined by our ascent of faith, openness to grace and our relationship with Jesus Christ. We need not fear a change in our ways of life. As disciples, we seek change. Lifelong conversion. A new day every day and a “new normal” as a way of life.

In the words of Annie Johnson Flint, from a plaque given to me at my ordination:

“God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.

God has not promised the sun without the rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way,

grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy and undying love.”

 

Viviendo “la nueva normalidad”

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Category: Only Jesus