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This Lent, Jesus took the wheel

As we’ve all felt in innumerable ways, a pandemic changes everything. Our streets are occupied by masked figures deliberately avoiding any form of contact, our news stations blare about quarantine procedures and death tolls, our hospitals are overflowing but understocked, and our schools, churches, and restaurants are closed, empty, and financially unstable. We’re worried about vulnerable friends and family members, all of the regions and countries that have had to take drastic measures to flatten the infection spread curve, and all of the families who are struggling with financial difficulties, the challenges of remote working and learning, and the inevitable household conflicts in which we become entangled while being forced to live in such close quarters for an extended period. Few things are easy, and joy can feel harder to find.

I would like to posit, however, that despite all the challenges and pains, this pandemic has blessed us with a unique opportunity to return to God.

If we consider our pandemic lifestyles from the perspective of our lenten fasts, it seems that whatever our personal resolutions were, God had other plans. Whether we were planning to do so or not, we have all foregone group gatherings, vacations, parties, extracurricular activities, pro sports, recreational sports, concerts, trips to restaurants, movie theaters, and arts shows, and the general freedom to travel, shop, and explore. Our social connections have become heavily dependent on webcams, and we have lost all the little joys of typical campus life.

These things are by no means vicious habits that we should have been weaning ourselves away from, and in fact, many of them foster growth in virtue, but consider: now that they’re gone, what are we left with? Lots of time with our families, an urgent agenda of things to pray for, new crosses to bear that make us exceedingly grateful for the many blessings from which we’re temporarily forbidden, strong senses of solidarity on the communal, national, and global levels, widespread gratitude for the noble work of the healthcare workers and scientists who are risking their own lives trying to save others’, and ample time to pray and reflect on all of these things.

God draws straight with crooked lines.

I’d like to conclude with an anecdote. This Holy Week was a mixture of highs and lows for me. I had an unusual number of migraines, and I had completely lost my sense of smell after catching a virus of some sort (from which I didn’t quite feel completely recovered) two weekends prior. On the other hand, I began to feel more deeply connected than ever to the Mysteries of the Rosary and the daily scripture readings. Praying with them felt like sinking into a warm couch after a long day. Though incomparable in degree, my physical symptoms made Jesus’ passion and Mary’s turmoil feel more real to me, and their joys and glories more uplifting and enlightening. Although the headaches weren’t pleasant, I felt grateful and blessed by the opportunity to enter into a deeper appreciation of their lives, which made their current presence feel more real as well. I believe that this is the type of opportunity with which God is presenting us every day now: our crosses have indeed become more burdensome, but the joy of our Lord’s rising is even sweeter having shared in His passion in new, unexpected ways.

Dan Tully is a freshman concentrating in Behavioral Decision Sciences and sent us this post from Brooklyn, NY.

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