- As a Catholic religious missionary, the poem, “Footprints on the Sand,” has assisted me through many desert periods of life when things become confused, uncertain, and as dark as the “dark nights of feelings” when one awakens to one’s limitedness and powerlessness.
That poem reminds me that God’s providential care and love are always accompanying us through each moment of our lives and especially what we feel alone and disoriented. Yet, the Divine Presence will never abandon us for even a second. God is actually carrying us in his loving hands walking through the shifting sand of our life. He is carrying the weight of ours and our world’s burdens in his loving embrace.
Our experience of the outbreak of the Corona Virus so close to home makes real our vulnerability and powerlessness. Furthermore, the social distancing that is taking place by the canceling of so many public events and especially the daily masses and Sunday Eucharistic gatherings makes us wonder whether God is present and what is the purpose of Faith.
If the Sacraments are the signs of God’s presence and the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the unity of God’s people, in this period of darkness, fear, and anxiety, where are we to find our consolation when we no longer have access to these sources of the grace of God’s grace-filled Presence?
As faithful Catholic and faith-filled citizens of America and of the whole global community, we need to hold on to the Covenantal Love of God. The incarnational Love of Christ affirms that He is with us to the end of time, that is, he commits to remain with us in and through all of the ups and downs in our lives.
“Nothing can separate us from the Love Christ” is what we need to give witness to in total trust that we express through the little gestures that we extend to each other on a daily basis as evidence of God’s real presence. Our experience of suffering, loss and sickness can themselves bring us together and be occasions for us to show deeper understanding and compassion for one another.
It is a time for us to grow in the awareness that we are not alone. God is with us and we are with each other. It is the virus, itself, that becomes the means for us to come to a greater awareness of our interdependence and our need for one another to create a healthy living environment.
As Pope Francis teaches us, only we can effectively deal with the biological, psychological and spiritual viruses that we are part of the world we live in. In this way we can increase our awareness of our capacity to care for our common home whether at home or globally.
We might say that the Coronavirus has forced us to live in little life-style enclaves closed in ourselves and afraid to touch. But even while we should not make physical contact we can make the spiritual contact with God and each other through the way we smile at each other, reassure each other with hope, and let Him carry us all when we seem most vulnerable.
Father Binh The Quach, C.S.Sp.
Director of the Donald S. Nesti, C.S.Sp., Center for Faith and Culture at St. Thomas University