One Year Later - A COVID Reflection
It is a Thursday evening. Parents and students are browsing through my classroom. It is supposed to be a night for updating parents on how the school year is going. Light music is playing. There is some chitchat, but it is done more as a distraction. I hear many people deciding to go to the local Midget AAA playoff hockey game afterwards. May as well get in one last event before… what? We don’t know what, but whatever it is, it is about to change our lives.
The next Monday there is no school. Instead we have meetings. We teachers sit through two hours of “new health protocol” information being thrown our way. It all seems so useless, and everyone in the room knows it. A waste of precious time. We all understand what is coming. Finally, the meeting abruptly ends with the following announcement:
Schools will be shut down in our province. There are three days to prepare.
I must admit that while other teachers held out hope that school would return last spring, I was brutally realistic. I packed up my entire classroom before that final day of work on March 19, 2020. If this virus spreads like other viruses, well… it’s not just going to go away in a few weeks. Right?
That day, March 19, 2020, was quite significant. It was St. Joseph's Feast Day. After a year of planning, and even a short parental leave, I had worked my way up to a job interview with another school division, and was anxiously waiting to hear back from them. My family and I were desperate to move close to a traditional Latin Mass. Well, to be shut down from work, and Mass, was as clear a sign as any. "Don't go anywhere! Hang tight!" our good saint was saying to us.
It is a year later. Right now I am preparing for another day of teaching. Yes, it is good to be back at school, in person, despite the insane COVID protocols which, truth be told, do nothing. "Wear masks! Touch your face three times a minute, because it is uncomfortable, and then touch everything around you. Now take the mask off and eat your food!" Whatever.
COVID has been pretty well non-existent in my town. Many surmise that a dreadful "flu" was going around in late February/early March last year. It's true. The flu knocked out all but 3 of my students in one week. But everyone recovered. And yet, COVID just won't come to us, though we continue to prepare for it. In fact, I went through one year of absolute madness, and still did not know a single person to get it. It wasn't until two days ago that I heard of a man who has it that I vaguely know. I delivered building supplies to him some 15 years ago when I worked at a lumber yard. That's as close as COVID has come. It may still come yet.
What strikes me is the fear and control. No one wants to get sick, or die. But our fear of being unhealthy is... unhealthy to say the least. COVID has shown us many things. Namely, that we are Godless.
To which I offer one final reflection on this past year which has changed our lives. I think of the Church's response. Dreadful. Appalling. Scandalous. Sacraments are unessential. Mask up! though we sit on the other end of the church from the nearest person. Online Masses and perfect acts of contrition are offered as easy replacements! Hardly. But the worst part of this past year, undoubtedly, was being denied Confession for a three month stretch. It's difficult to forgive this, but forgive I must. For how can I seek God's forgiveness, and not bestow it likewise?
The Church will suffer greatly from the fall-out of COVID. And so it should. As for my family's Latin Mass desires? It's a mess. A big, horrendous mess. We haven't been to one in over five months. The TLM community has been tossed around, and now kind-of, sort-of, resides in one of the ugliest church/gymnasiums the Earth has to offer. It is heartbreaking to the extreme, with not a hope of revival in sight. Though I note that still, STILL!, families keep inquiring steadily to join the TLM. The devil has his tail stuck in things, but God will remove it in His time, and the revival of the Church will be dramatic.
And so I end this piece. It is jumbled, but that is on purpose. The entire year has been jumbled. The world isn't getting any less stupid either. Stay close to God. I am comforted by something Fr. Ripperger said recently. The famed exorcist stated that it's almost impossible to perform a complete exorcism on someone right now, because the graces needed, which must flow from the Church, are virtually nil. BUT, he said that the graces flowing to individual families right now, the ones seeking to remain faithful despite the suffering, are at unfathomable levels. Grace is pouring bountifully on the suffering flock. Take heart! Thanks be to God.
We sure need it.