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COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: Keeping the Faith in Hard Times

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Father David BonnarIn all of our lives there will inevitably be hard times. Some of these will be personal. And then there are those that will be more corporate, involving a large segment of the population. For example, there was the Depression, World War I and World War II, just to name a few. All of these events affected countless people.

When I was a kid I vividly remember the energy crisis. Schools were closed and gas was rationed. There were also the attempted assassinations of President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. And then there was the event of 911, which claimed thousands of lives and momentarily brought the world to a pause. Air traffic was stopped. Sports and entertainment were suspended as the world wondered what would be next. More recently, the darkness of clergy sexual abuse has been something catastrophic for so many. All of these events point to hard times and the need for faith.

These painful moments, along with our own personal hard times, will be forever a part of our history. Hopefully, we have embraced these realities in a way that makes us stronger but ever so more dependent on God, not to mention more appreciative of faith, family and health.

Right now, we are nestled deep in a very hard time, unlike any other in our recent history. There are so many stories of struggle, loss and heartache. This universal event has so many personal overtones. I don’t know of anyone who has not been affected in some way by this travesty.

In my own situation, I remain in quarantine. On the third day, it was really getting to me. The flood of emails from family, parishioners and friends was like a tidal wave of love. I have never felt so loved at a time, paradoxically, when I am so isolated.

Interestingly enough, inside the emails was one from a family who did a personal video for me. They wanted to say hello and to let me know that they missed me and missed going to holy Mass. They shared that they have been doing much baking and praying. In fact, every day, they have been praying the Rosary together. What was so touching to me is that every time they pray, one of the little ones goes to the picture window and paints it with different colors as if it were a stained-glass window. Al, the father, said, “I think it shows how much my daughter misses Church.”

I think it says even more. As you know, the family is “the first church,” the domestic church. This little girl is just formalizing what already exists for her and her family. Their house is not just a home. It is a church.

The video was a little over a minute. It is amazing how in just one minute faith can be shared and the spirits of those who are downtrodden can be lifted high — the hard times are momentarily softened. Today, I thank God for the Church, especially those little churches, like the D’Allo family, those “first churches” that are the living stones of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 15 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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