COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: New Doors Open for Opportunities

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Father David BonnarDuring this time of quarantine, I have exercised every day. In our rectory, we are blessed to have a screened-in porch that serves as a workout room with an elliptical machine, treadmill and stationary bike. The room overlooks the main road in front of the church where one can just watch the world go by. Whether it is cars or pedestrians walking, there is much activity.

It just so happens that this room is nestled next to the main church. As one works on the elliptical, he can see people entering or exiting the doors of the church. What is noteworthy is that almost every day there is someone that tries to enter the Church to make a visit and say a prayer. Even though our churches are locked right now, during this stay-at-home order, people instinctively want to turn to Christ and his Church.

Church doors are not the only ones locked. The doors of malls, stadiums, theaters, schools, universities, spas and salons are closed. Hospitals remain open, but families are unable to visit with sick family members.

On the second day of my self-isolation, I had yet another door close on me. Because of a severe storm with torrential rains and high winds, my cable box blew out. No TV. The options of things to do in this time of isolation suddenly became even more limited.

With all of the doors being closed and locked, I was reminded of the old saying, “When one door closes, another one opens.” This got me thinking of the new doors that were opening up to me.

The first door that emerged for me is that of rest in the way of more sleep. Today I slept in until 9 a.m. I never sleep beyond 6:30 a.m. This extra sleep is a further step in self-care in what is a very stressful time. The other day, I also managed to take a two-hour nap, which is something I seldom if ever do. Perhaps it is God’s way of slowing me down.

The second door that has opened even more for me in this pandemic is exercise. I am very disciplined about exercise, engaging in it at least four times a week. Under the present circumstances, I have been able to exercise every day and, at times, even longer than normal.

The final door that has become wide open for me is prayer. In Psalm 32:7 the psalmist says, “You are my shelter; you guard me from distress.” The same line is translated in the Christian breviary as, “You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from my distress.”

Prayer, most especially the private Mass I pray every day, has become a shelter from the storm. As I enter into that sacred space in the ordinariness of my sitting room, I enter a safe haven where I am fed and comforted. Even though this moment is so private, I know that the whole Church, especially the faithful of my parishes, along with my family and friends and so many others in the world, are gathered because I, as a lowly priest, bring them with me and daily ask Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to lead, feed and protect them.

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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