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Faith in a Roaring Wave

The faithful are counting on us to keep the faith front and center

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Father David BonnarIf you have ever been to the ocean, then you know how fierce a wave can be. A roaring wave can literally take someone down. Most of us have never faced the force of a devastating wave. Such a wave pales in comparison to the huge wave rolling across the globe right now. The novel coronavirus pandemic is a wave like none other. Already it has wreaked great havoc on the world as well as our lifestyle. What is more, thousands of people have succumbed to this crushing and invisible wave. And the wave just keeps coming.

When I was a little boy and faced those small but scary waves of life — like rejection, defeat and loss — I always could go to mom for comfort and strength. Mom would often say, “Where is your faith?” That is a good question for us all to ponder now. “Where is our faith?”

As ministers of Jesus Christ, our flocks need us and our faith more than ever before. Even though we cannot see them, and they cannot see us, they are counting on us to keep the faith front and center.

The cancellation of public Masses has made this task more challenging, but, even more, urgent. How are you keeping the faith in this tumultuous time?

One of the ways my parochial vicars and I have been trying to continue the mission of the Church is by using technology. A day after our public Masses were officially canceled, we went live on YouTube to interact with our people. Using the chapel that once was home to the Sisters of St. Joseph we live streamed the holy Mass. We have been praying the Mass every day at noon with our faithful. Every time we elevate the host and lift the chalice we remember them. The feedback we have received is that they are most appreciative. They are also remembering us. We also have provided the Liturgy of the Hours, the Divine Mercy chaplet and Stations of the Cross. Every evening at 7 p.m. we pray the Rosary with our flock.

Right now this is how we are being the Church. It is a new and different kind of ministry of presence. But it is a presence marked by a noticeable absence. I truly miss interacting with the faithful and walking with them through the many dyings and risings of life. This is definitely a different kind of accompaniment.

I don’t know about you, but it is for me a deeper experience of priestly fraternity. I live with three other priests, and we have become family. We are unable to go home to see our families. During this time, we have had some really thought-provoking conversations. I am grateful for their presence. At the same time, I really feel for those brothers who live alone. This must be a true desert experience.

Another thing Mom would often say when, as a kid, I was buried in a wave was, “David, count your blessings.” This is a time of high anxiety. Many of us are worried about our flocks. We are concerned about one another.

In times of anxiety the great antidote is gratitude. Given that we all have more time on our hands, it is an opportune moment to make our prayer more centered on gratitude. Even in the midst of these towering waves that can engender so much worry and fear, we have much to be grateful for. The more faith we wrap around this experience, I believe, the more we will see God’s abundant blessings. It is a dark time, but the light of Christ continues to shine. He is in the boat of the Church with us, promising to calm us all in the face of this incredible storm.

In that spirit of calm, we at The Priest seek to serve and comfort you. We have reworked this issue at the 11th hour to provide insight on very timely topics such as spiritual communion, celebrating Mass without a congregation, bells that ward off evil, the economic impact of the crisis and self-care at a critical time. Together we need to stay above this wicked wave and continue living out our priesthood and being the Church of Christ for the world. Stay well.

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. To share your thoughts on this column or any others, email us at Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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