COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: Walking through the Liturgical Year

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Father David BonnarMany years ago when I was a young priest, I remember having to drive from Pittsburgh to Scranton, Pennsylvania, for a gathering of diocesan vocation directors. Although the drive took place in the spring season, I found myself experiencing virtually every season during that four-hour drive.

Indeed, it was spring as evidenced by the buds on the tree and the presence of robins. There were even some March-like winds and April showers. At one point, the sky was painted in all blue with a bright sun shining like a warm summer’s day. As I got closer to my destination and ascended the mountain on the interstate, I could feel fall-like temperatures. Then, to top it all off, there was a short bout with snow. What a ride!

Almost a month ago, our lives changed drastically as a result of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much like that ride of years ago, we have experienced every season under the sun — the promise of spring, the heat of summer, the harvest of fall and the death of winter.

The case could also be made that this global pandemic has walked us through the entire liturgical year in just a matter of weeks. For example, while this is not a normal time there are nonetheless aspects to our day that have become so ordinary. Whatever sense of the ordinary remains in our lives, the call remains the same — namely, to know God and to do his will.

The fasts from normalcy, among other things, many of which have been imposed upon us, have made this a desert experience even more real than most Lents. I am sure that, at one time or another in these days, we have had our own “Good Friday” moments echoing many of the last words of Jesus.

But there have also likely been those Easter moments of joy, peace and hope. These are times when light has prevailed over darkness, grace over sin, and life over death.

Nestled in all of these days there also has been some Advent-like waiting in joyful hope for good news — restrictions to be lifted, the resumption of some sense of normal life and a vaccine to protect all from this invisible evil.

And, yes, even in this ordeal, there have been some Christmas moments in which a child is born (I know of two of them), gifts are exchanged among family, friends and neighbors, strangers are welcomed and fed, and the presence of Christ is so evident.

While it may appear as though time is standing still during this pandemic, the reality is that we are experiencing parts of each liturgical season every day. What a ride! It sure is heartwarming to know that regardless of the season God is always with us. Nothing can change that, not even a pandemic.

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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