Looking for God in a Pandemic

Never before has our family life more closely resembled the life of a monastery than in these past couple of months. I've always said that there was something to the stability and rhythm of family life that resembled monastic life, but with the local stay-at-home order, I finally experienced another aspect of monastic life - being hidden away from the world.

At the height of the pandemic in our area, I went long stretches without even leaving our property. Eventually, I had to venture out for various reasons, and now the stay-at-home order has been lifted (although, our family is still basically staying at home). Thankfully, our Archdiocese is one of those that didn't close churches, but left at least some of them open for private prayer (including our parish, which is a short walk from our house) and continued to offer Confession. And, having priest friends, we even got to have the occasional opportunity to assist at the private Mass of a priest. We even had one of our favorites visit our Gabriel's grave with us, on his fourth birthday. 

Public Masses have resumed here, but the Sunday obligation dispensation remains, and we're planning on doing our weekly Mass in shifts, at an early morning daily Mass. Our church is little, and even with social distancing, it's too many people in too small of a space for comfort.

Anyway, the point that I'm trying to get at is this - life hasn't been normal. And, did I mention that all the seminarians were sent back to their home dioceses and we weren't even able to say good-bye?

We are healthy. We are in a safe home. We both can work from home and are still receiving paychecks. We already homeschool. And, although we have been somewhat isolated, we have had contact with the few people in our lives that are like family (as well as with the family that lives far away).

So, what reason do we have to complain, right?

Here's the thing that I would tell you, if you were my son or daughter - there is a difference between complaining and between acknowledging when something is just plain hard and you are just plain tired. There are aspects of our family life and our personal suffering that I'm not going to share online. I'm sure that you can say the same. I have yet to meet someone who, upon further investigation, did not turn out to be carrying a heavier cross than I initially suspected.

There is no point in comparing sufferings. Everyone in the whole world is suffering in some way right now. Are some of those sufferings objectively greater than others? Certainly. But I want you to know this - your suffering, no matter how little or big it seems, still matters.

In fact - it matters to Him. It matters to God.

In my own prayer these days, that is something that has surprised me and given me so much consolation. My own private sufferings are not on the scale of the sufferings of so many right now - but they matter to God.

In fact, this is a lesson that I have learned from "contemplation" in my own little domestic monastery.

I have three living children, and their ages range from almost 3 to 9 1/2. Their sufferings and struggles are dramatically different from one child to the next. Some of their sufferings are actually big ones, and some of them ridiculously little. But not getting the juice that she desperately wanted feels like a great suffering to my toddler.  When she sobs, I don't dismiss her with frustration saying, "That's nothing! Don't you see what your big sister is dealing with right now??"

Because, to her...that is a big suffering. It won't still be one when she is 9. But at 2 years old, it is.

The ups and downs of my daughters' lives matter so much to me. I can't compare their sufferings or strengths to each others. What they need from me and their daddy is the reassurance that we see them, we love them, and their suffering matters to us.

And so it is with God, during this pandemic.

I don't understand why this had to happen. But I do know this - God is loving us through this pandemic, and He holds our sufferings close, the way that I hold my daughters' (although more perfectly, because I am certainly not divine).

At some point during the early days of this pandemic, it occurred to me - when Jesus was dying on the cross, bearing the full weight of all the sin and suffering that had ever and would ever occur in the world...He knew about this pandemic. He knew about the suffering that would grip our world in 2020. And He held our sufferings in His heart, as He suffered. They all mattered to Him - everything from the greatest of our sufferings to the least.

You matter to Him. Your little domestic monastery matters to Him. What happens there does not go unseen by Him. He sees it all.

I don't understand the magnitude of the suffering of the world right now, but I know this - in the moments of silence (and noisiness!) in this little domestic monastery, I've realized that He is here.

He is with you, too.


  1. Thanks Michele! I like your articles. May God continue to you bless your writing-hand! Am Marie from Uganda, Africa.


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