Remember when the world shut down? How we were held captive by the phantom coronavirus? How fear was what we woke up to and went to bed with? The COVID-19 is still something we need to be cognizant of. My niece Maggie, a social worker from Arizona, came down with the virus; she has since recovered. During nightly prayers our group prayed for over eighty persons, including ten persons with the virus. Five of those persons died as the result of the deadly coronavirus. There are still cases being reported in our community, so, yes, we are still being careful.
Most of us were home and during the first week we lived in our pajamas. I was getting up at 10 a.m. because I felt helpless in this battle. Both my husband and I are in good health, but because of our age we refrained from even essential shopping. We ordered groceries from Target and paid twice the price, our son Mikos and his wife Jenny Costco runs for us, and our daughter Sonja brought us meals. Remember the panic buying? This was also during the daily briefings of Dr.Fauci and Dr. Birx that kept us posted on all the dismal statistics. All I got from this was stay in bed and shut all your windows and doors until this passes over.
Then started all the strange information circulating via Messenger. Do not use ibuprofen or you will surely escalate your imminent death. Or the crazy ways of disinfecting your groceries (I did that for about a week). The messages were coming from all over the world on what to do and what not to do. The dreaded face mask, to wear or not to wear; I’m still not clear on this because it’s ever changing. When we’d hear the mail drop into the slot, Mike and I would look at each other in fear, and in unison say, “It’s your turn!” We handled the mail like a bomb was about to go off, washing our hands immediately afterwards, waiting until all the coronavirus germs fell off. Who knows when that was going to be! We operated in fear because we were glued to the news of when and how we were going to get exposed. Everything we touched , we disinfected. Then the announcement of the scariest week: we were told that the virus would peak and if you are older or have underlying heath issues, do not go out at all! The media put so much fear in us that people were scared to look out their windows. Then on May 22nd the Centers for Disease Control made a stunning announcement: the coronavirus does not spread easily on surfaces. I could have told them that!
This was taking a toll on people like us, who followed the guidelines and stayed home. At first we were told that it may last as long as two weeks; that was quickly raised to 30 days, and so on. This modern-day pandemic was new to everyone, the changes were being made day to day. In the meantime my venial sins were stacking up. I was upset about so many things: not being able to see my grandchildren, our governor telling us to stay home while he vacationed in Wyoming, and the fact that he placed church openings in one of the last phases. I wanted to attend Mass, I needed to go to confession, and I needed a pedicure. The problem with all this was that Mike and I were each other’s only sounding boards, and many times we did not see eye-to-eye.
Finally, after almost 90 days, our church was opening. There were rigid restrictions; confessions were no longer going to be held in the confessional. The parish had purchased some room dividers to allow for safe distancing. I was scheduled to serve at the 10 a.m. Mass. It was a bitter sweet moment because we had to register for the service. But the saddest part was seeing our church more than half-empty. I registered for daily Mass and was elated to hear that confessions were going to take place after every daily Mass. On Monday I unloaded all my unwanted burdens at confession. I was absolved of my sins and given a penance; it truly was a weight off my conscience. Our parish is going through many changes, not only due to the coronavirus but because one of our priests is being transferred to another parish.
I do not want to use the real names of the priests involved, so I will refer to them as Father A and Father B. On Monday I went to Father A for confession, but my normal confessor is Father B, who will soon be leaving our parish. I wanted to be sure to say my goodbyes and to thank Father B for all the effort he put into our parish. You can’t call the parish office because the workers are still on furlough. So I came up with an ingenious idea: I would go to Father B for confession. The following day Father B did the homily, and at the end of the service announced that he would be hearing confessions after Mass. He pointed to the Adoration Chapel. After Mass we were instructed to leave unless we were going to confession. I exited the church and came back in for confession, closed my eyes and prayed. I waited and noticed that no one was in line, so I got in line where I thought Father B was.
I was nervous because part of the opening prayer is: “Bless me, father, for I have sinned. My last confession was…” I had to tell the truth, “One day ago.” I said the prayer and the priest was surprised when I said one day ago.”One day ago!” he exclaimed. “Yes, Father,” I answered, but it did not sound like Father B. I tried to peek through the tiny slats of the partitions and I discovered it was Father A! When I confessed the same sins as the day before, Father A called me out. “But you confessed that yesterday.” “I know, but I can’t get past it,” I lied. At this point I was in too deep, and it all went south from there. The more I tried to explain, the worst the situation became. I told Father A that I do not normally come to confession everyday. “I hardly come.” Another lie. By this time all credibility was out the window. Father A graciously absolved me of the same sins from the day before. This incident will go down as one of the many embarrassing moments of my life.
It is so important to go to confession on a regular basis, but most Catholics do not take advantage of this Sacrament. Confession helps us to rely on God to rid us of our sins. The Sacrament of Confession helps us to fight our faults and shortcomings; it helps us break the bad habits. Going to confession removes all guilt from sin and cleanses our soul. The sins no longer have power over us. Reconciliation helps us to become more like Jesus, giving us the spirit of humility, generosity, patience, and, most importantly, love. Every time we go to confession we are being strengthened to fight temptation. When was your last confession?
Walk the Talk
There have been evil spirits unleashed in the atmosphere. Oppression is its name. It is a type of pollution with an assignment from Hell to bring you down spiritually. This type of oppression is designed to muffle our voices so that we can no longer speak the truth. God gave me a voice, and I will use it until my dying day. I will spread the Word of God without restraints. I will move mountains in my lifetime because I have been called to make a difference. I am moving ranks in the Army of God, and with each battle comes another attack. Please come alongside me in praying that the Truth will set the world free.
John 14:6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
On Sunday I was able to say a proper good-by to Father B, he will be greatly missed.