Joshua 1:9 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
9 I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.
With a rosary wrapped around her hand she always steps into the Adoration Chapel before Mass. I just know her as Joy. We always greet each other with broad smiles, never making small talk because we have church business to attend to. Joy and her husband are part of a community of daily Mass attendees. Ann-Marie sits three rows ahead of me, and Robert always sits directly in front of me. Virginia usually sits in the same row as me; Mike, a tall Eucharistic Minister, sits almost in the last pew. Mike, Maria, Vickie and I and a handful of others are part of the 6:15 a.m. Eucharistic team. I miss Father John and Father Charles’ homilies, and Glen, who faithfully assists them during weekday Masses.
When I was sick with a cough earlier this year I did not give out communion. I tried to count how many of us attended daily Mass; I lost count at 70. All religious institutions are on a forced sabbatical; no Mass until God knows when. My heart aches because we are unable to receive communion, and I realize we are all suffering the same fate.
Mike and I have taken the Stay-at-home advice from our governor seriously. We have not left our home in over a week. Last Monday, on March 16, before the announcement of the church closing, I went one last time to Adoration as I was scheduled from four to five that evening. Our son has been warning us for days not to go out at all. Our daughter Sonja has nicknamed him “Chicken Little” because his advice is the same for her as it is for us, Mikos is lovingly looking out for our well-being. As I was leaving I told Mike, “Please don’t tell the kids that I’m going to church!” Mike answered, “Ok, but can you swing by the El Pollo Loco drive-through to pick up some chicken?” I was feeling a bit guilty, but I went anyway. The doors to the church were swung open. The natural light clearly showed the reflection of fingerprints on the wooden pews, so before I sat down I took Clorox disinfecting wipes and cleaned the pew in front of me and the one behind me. Before settling down to pray, I looked around to see who else was at Adoration. I counted seven persons; we were all spread apart. I prayed my usual prayers, but this time the burden of the world was on all of our shoulders. My prayers were fervent, and I felt the true comfort of the Lord the entire time I was there.
El Pollo Loco
I left the church refreshed and spirit-filled. Then it happened, my phone rang. I could see that it was our daughter Sonja. I touched the screen to answer the call. Her first question was,”Why are you in the car?” Sonja has a tracker on my phone because I spend so much time with her kids. I could feel the blood rush to my face; my throat dried up when I nervously answered, “I went to Adoration! Please don’t tell your brother!” “Mom, just go home,” she replied. I didn’t dare tell her I was on my way to El Pollo Loco. Then all of a sudden, while I was waiting in the drive-through, I felt my body temperature rising. My forehead felt warmer than usual. Then I started to cough, not just any cough, but a dry cough. I told myself, “I just need to hydrate .” I took some water and started to chug it, but the water got all over my blouse. “Oh my God! Did I get this virus?” By the time I finally reached the window, I had written myself off as a goner.
When I got home, I quietly placed the bag of chicken on the counter. Another cough! I sanitized my hands and grabbed my phone. I remembered seeing a post about the early warning signs of the coronavirus and what we needed to do: gargle with vinegar, warm water and salt. As soon as Mike went to bed I did just that. My self-talk was a rambling dialogue of panic! “Should I sleep with Mike? If I do, we will both be doomed! Should I tell him?” I fell asleep praying. This is a perfect example on how panic sets in, and how our mind runs away with imagination, taking it to new levels of anxiety. Since then I have not gone out.
The hardest part of this Stay-At-Home order is not seeing our grandchildren. On March 19th, we celebrated the 8th birthday of our youngest grandson Jacob. Mike and I had already purchased a gift for him, and Sonja was going to drop off some Chick-fil-A and pick up the gift. The boys wanted to see us. From a good distance we greeted them. Then I lost it and started crying; I cried a good cry. Later I pulled myself together through prayer.
The Holy Spirit gave me a great idea on how to stay connected with all four of my grandkids. For the past week we have been FaceTime praying. I miss their humor because all of my grandchildren are funny. It makes a big difference in our lives to get together like this. The boys impose funny faces over their heads, some not so appropriate. Right before Maddie joins the conversation, her brother accuses her of being unholy. The four of them have been so gracious in praying at 3 o’clock. After this delightful phone call, I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Dear Lord, we are all anxious and pray for this to pass. Just as You did for the Israelites, pass over our household, and keep us safe from this virus. Lord, nothing is impossible for You. We trust in You and know that You will see us through this. We pray for all doctors and nurses and every hospital’s employees. We pray for every person who is tirelessly working in the grocery stores, and for food manufacturers and delivery personnel. We pray for the scientists who are working to find a cure for this virus. We pray for people like my sister Norma, who works in an assisted living facility, and for her daughter Maggie, who is a social worker for the elderly. And for all others, our son Mikos included, who must work to keep this nation afloat. Keep them healthy, Father, and give them special protection and graces to continue to do their jobs. I pray for all those who have been temporarily laid off or who have lost their jobs. Lord, provide for the needs of Your people! Amen.
Philippians 4:6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
6 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.