EDITOR’S NOTE: The Herald recently reached out to clergy members across the community, requesting they submit letters of prayer or words of encouragement for Herald readers.
Vince Lombardi said: “After all the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty … the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.” Sports have become such an important part of our culture and all those arenas shut down first. Then the churches closed. Not to mention bars and restaurants. Never in our lifetime have we experienced such a thing. Now it is up to us to do the right thing … let us do “with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.” Let us heed what we are being told about the novel COVID-19 virus. Let us hunker down with our families and our God.
In the Catholic Church, pope after pope have said that the way of the world, the way of the church, goes by the way of the family. We all know our family life needs attention. Let’s ponder what we can do intentionally so that when this pandemic is over, we will freely choose to live differently our family life. Research has shown that families that eat together, pray together, play together and go to church together are so much healthier than those who don’t. (Barna Research Group).
As Christians, we are never without hope. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Soon we will be celebrating the essence of our faith, Easter, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, the faithful departed and hopefully one day our own resurrection. And whether we are able to worship together in our churches or in our home churches, Easter will happen, and that gives us hope! Thomas Merton said it well: “It is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.”
Psalm 46:1 reads: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is with us in these trying times, we only need to “be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10).
I share with you a prayer I pray every night before I go to bed: “Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring. The same loving God who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. God will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” St. Francis de Sales.
As we endure this pandemic, let us do our very best to make the world a better place and to lean into a deeper relationship with our loved ones and a God who is always present, loving and merciful!
Msgr. Mike Foltz is pastor of Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks; Holy Trinity, Tabor, Minn.; and St. Francis Assisi, Fisher, Minn.