19 March 2020

Girl Up, Already! Combatting Fear with the Cross of Beloved Jesus Christ.

Tonight, because I can’t (read: won’t) sleep, I’m going to take some time to sit and work through my over-abundant anxiety and attempt to write. I sat here and carefully listened to a couple of homilies from Fathers of Mercy priests. Both of these beautiful homilies really got me where I live, and where I’ve been for a long time.

While I was listening to them, I’ve been sitting here thinking a lot – too much, let’s be honest, yeah? - and decided to clear out my e-mail. I came across a few things that got me really to pause and say, ‘Ohhhh…’

Specifically two newsletters that I follow, one was from a gal that is a fellow Catholic that shared her very real feelings about how she was heartbroken about the Mass no longer being publicly accessible right now, but she knew that the world can’t stop because things are in such a state of chaos and uncertainty. She shared a quote she found from St Catherine of Siena, ‘Start being brave about everything.’

I promise you, I could hear St Catherine, herself, say to me, ‘Rea! What on earth do you think you’re doing, panicking about this whole thing? Don’t you remember Who you serve?! Don’t you remember He’s bigger than all of this? Did you somehow forget that He’s not blind to what’s happening on earth? GIRL-UP, ALREADY!’

You know what? I’m going to take her advice. I’m going to girl-up.

Now, a little further down, there was another e-mail that was nestled in that talked about there’s still good things going on, we just aren’t noticing them because of how scary things are – and this is okay.

I’m not going to directly quote this person’s email, but I’m going to follow the example and focus on a litany of good things that’s going on currently, things we need to stop and take stock and remember, ‘There’s a lot of scary things happening, yes, absolutely, but what about the good things still available to us to enjoy?’

Children still find things to laugh about. My great-nephew, he’s a little over a year old, I spoke with his Mommy earlier tonight and I could hear him laughing, playing, and giggling in the background. At one point, she put the phone up to him so he could be part of the conversation. I was able to talk to him, to tell him I love and miss him terribly, but it was good to talk to him. He has no idea what’s going on in the world, he has no idea how ugly things are at present; all he knows is he’s loved and he knows that he’s safe.

We still have the gift of learning. Yes, the CDC is working as hard and as quickly as they can to find a vaccine for this virus that’s set our world ablaze with pain and uncertainty, but they’re trying. God has given us brains to use, intellect, and these amazing people are trying so hard to save lives.

We still have the gift of technology, so we can still keep in touch and keep tabs on our loved ones, even though ‘social distancing’ is strongly encouraged. We can’t physically enjoy our loved ones’ company, but you know what? We’re forgetting that we have something really cool to enjoy: We have video chat so we can see each other face-to-face, but in a different way.

We have an entire extended family of Saints praying for us, probably now more than ever before. I promise you, all of Heaven’s likely resounding with the prayers of the faithful on our behalf. We need to be grateful that we have armies and armies and armies of angels and Saints who love us so much to talk to our Beloved Lord, to beg for His mercy on our behalf! Most especially we have our Mama who’s going to Him and saying, ‘Son, they need You.’

We have a great big God Who isn’t blind, at all, to what’s happening. Nor is He deaf to our cries of, ‘Help us, Lord, please!’ He wants to help us, He wants us to let Him in so He can clean our wounds out and do what we aren’t able to do for ourselves. His statement in the Gospels, ‘Come to Me, all you who are heavy-laden. I will give you rest.’ It’s not just a simple statement to say, ‘I love you, and I want to help you,’ it is absolutely and undeniably a COMMAND. He’s saying, ‘GET OVER HERE, GIVE IT TO ME, AND LET ME DO THIS FOR YOU!

We have the gift of music. Let me tell you, I’ve been playing the guitar for only a little over a year now. I’m not super good at it, no, but it’s been a wonderful ‘brain break’ escape for me. Not only that, I’ve been listening to an eyebrow-raising amount of music lately. I love music, of course, but even moreso now because it’s a fantastic distraction.

There’s still the gift of movies – show of hands: how many of y’all still own DVDs and Blu-Rays? Anyone? Come on, don’t be shy. ;) I do, too. Years ago, when I was starting completely over again, I didn’t have many films or books to turn to at first, but my collection of books has vastly grown, and I’ve got a decent little collection of movies to watch that don’t require an internet connection. And these collections continue to grow – thanks to friends who know how much of an avowed nerd I am.

We have the gift of friendship. We all have each other to still rely on when things are getting really bad. For example, this thing with COVID-19 has had all of us all kinds of anxious and messed up in the head, right, but for me personally, I’ve got three people I know I can reach out to and say, ‘I am not okay, can I talk to you?’ and by the end of the call, we’re laughing and talking about ‘when this clears up...’ and we’re making plans to do something together.

The sun still rises, we still have the gift and beauty of nature. Our Beloved Lord continues to bless us with the artwork of Creation to enjoy everyday. Sure, we can’t enjoy giving each other a hug, we can’t enjoy the physical proximity of friends to share a coffee with, but we do have the gift of being able to look out the window and see trees, grass, and if you’re like me, watching the rain is relaxing, too. It’s calming to hear raindrops on the window when we’re trying to settle down for a nap. We still have the gift of hearing the animals.

My friend/mentor and I were talking yesterday I think it was, and I made the comment about how this situation is making me realize that since I’ve been considering the hermit life (and I have, yes, seriously, I have), this is a great way for me to experience what that’s going to be like, maybe even prepare me for such a life, just… when I go through with it, I won’t have neighbours in close proximity, and that’s fine. I grew up in the country, so not having super-close neighbours isn’t something I’m foreign to experiencing. So the hermit life… isn’t something that’s going to be a waste for me. As an introvert, ‘social distancing’ isn’t too difficult for me, because I still have the phone to reach out to people if I need to, but for the most part, I’m cool with sitting here and writing or just doing some reading – which I’m fixing to go do after I finish writing this – and I’m not at all bothered about that. What I am bothered about is all the extroverted people I know, they’re likely climbing the walls these days, how frustrated they must feel, how cut off from the world. Sorry, y’all.

We still have the gift of art! Paintings, sculptures, even graphic designs all still exist for our enjoyment. Again, music is still a thing to enjoy, too. So are the gifts of board games – someone had to come up with those inventions – God bless em! - so we can sit with our families and enjoy some good family time together. Sure, we’re all stuck at home, and sure, we’re all sick of the same four walls that have now become more of a necessity now than ever before, but there’s the gift of togetherness that we’ve taken for granted so much that this is giving us an opportunity to really appreciate again.

Honestly, this is a chance for us to reconnect with our Beloved Lord, too… It’s no coincidence (let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a coincidence!) that this was to happen during Lent. Our Lord went to the desert for us. He led us by example. It was no accident that He was led by the Spirit to the desert. This is time to sit down and really re-evaluate our relationship with Him. This COVID-19 situation… this is our desert, y’all. There’s not as many distractions now, right? What’s wrong with reconnecting with Him and with our Mama?

Yes, we’re all terrified. Yes, there’s people we’ve got concerns about, very real concerns. Honestly, though we are physically not able to be with those we love, but we can be with them through prayers for their safety and well-being that we can’t physically fend off for them. We can invite our Beloved Lord into the equation – and we most definitely should – to do what He wants to do for us.

Our Lord loves us, so fiercely, He’s absolutely thrilled when we come to Him and say, ‘I can’t.’ He loves it when we hand our stuff over and let Him take over.

As I sit here and write this, it’s now 4.24 in the morning on Thursday morning. Why am I still awake? Because I don’t want to sleep. The conversations I’ve had throughout the day have been very real nightmare fuel, and when I close my eyes, because I’m a writer, I have a too-vivid imagination, and it’s hard to just shut that off so I can go to sleep. So, rather than allow my brain to torture me while I’m trying to sleep at night, I’ve decided to do something productive. I’m sitting here taking a very real, very deep stock of my life as it is presently. Am I scared? Oh, you bet I am! I’ve no shame in admitting such. I’ve been an emotional mess for days, and it’s only getting more and more intense by the moment, but you know what? I’m trying to sit here and remember what I cannot control, my Jesus is DEMANDING that I give all of this to Him to take care of it.

Last week, my friend/mentor stopped by to help me restring my guitar. When he came by, he’d also brought some treasures with him: some gorgeous books to read – honestly, you don’t have a true friend if that person doesn’t enable your hobbies in some way! - and a few pieces of religious art. One of those treasures is something called a ‘Worry Cross,’ and I promise you, I carry this around with me more than a small child does a favourite toy. If I start to feel too scared, I pick it up and hold it to me. I know that that is a symbol of what our Beloved Lord did for us and it reminds me that no matter how bad things get, I can hide in the shadow of that Cross and know that His Pain He Suffered for us, we can bind ours to His and He’ll come running to wrap us up in His Sacred Heart and keep us safely hidden.

Reader, I’m going to sign off with the reading from the Marian devotional that my friend/mentor gave me the other day. Today is the Feast of St Joseph, her spouse, the patriarch of the Holy Family. In this time of fear and confusion, let’s turn to him and ask for his intercession.

JOSEPH … did as the angel … had commanded him and took Mary as his wife. He did not know her until she brought forth a Son, and he called Him Jesus. - Matthew 1.24-25

REFLECTION. The Church is indebted to Mary because it is Mary who gave the Church her King, Jesus Christ.

After the Blessed Virgin, it is to St Joseph that the Church owes the most gratitude and veneration. -St Bernardine of Siena

PRAYER. O Mary, you loved Joseph and depended on him as the head of the Holy Family at Nazareth. Help me to have a great devotion to him and to call on him in times of doubt and fear.

Let’s not forget that we’re not alone, even and especially when it feels dark and scary. Jesus is our Light, He is our Rock. He wants us to come to Him, He wants to help. Let’s turn to Him and with arms wide open, embrace His Most Sacred Heart. Listen to Him when He tells us, ‘Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden. I will give you rest.’ It’s not a simple request. It is a COMMAND. Even though things are dark and scary, let’s rest in Him, let Him take care of all the big stuff, and do what He asks of us. He won’t lead us into situations He won’t be right there with us, carrying us through.

This COVID-19 thing is absolutely the essence of nightmares, it’s the plague of our times, but we need to use this time wisely; we can turn to Him and let Him heal us. He can heal our brokenness, He wants to embrace us.

He is there for us, and He is allowing this to happen during Lent so we can see that our ‘social distancing’ from each other is a great time to embrace the One Who won’t be harmed by the contagions that are so dangerous. He sees us, He hears us, He loves us. He is there for us. He’s given us some amazing things to remember that He’s in charge.

We need to step back, we need to come to Him and rest in Him.

COVID-19 is a pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen in a long, long time, on earth, but let’s let our faith be an even bigger pandemic and extinguish the flames of our fear and set our hearts ablaze with confidence in our Beloved Lord Who wants so desperately to heal our disease of sin.

Come to Him and rest in Him. He isn’t requesting this. He is COMMANDING it of us.

We are loved far beyond our finite comprehension. It’s up to us to accept that love, and let our Beloved Lord once again show us how much.

I gotta go. My cat’s been bugging me about sleep for the last several hours. ;)

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