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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

Last week we inaugurated a new Message Series on the Harvest Principle… you reap what you sow; and it is always later; and it is always greater. This fundamental ground rule for life we see manifest in many ways. In our gardens, in our families, in our relationships. But probably the best place to begin with the principle is by looking in the mirror, starting with ourselves and the way we have the power to shape our habits and our character.

I read a great book on habits earlier in the pandemic, called The Power of Habit, and it made me realize how little things that changed in my life were having ripple effects. Regular trips to the gym that stopped; meetings with friends that went virtual; so many pieces of my life shifted, changed, stopped and that was affecting my habits. The pandemic has shaken up a lot of people’s lives and ways of doing things. So much is different. Our priorities have changed. And almost everything that affects habits eventually crosses over to character. What we do shapes who we are.

On the one hand, our new reality makes life more difficult. We cannot rely on our habits and patterns of life to keep everything together. Think of our habits as the glue of life. Now the pieces float free, and we have the opportunity and the challenge to remake what was unmade by the pandemic.  I say opportunity and challenge because if life was just humming along for us, if we had a good holistic way of navigating the world, and all that got shaken up and broken free of the moorings of our existence, it means things are not going to go back together the same way. Things will be different.

Two examples from my life: I used to be a big cyclist. But some back pain and a new dog, now have me walking a lot more. It is good, but different. I still need to find ways for more intense fitness. I also used to enjoy dinner with friends, family, and parishioners. Still do, in fact! But during the pandemic it became dinner in front of the TV, and then an evening of TV. Not such a good change, in my estimation.

One thing that concerns me as your pastor is the habit of religion. Many members may be without regular church attendance for more than a year. That is a habit, broken. And a new habit to be made, requires effort. It is universally easier to keep a good habit going than to form a new one. And it is universally accepted that it is easier never to begin a bad habit than to have to uproot one from our lives.  Better to sow only good seeds, so as to reap good seeds and keep the weeding to a minimum.

Our habits, especially our moral habits - called virtues and vices - form our character.

One definition of character is “The sum total of virtues and vices.” More broadly, character is the personality or set of qualities that make an individual unique; the defining traits of an individual.

With some introspection we can admit some of our personality quirks, those aspects of ourselves that make us who we are, for better or for worse. Often as we follow the Lord as disciples, we come to moments, crossroads, when God will invite us to grow in one area while often also shrinking in another. We cannot grow all the time in all areas of our lives, just as we cannot work on all the areas of our gardens at once. It is necessary to concentrate, to focus. And when people come to me, moved to follow the Lord deeply, one of the questions is “Where to begin?” We cannot begin everywhere. Generally, there are two options: grow in a virtue or root out a vice.

One of the most fruitful questions for this process arises from the Gospel today. Whenever we ask, “Do I really love my neighbor as myself?” it serves as a mirror and a goal. It is a razor that shaves away any facade that might be hiding a reality we might be less keen to present. This fulcrum question helps us to grow in the virtues of generosity, patience, kindness, and even courage - among others, while also helping us to root out the selfishness or pride that keeps us from a true and fervent love.

During this season of new beginnings, we can sow those good seeds of virtue while rooting out what does not reflect that Gospel life we aspire to live. May God bless our efforts with his grace and aid!

Fr. Wilson