During our Stay at Home self-quarantine I saw a meme on social media that said “This is the Lentiest Lent I ever Lented.” That saying often popped into my head through days of struggle when I was trying to maintain calm through changes in so many facets of life at one time: remote work environments, school lessons from home, increased hygiene and cleaning routines, distance from family and friends, and an inability to worship with all of you physically in our Basilica church. While the meme was about Lenten sacrifice, it implied that it was imposed, unwelcome and too severe.
In Holy Week I realized the saying grown for me from “This is the Lentiest Lent I event Lented” to “This is the Holiest Lent I ever Lented.” In this unprecedented time of global sacrifice and solidarity for the common good, we have stripped back the extras in our lives and focused on the fundamentals. I found that core to be family, friends and neighbors, the most vulnerable in our society, and spiritual communion with Jesus in His Lenten suffering (so much more significant than my own).
Leading up to Easter, I was able to virtually attend far more services than my previous schedule allowed. I was able to spend time in prayer and reflection, checking in on family and friends, sharing meals and household supplies with those who didn’t have enough, and sewing masks to offer safety and peace of mind to loved ones.
The greatest gift of this pandemic Lent and Holy Week was being accompanied. I felt the presence of all of you, and hope you felt the presence of our Basilica community. Most of all, I felt accompanied by God. Whenever I felt scared, overwhelmed, impatient, and weak, I found comfort in God and the death and resurrection of Christ.
Today Peter tells us “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith…may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” May we all rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy!