ColumnsNaming Grace

Nothing is normal!

The Pentagon ordered 100,000 body bags. Authorities secured refrigerated trucks to hold the dead. The entire economy screeched to a halt. All schools closed. All concerts and sports events canceled. And the worst, no public Masses. Pope Francis, praying in an eerily silent, empty St. Peter’s Square, shouts anything but normal. Nothing is normal during this pandemic. Yet amid the closures and anxiety, I’ve noticed a few of the faithful have posted online, “They can’t cancel Easter!” So true, you can’t cancel Easter. But as usual, Easter won’t be normal! The first Easter was anything but normal. Early in the morning, “Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to see the tomb.” After loving Jesus to the end, they return to the burial spot. There, they encounter an angel who brings the good news of all times. “Do not be afraid! … He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” The angel’s revelation relieves the entire human race — Jesus conquered sin and death forever. The declaration allows each human person, of all times and all places, to exhale; death no longer has power. While coronavirus rocks our world, the Resurrection shatters all expectations as the rock-splitting, mind-blowing, heaven-­opening event — not of the decade, a lifetime, or the century, but of all eternity. Nothing is normal as Jesus’ resurrection releases death’s grip and creates new possibilities in every aspect of life. As Christians, we trust God to bring new life out of the pandemic. As a country/world, our ways of interacting, doing business and being church are no longer normal. If we are open and faithful, much of what has been dead or dying may experience a resurrection — a newness of life: neighbors we barely knew, now check in; families once disconnected, now meet online; businesses concerned for the bottom line, now value their workers. As the church, many lukewarm have rediscovered worship and formation online. Though some took Sunday Mass for granted, many now yearn for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and community. And with church doors on lockdown, the body of Christ turns outward, seeking new ways to reach the lonely and serve the poor. As parents/grandparents, we name grace — Christ’s Risen Presence — each time we invite a new way of living into our homes and relationships. We bring hope to our children by assuring them that God will never abandon them or the beautiful world he created. We encourage our children to pray, play and learn during this time, knowing God has a plan and purpose for their lives, no matter the pandemic — no matter what. We rejoice with our children, that when a loved one dies in Christ, he or she lives forever in heaven. And we sing — at the top of our lungs — whether by our lonesome self or with a party of fewer than 10, the great Alleluia! This Easter, our celebration will be anything but normal. Instead of our large family gathering for Mass, a lovely brunch and a lively Easter egg hunt, my husband and I will worship online, enjoy a simple meal and go for a Sunday drive. Yet even, or especially, in the pandemic, our hearts will burst with joy. For Jesus, our Lord and Savior, has risen from the dead, making all things new, now and forever. Now, that’s glorious news!

How will your Easter be anything but normal?

How will God create a new way of being for your family?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent.