Growing up my parents weren’t particularly religious but the Catholic Church was always present. My grandmother was intensely religious and as a result my brother and I went to Catholic school and whenever she was in town we went to mass with my grandparents.
As an adult there have been periods where my Catholicism has been intense like my grandmother’s and other periods where it’s been more dormant. I haven’t really found a parish in Chicago that felt like home, but I’ve always found ways to celebrate Easter and I’ve rarely missed mass during Holy Week.
While I recognize many people reading today’s entry aren’t Catholic, the significance of Holy Week stretches across Christianity. Additionally, this time is sacred in other faith traditions as well. After all, we are only a few days away from Passover. Even for those who don’t celebrate a particular religious tradition, this time has often brought family and friends together to celebrate with Easter egg hunts, brunches and family dinners.
It is strange to be sitting on my couch in a t-shirt and yoga pants on a beautiful Palm Sunday. Strange actually doesn’t begin to cover it. It is profoundly sad in a way I didn’t anticipate when I woke up this morning. There are so many times I have found solace in the pews during difficult moments. Not being able to celebrate mass during Holy Week as a global crisis unfolds around us is a particularly cruel element of this pandemic. I expect I’m not the only person feeling intensely alone today.
Even though we can’t be physically together during this time I am so grateful for people taking the time to reach out every way they can. My college priest has been hosting mass on Facebook live on Sundays to connect people to their faith community even though they can’t physically attend mass. And I see messages of faith and encouragement from the neighborhood churches on every walk around Wrigleyville:
In the Catholic tradition Palm Sunday marks the beginning of a week filled with community, miracles, betrayal, despair, and fear that culminates in rebirth and hope. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate many are feeling despair, fear and a sense of isolation. I will be spending this week reflecting on the lessons of Holy Week and praying for hope and rebirth for all of us at some unknown point on the other side.