Coronavirus presents us with a Lenten challenge


To the Editor:

When I woke up recently at my usual time of 6:20 a.m., I realized that something was eerily different. The daily morning Mass that I have attended for so many years was suddenly no longer. It was taken from us by the coronavirus. This is a strange, highly contagious germ that has permeated the entire world and forced it to its knees. God hasn’t been able to get many people to kneel these days but all of a sudden, we are at war with this invisible coronavirus enemy and it is scary enough to force us to our knees and change every aspect of our lives.  Some of us have even started to look to God and pray again. 

Attending daily Mass was a staple in my life. It’s what I needed to ground myself for the day ahead. After awakening at 6:20 am, it would take some time for me to place my feet on the floor, steady myself and clear my eyes before I was able to stand up and begin the physical part of my day. Attending morning Eucharist did much the same for me spiritually. It grounded and steadied me for the challenges I would face that day. There is nothing like it! Greeting God in the Eucharist, praising him and asking this loving God to accompany me in everything I did that day. This prayer was the acknowledgement that God was in charge and He would help me do the best I could. 

As I reflect on all that is happening, I can’t help but think that I was somewhat naïve and spoiled believing that public Mass would always be available. It is like thinking I was entitled to this gift.  I remember many years ago when I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. There was no such thing as public Mass or for that matter, any Christian service. Local religious police were assigned to enforce this edict. When a priest did show up to celebrate the Eucharist, it was done clandestinely and we quickly dispersed at its conclusion. We all realized that something special just took place. We were privileged to be there for the Eucharist and the sense of entitlement never entered our minds. When this coronavirus passes (soon I hope) and public Mass is resumed, I think I will once again begin to feel like I did when I lived in Saudi Arabia. Being at Mass is a privilege. Celebrating the Eucharist is a gift. Despite all the adjustments we have had to make to our lives and all the inconveniences we must endure, we now have the time to reflect on what is truly important in life and to take from this experience something positive that could change our lives forever. Let’s make it our Lenten challenge!

Joseph Lero, Bristol