Sunday, 03 May 2020 13:16

Thoughts on pandemic and some reading suggestions

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A pandemic miscellany:

My parents, in assisted living in Decatur, found aggressive measures in their residence being taken relatively early. I am grateful for the management’s foresight. I have not seen Mom and Dad since early March. Needless to say, we keep in touch by phone.

In my parishes, we have held strictly to very small gatherings for live streams of Masses. The “studio” is the St. Jerome weekday chapel. I use my blog on the website to bring various things to people’s attention. On Palm Sunday, volunteers were present in our parking lots to distribute palms while people stayed in their vehicles.

I have had two funerals at funeral homes with people who were properly socially distanced.

I received masks from two parishioners. One is made of fabric which includes the line: “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1: 37). The other is black, with a white clerical collar on top.

I go to shop and the stores will no longer support my habit of bringing reusable bags. I am accumulating the non-reusable plastic bags. I am favorably impressed with the stores and other businesses I visit; they are taking the possibility of infection very seriously. Personnel are behind transparent plastic shields. If you are in line to check out, you must keep your distance.

I have been in numerous audio and video teleconferences. I am happy to be able to interact with parishioners, and with ecumenical partners across the state, using these methods.

In my parishes, my day off — in fact, the entire staff’s day off — is Monday. On the Monday after Divine Mercy Sunday, I was strict with myself and saw to it that my little respite included a break from the internet. One can get a bit unbalanced spending a great deal of one’s time in this sort of interaction at the expense of such things as taking a walk, sitting quietly in prayer, or reading.

And, when it comes to reading, I have a couple of suggestions.

In April, Orthodox Christians published a document on social teaching. For the Life of the World is the result of about four years of work at an international level. You can find it at goarch.org/social-ethos. Bioethical teaching differs somewhat from ours. In all other spheres of social justice, this document offers a resounding call to all people to act in accord with human dignity. I was particularly impressed, favorably, with the lengthy document’s condemnations of racism and nationalism.

I enjoyed reading a new biography, Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask, by Jon Pessah. The legendary Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra (1925-2015), from St. Ambrose Parish in the “Hill” neighborhood of St. Louis, set himself on a career path in baseball from a very young age. This biography chronicles his numerous successes in baseball in various playing positions with the New York Yankees, mostly as catcher, and then presents his later work as manager of the Yankees and the New York Mets, and his coaching with these teams and the Houston Astros. Over many years, I have been interested in Yogi Berra largely because of his “Yogi-isms,” statements which cause one to do a double-take yet are rooted in truth. This biography demonstrates what a decent, and often put-upon, person he was. (Please be advised there is some rude language in this book.)

We have all learned a certain discipline over the past few weeks. Fulfilling the command to “love your neighbor as yourself,” we continue in our discipline as long as necessary. As Yogi would say, it ain’t over till it’s over.