Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C., ponders the graces that God can bring from our time of quiet, simplicity, and isolation during this pandemic.
There is a time for every purpose under heaven. Friends, we live in a time of pandemic, and while this is a trying time for all of us, I would point to three realities. First, the Gospel reality, second, the Pandemic reality and third, the Divine Comedy of the Christian life.
First, I hope you notice that Jesus, usually after praying, likes to ask questions. Today’s Gospel has Him ask the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And then He reveals the purpose of His life: that He has come to save us by suffering, dying, and rising from the dead.
Second, the pandemic has altered all of our daily routines. We know that God is in charge and that something as harmful for so many people, in God’s hands, can be a great grace. Living on campus these past seven months, with students, faculty, and staff gone for most of this time; the natural beauty of campus has been the solitary domain of a few of us. I have been able to walk the campus and listen to books on Audible. Just this week I finished the Divine Comedy by Dante, a comedy in three parts. This towering work about faith and salvation is one of the most remarkable pieces of literature and spirituality in the history of the world. Dante is the lead figure. He says “I was in the middle years of life,” 35, and was lost in a wood. Then he is propelled forward on a great pilgrimage guided by Virgil and Beatrice, who is also the Virgin Mary. Part one is the Inferno: hell. This is a harrowing beginning of the journey through rings of evil where unrepentant souls are spending eternity in hopeless horror.
Dante can’t wait to escape from hell into Purgatory, where he meets joyful souls at various stages of growing in grace and holiness. They are joyful because they reached the place of assurance that, once equipped with pure and liberated bodies and souls, they will come into the glory of God, whom they long encounter with all their beings but know they are not yet ready. Finally, arriving in Paradise, the scenes of joy, peace, and exuberant life are almost too much to take in.
The pandemic has forced all of us into a quieter, simpler mode of life. Often in solitude, we have been able to focus on what is truly essential. This difficult Covid-19, in God’s hands, can be a great grace. We come to realize that the human relationships of love and friendship with each other and God are at the heart of the matter.
From the Paradise of Dante, I would like to salute and celebrate Gerald and Spring Raymond for the 50 golden years of love, marriage, faithfulness to each other and to their responsibilities to their children, Joe, JR, and Cherie, and their spouses and the grandchildren. For 50 years they have inspired those closest to them with the love and joy they have for each other and for their family and friends. What a blessing and gift their committed, free and fruitful love is to all of us. They are in Augusta, Georgia and we are here in Massachusetts and other places, but distance does not keep us from sharing our love and joy with them this week. God bless them, and may there be many other families so rich in faith, joy and unity. As Father Peyton always said, “The family that prays together stays together.”
Happy Anniversary, Spring and Gerald. Amen.
Oh, by the way, Gerald is my younger, more handsome brother.
Copyright 2020 Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
Image: Mali Maeder (2016), Pexels
About the Author
Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C. is President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. He entered Holy Cross Fathers in 1964. He earned a Bachelors in Philosophy from Stonehill College in 1967 and a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. In addition to English, Father Willy is conversant in French and Spanish. He's a native of Old Town, Maine and one of 12 children. He remains a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox, even though he has served as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers.