March 26, 2020 – Soldiering On or Enjoying

Today is the 11th day of the Stay-at-Home orders in Austria, though it feels like quite a bit longer. The days are so unusual, they feel longer. A couple days ago the government hinted again that it will be quite some time before we can return to "normal life" again, and the return can only be step by step. For those suffering in the current conditions and merely hoping that the whole thing will be over as soon as possible, that is likely unpleasant news.

We can, however, to a significant extent ourselves determine the effect these things have on us. Our we experience the (necessary) new circumstances depends not only on the external situation and our job, but also on our attitude.

I myself am neither out of a job nor required to work more intensely than before, as the police, medical personell and a number of other professionals have to. Pastoral care and parish life continues, though contact takes place mostly by telephone, email and the like. In addition, I am an introvert and enjoy peace and quiet. Still, I miss more personal contact with people, and I can sympathize with those who need such contact much more, or who are out of a job or concerned about it, or who struggle with homeschooling for the first time, and who find the current situation rather burdensome.

One thing that helps me is to be attentive to see the opportunities to be found in the present circumstances, as well as the many things for which to be grateful. E.g., to have somewhat more time to listen to music or to make music, or to clean up, organize or fix various things in my apartment, or to pray, especially in the evenings, when there are usually so many meetings, catecheses, etc. In larger society, it is a blessing to see the solidarity and mutual help given at this time.

That doesn't mean we should pretend everything is rosy; it is not. There is not a little human suffering that we should attend to, quite a bit of sacrifice and deprivation is needed. We can, however, give this assistance and make these sacrifices better from a position of strength, of hope, of joy in the graces God is working this time. In this sense, I hope and pray that all of us can experience this strange and unusual time as a time of blessings.

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