What does ‘normal’ mean now? Print
Thursday, Apr. 02, 2020 -- 12:00 AM
'[Assistant] Editor's View'
Kevin Wondrash

First off, I want to thank Catholic Herald Editor Mary C. Uhler for letting me borrow the Editorial page this week.

As many of you saw in last week's edition, Mary was taken to the hospital after a serious medical episode.

You dear readers will be happy to know that she's currently at home, resting and recovering.

I'm sure she'll tell you more about what happened and what she went through in a future issue.

Know that she has greatly appreciated all of your prayers and thoughts.

Here, at our offices, the situation with Mary was just one of many things we have had to deal with over the last few weeks.

It started with parish, school, diocesan, and other events being postponed, changed, and then eventually canceled.

Then schools were closed and public Masses were suspended.

Between being a little short-staffed and trying to keep up with situations and procedures that changed daily, it felt a little crazy here at 702 S. High Point Rd.

Outside of work, one-by-one, everything that has been habit and familiar to us was put on hold for the foreseeable future.

Many people are stuck "safely" at home, while others continue to work in their "essential" capacities.

For someone like me, whose life pretty much revolves around my faith and sports, I've had a lot less to do outside of work.

Adjusting to a 'new normal'

The term I've heard and seen used to describe our current living and coping situations is "new normal".

This is a phrase first used during the 2007-2008 financial crisis and has become a common saying over the last decade to describe widespread changing times and the acceptance of them.

In the context of the reaction to the COVID-19 virus, "new normal" means that life around us has changed, not just in our own little worlds, but for everyone.

What was good and worked well for us before may not be possible now, due to health department restrictions and guidelines, and more importantly, the possibility that lives may be at stake.

This requires some humility on our part. Even our "own little worlds" aren't about us anymore.

Each of us are doing many things we normally wouldn't do, and that aren't normal to us.

There's that word again -- "normal".

For years, the awkward and/or the introverted (yours truly, among them) would utter the rhetorical, "What is 'normal' anyway?"

Go back just a few months, and the answer to that question is remarkably different from then to now.

"Social distancing" is now a thing. A subconscious reminder to wash your hands for 20 seconds is now a thing. Not forming or staying away from large groups is now a thing. Staying home from work or working from home is now a thing -- more than it used to be.

And, for many, wondering how long the savings will last, wondering how one's -- or a loved one's -- defenses will handle the virus, or when will we resemble a Church community again with public Masses, the sacraments, and other public devotions and events that help us grow in faith are now all things.

God's 'normal'

Take away all the superficial earthly things like sports, going to the movies, and going out to dinner, and we still have God's love and mercy.

Now, sports, movies, and dinner aren't bad things. I very much like and am good at consuming all of them, but this "new normal" has certainly made us reflect on how vital and needed they are in our lives.

Back to God's love and mercy: they are still here for the taking. No pandemic can take those away.

God's desire for us to know, love, and serve him is just as normal as it ever was.

We still have prayer. We have more time and resources, especially of the online variety, to really amp up our prayer lives.

We can develop some new prayer habits that will become . . . normal . . . once this time of pandemic is over.

As many have lamented, we do not have Masses to attend, right now.

Since whenever we began our catechetical journey, we were taught that the Eucharist, via the Mass, is the "source and summit" of our faith.

Right now, something so important, so vital is not accessible to us.

Many may be asking, spiritually, how can we go on?

This is where trust comes in.

A few "Jesus, I Trust in You"s may be called for here.

I, myself, am using this as a time to unite to those, in the present and past, who also didn't have Masses accessible to them.

Due to proximity, environmental conditions, war, or government, many faithful didn't have, and some still don't have, a chance to go to Mass, receive the Eucharist, or go to Confession.

I'm putting my faith in God that if so many of his children are lacking in those opportunities, he must be blessing us with a way to get through it.

Christ promised us he would be with us "always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

As long as we continue to live and breathe, we are still in the "age".

God also promised us "I will be with you: I will not leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5).

So, let's trust in that. Let's trust in our Heavenly Father looking down on us even if our "normal" way of worshipping has gone outside the realm of normal.

Earthly normal changes, but God's normal does not.

Every day, we are still called to know, love, and serve God.

Let's do that through the blessings God has given us, even in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.

We'll all get through this.