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Better than what we’ve ever been

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - February 27, 2021 - 12:00am

The Lenten season is just around the corner. And with the pandemic still lurking in our midst, we are uncertain as to how to celebrate the season. The dates given by the government to have the vaccines available for the Filipinos are so fluid. Even the government officials have no definite dates for the arrival.

Although it is almost a year since the start of the lockdown and with COVID cases rising, can we still expect to behave like last year or will there be changes this year?

The intensity and gravity of the effect of the pandemic is unprecedented and so making decisions is hard because of limited templates, if there are, why is it that even the most powerful country didn’t bring its rank down as the nation with most COVID infections?

Based on the IATF guidelines, churches can increase their capacity which is a welcome news for parishioners, but most probably not shared by the medical sector as such move would only lead to more cases in the future.

For this year, can we expect people to be going to churches and places of worship? Would families go out for recollections? Can we still see friends flocking to shrines for meditation?

Almost one year has passed since the world was turned upside-down by the pandemic. As we can recall, it was a few weeks into Lent last year when the church made the difficult decision to cancel public masses. While we are all looking forward to a return to “normal,” the truth is that none of us will ever completely return to normal. We do not come out of a crisis the same as before, either we come out of it better, or we come out of it worse.

While this year has presented challenges, we have learned a lot as well. For one, we have witnessed a great increase in our ability to connect with people from a great distance. So many of us have found ways to connect with their people by communicating virtually. It’s not always easy and it doesn’t replace being together in person, but it makes such a difference to our people, like for me. I have appreciated the daily radio and online masses.

This year has also provided us a great opportunity to grow spiritually. We can be easily spoiled by how comfortable life is. While comfort can be good for us, it can also be a roadblock to spiritual journey. When we are too comfortable, we may fall into the trap of thinking we don’t need God. We may also come to believe that living in relationship with God means things will always be easy. We only need to look at the cross to be reminded that following God requires sacrifice and suffering.

The sacrifice of pushing through fear, the sacrifice of wearing a mask to protect others, the sacrifice of missing life’s milestones with family and friends. Whatever the sacrifice, offering it up to God is a great gift of love.

As we begin this Lenten season, I hope that the experiences of this past year will help us enter this season more profoundly. Let’s embrace the traditional Lenten triad of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as a way to grow in holiness. This Lenten season, let’s ensure we come out of the pandemic better than we’ve ever been as a people.

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