A Forty Days to Remember

By Christen Cota – Director of Faith Formation

Did you know that the word quarantine comes from the mid-17th century Italian word quarantina which means ‘forty days’? What else is 40 days? Lent. What a Lent this has turned out to be! Some of us might have given up gossip for Lent, while others sugar, and still others may have decided to pray more during Lent. I doubt anyone set out to give up seeing their classmates or friends for 40 days, or to lose an income from being laid off for 40 days. Yet here we are. Some of us, due to underlying medical conditions, may even feel entombed in our homes and may feel desperately alone.

Let us remember what happened in this past Sunday’s Gospel. After weeping and thanking his Heavenly Father, Jesus called out in a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out!” and the dead man came out. Some people may be asking where God is when people suffer. Remember, Jesus wept. He mourned the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus became man and became like us in all ways except sin. This means Jesus allowed himself to feel sadness, lonely, pain, joy, fear, hope and every human emotion. And by doing so, unites his suffering to ours and raises us up in the end. He shares in our helplessness, he cries, then he raises us up. And we are called to proclaim  “Yes, Lord, I believe!”

I had great sadness when I learned that public Masses were being suspended. What would our lives look like without the precious gift of Eucharist, without being able to gather as the body of Christ to worship and give thanks? I still long for our return to celebrate Mass together again, but I am beginning to see what it might look like when the stone of this tomb of isolation is rolled away. I pray it means that not one of us will ever again take for granted the Eucharist, that we will flock to Mass, come joyfully and fully participate because we know what life without it means. I pray it means that our families have grown closer to each other, that if we use well the gift of more time with each other, that we will have learned to love each other more deeply, learned how to have fun together without running between activities, learned how to better pray together, and that we have lived what is called the Domestic Church better. I pray that when this quarantine is lifted, that we can cry with joy, give praise to our Heavenly Father for the gifts that will rise from the suffering, and that we can rise and walk more closely with Christ.