Pandemic Positives?
By Penny Wiegert
Okay. I think we all have agreed that it is getting harder and harder to find the positive moments of this pandemic.
I could make an enormous list of all the things I miss. And if I forget something, all you have to do is get on Facebook for two minutes and someone will be complaining about something.
However, I started to think of the things I have learned since the stay at home order. Some might just be plain ole realizations, but here goes.
I learned that sometimes, staying at home isn’t so bad. 
I learned that online shopping is pretty easy. I still think it’s more time consuming than shopping in a store, but overall, it’s simple. 
I learned that I am better at technology than I thought. And again, it takes time to figure some things out. And you may have to upgrade your devices, but overall using all kinds of different software and apps isn’t that difficult and there is always more than one way to accomplish something.
I learned that anyone can learn technology. I am so proud of all the priests and church staffers who have embraced, even if it was reluctantly, the use of technology to keep in touch with parishioners and keep them in touch with Christ. 
I learned that I am very glad my children are grown. And truthfully, I am sure my own children have learned they are glad they are grown too and not having school with me. I am in constant awe of the teachers, parents and students for keeping up their studies without the benefit of social interaction. I have reflected on this in my prayers many times. I find it amazing and inspiring how parents are juggling e-learning, their own jobs, or lack thereof, along with their sanity at home. 
I learned that I miss all the things I thought were distracting about Mass in Church.
I finally learned the satisfaction of “taking a ride.” My grandparents would go on a little drive now and again and act like it was the best thing ever. I never understood it. Why would you just want to get in the car and go somewhere without a destination or task attached to it? Why would you waste the gas? Now, I get it. What a low cost way to drink in the earth and all that sits upon it? What a source of thanksgiving and wonder it can be to see the farmers kick up dust in their mammoth machines then see little plants peak thru the soil in a well-groomed yard? And what a surprise it is to take a road you’ve never traveled only to find it connects to one you do? 
So I challenge you to think about some of the positive things you’ve learned during this down time. How has God presented Himself to you? Perhaps it’s just simply in the learning.
And on a another note …
When will we open our churches? The Diocese of Rockford is working very hard on preparing for the public worship of Mass once again. Your Church is in charge of getting you safely back to the sacraments. 
No one enjoys being away from the sacraments. But, as Bishop Malloy writes in his column on page 2, returning to public Mass will be different, at least for a while. And I know you are longing for the Eucharist. We all are. Be patient and be kind. We will get there. 
Why haven’t we just thrown open the doors and let the germs fall where they may? 
The long and the short of the question of opening up churches to public worship without restriction for me is this: I know most all of the people at my parish at least by sight. I know a lot of folks all over this diocese for that matter! I may not know or remember names so well, but I know who the regulars are. And thankfully there are new families with young children. I confess I haven’t gotten to know them but I am beyond grateful to see them practicing the faith.
Having said that, I can’t imagine choosing which one I would like to be without. Which one of the parishioners would I be willing to give up to illness, hospitalization or death so I no longer have to watch Mass online or on television?
I know my answer. What’s yours?