Hi from a room that used to be my office, but is now my “bunker”.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI
Like the rest of you I am now three weeks into lock-down and “ordinary time” is now very different than it was one month ago. Our school is on lock-down, with all classes and meetings now taking place on ZOOM. That is true too for our liturgies. All of our chapels are closed. Surprisingly, it is going pretty well and is fast becoming the “new normal”. Luckily, so far, nobody from our school or our Oblate community has come down with the virus so we are all still enjoying health and are pretty much resigned to the fact that things will probably continue in this way until at least late June.
For me, personally, this has been a time for more prayer, more reflection, more regular rest, and more physical exercise. My work, both as teacher and as an administrator, hasn’t stopped or even significantly lessened, but, with the lock-down, it has “regularized” and that has left me time precisely for regular prayer, rest, and exercise.
I nurse some guilt about this because I am only too-aware how painful and fearful this time is for so many others: thousands are infected by the virus, thousands have died, millions have lost their jobs (and health insurance), millions are without money for necessities, millions now live in anxiety and fear, tens of millions are very lonely, and millions are trapped at home in domestic situations of unhappiness, abuse, and violence. For me, so far, this has not been a hardship and I find myself chastised by an anonymous quote someone sent me: Our grandparents fought in the Second World War. We are being asked to sit on the couch. We can do this!
What kind of resurrection do we need during this time of lock-down? Soren Kierkegaard once said his favorite text in the Gospels was the one where, after Jesus’ death, the disciples locked themselves into a room out of fear and the resurrected Jesus had to come through the locked doors of their resistance to breathe peace into them. Kierkegaard prayed for that to happen to him, that Jesus would come through the locked doors of his resistance and breathe peace into him. This year, we need the resurrected Jesus breathe peace into a whole world that is locked-down and needs a million kinds of peace.
This can be a good year too to remember that at the root of the Easter message lies this: There is nothing to fear, nothing – not lock-down, not defeat, not threat, not loss, not sickness, not even death. The resurrection of Jesus assures us that in the end all shall be well, and all shall be well, and every manner of being shall be well; and if it isn’t well … then it is still not the end!
Prayers for a blessed Easter!
Ronald Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
He is a community-builder, lecturer and writer. His books are popular throughout the English-speaking world and his weekly column is carried by more than seventy newspapers worldwide.