When I was making draft hymnbooks, I cut pictures from old calendars to adorn the front covers. This one really struck me at the time.
Maybe it’s so stereotypically Russian. Maybe it summed up what I was feeling at the time, arranging compromises on what to include in the books, printing 30 copies of close to 300 page books, cutting into my thumb through the thumbnail with the guillotine, gluing and covering each book, finding typos every other week. Finding out halfway through the design stage that Corpus Christi Watershed were producing the Campion Hymnal which would have served admirably had our budget been ten times bigger. Or had we had a budget.
Now I find myself in a very different situation.
At first I was anxious and even may have been depressed. I thought too much about exponential curves and washing my hands. I even looked forward to isolation if it meant less worry.
Now it is over a month since I last attended Mass. Which is a pretty short time in the bigger scheme of things. I am able to sing Compline each night with my family. We say the rosary together. I can watch a livestream of our local FSSP Mass every morning. But I still feel sad.
I usually worry a lot about the Easter ceremonies. The last few years my responsibility has mainly been for the Easter Sunday Mass, which was fairly sparsely attended anyway. Then there was going to be a week of Easter Masses for a homeschool camp. All cancelled.
I guess I am relieved that I don’t bear that responsibility. I am glad to be able to sit with my little children and point out what happens during Mass on a screen in our living room. I am glad my bigger children still feel the importance of attending Mass in some form. But I still feel sad.
Then, in an online talk, our priest pointed out that it is alright to feel sad. The loss of receiving Communion is a real thing. There are tragedies unfolding all over the world. The other alternative would be indifference, and that would be a real tragedy.
At the beginning of Vetus Ordo Mass, the priest recites the psalm that goes: Quare tristis es, anima mea, et quare conturbas me? Why are you sad, O my soul, and why dost thou disquiet me? The next line answers: Spera in Deo Hope in the Lord, I will again be praising thee.
I remember finding it hard to understand what Hope means. It helped me to learn about the two sins against the virtue of Hope: Presumption and Despair. I couldn’t get a grip on what Hope meant without seeing its absence. When we are content with life, then hope seems irrelevant. When we are thrown into a storm, then we feel that defiant struggle to stand upright and keep our eyes on the goal.
This year I had expected to have an easier time. I had three children enrolled in outside education. I was looking forward to calmly homeschooling just two children with time over to play with the pre-schooler. Now I have six children home, including Four Teenage Boys, so maybe it’s just as well I’m not leading any choral endeavours right now!
So, I am still sad, but I see a big challenge and I know that God gives us the grace necessary to serve Him in this life and to obtain eternal life in the next. I won’t be indifferent. I won’t forget God. I’ll put time aside every day to make a Spiritual Communion. I’ll keep finding ways to help my family. It’s not the path I was expecting, but God knows what He’s doing.