“1 Thessalonians 5:18”
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
This passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians may shock or upset you in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. How is it possible to give thanks during or after the past year we all experienced? There is a lot of tangible anger and anguish from those in our community and those close to us—and justifiably so. Then why are we to give thanks to God?
It was a struggle for me to understand the gravity and scale of the COVID-19 outbreak last March. I was set to travel, host a Lenten bible study for the Young Adult ministry and spiritually prepare for the coming of Easter as I had done so many times before. When the community, the state, the nation and our church shut down “until further notice”, it left me in a state of denial. As is common when grieving, that denial soon morphed into anger as we all stayed cooped up in our homes waiting to return to our normal lives.
But “normal” did not come. My family and I turned to live-streamed Sunday Mass and the Family Rosary Across America on Relevant Radio to stabilize our need for spiritual nourishment. I increased my exercise routine in frequency and intensity. I went through old television shows that I found entertaining to pass the time. These things helped support (in the case of the Masses and nightly rosary) but also distract from the unrest seen on the news every day. I, too, was personally feeling this unrest.
Finally, I hit a crossroads in May. The stress of the pandemic had brought some matters in my life to the surface, though I had been doing my best to suppress them for a long time. It was because of the pandemic that I was faced with addressing these matters (which I believe would have continued to burden me if gone unaddressed.)
Through God’s grace, increased prayer and the support of people around me, I was able to transform my life in the way in which God was calling me amidst difficult circumstances. I made great progress in these areas and I do not believe this would not have happened if not for the isolation and silence I (and all of us) were forced to experience. In this silence I had no choice but to listen to God’s voice. I do not know where I would be these 16 months later if this growth had not taken place. This is a great reason for me to give thanks.
A new foundation had been laid—one for sustained support moving forward in my faith journey. The pandemic reminded me how to turn to the Lord in times of trouble and lean on as well as trust in Him. I can assure you this is something that I am still working on and will continue to do so. But it is a humbling experience that I can say with great confidence is vital to us as Catholics. We must surrender ourselves to Divine Providence—“the will of God for you in Christ Jesus”—most especially when we do not expect it or want it.
For all these things and those that I did not recognize nor yet realize, I give thanks.
Christopher Simon is a life-long Holy Trinity parishioner, having received all his sacraments here and attended Holy Trinity School from preschool through 8th Grade. He now proudly serves the parish as the Director of Communications and as the young adult ministry leader.
Sun: 7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am
Daily Mass - Mon-Sat: 8:00am
Confession - Sat: 2:45 - 3:45pm
Holy Trinity Catholic Parish
25 East Richmond Street
Westmont, IL 60559