Don’t be shocked or scandalized, but in late high school and early college, Father had a sweet heart. (Remember, I wasn’t born a priest!) She was a nice girl. We had many things in common – school, friends, fun. We dated for a couple of years. As can happens, we grew very comfortable with each other… but the familiarity led us to ‘overlook’ certain issues that were present in our relationship. We all know much growing and maturing happens in high school and college. The two of us were both figuring out what our futures would look like. It eventually became very evident that we were not looking for the same thing in terms of family, careers, Faith. Even our everyday interests began to diverge. We dated 6 or 9 months well past the time it was evident that we should have peaceably gone our own ways, but the inertia and familiarity of the relationship made that hard to do. Large parts of my life had been dedicated to her. I had spent time supporting her; and in turn, I’d grown to depend upon her. Tremendous energy, time, effort had been invested in the relationship by both of us. Eventually, through some external circumstances, the relational difficulties came to a crossroads and the relationship ended. We broke-up. I remember it being hard, even while we both realized it had to happen. It did not make it in any way easy, enjoyable, or even desired. Yet, it had to be done. Like so many in such a situation, I had to grieve, mourn, and be greatly sad over the loss. It took time, prayer, patience with myself, advice and comfort from others, and hope for the future. It forced me to look at how the two of us had related and to learn more deeply who I am and want to be and how future relationships would unfold. It changed me, and while painful and difficult, for the better. It forced me to focus on what was truly important. It changed my present and my future.
This is not a tell-all. I’ve sort of thought about this ‘type’ of experience, loss, and grief in light of where we find ourselves. While none of us would ever pray for these pandemic times, I wonder if this “break-up” from our ‘normal’ life might ultimately be the external circumstances, the crossroads, we all need to re-evaluate and take a new direction. In our ‘ordinary’ and ‘normal’ life, we had become comfortable, even as we were run ragged. There was inertia and familiarity with the non-stop pace, the constant activity, the distractions of lives which, at some level, we knew in our hearts we are not made for. As we find ourselves still homebound – adjusting, evaluating, re-normalizing – routines and relationships, we need to be honest with ourselves in this moment. There is grieving, mourning, and great sadness over the immense loss that has taken place. There are some good things of that past life. People who have passed. Routines that have been sacrificed. Gatherings, graduations, get-togethers that have been missed and lost. In no way is any of this loss easy, enjoyable, or even desired. Part of our stress and anxiety is actually grief and emotional sadness and spiritual dissonance with the Cross and loss we’ve encountered. Honestly encountering it in time, with prayer, patience with ourselves and one another, helpful advice and comfort from each other, and abiding hope for the future that flows from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, this could, however, be the great moment of renewal. I, like so many of you, have looked forward to what will happen when we can at last return to movement, interactions, jobs, lives. But will we just go back to what we had grown accustomed? I pray not! This moment, I believe, could be the redirecting of our life, new priorities, stronger families, a rebuilt domestic church, and ultimately deeper Christian faith. This terrible and tremendous time of disruption, as part of our grief may require us to learn more deeply who we are, who we want to be, and how are relationships with God and others may look in the Resurrection light of Christ. It may aid us to break with a past that was not good for us or God’s plan for our lives. This time, while painful and difficult, will certainly change me (and all of us), we pray for the better by forcing us to focus on what is truly important in the present and for our eternal futures.
This conversion, this change of heart, this new life, is the very core of the Message of God’s Divine Mercy! With the fullness of Love, Jesus Christ suffered, died, and rose. It is the ultimate crisis encountered and revival experienced. It is the pathway for all Christ’s followers. It is the source of hope – the Image of Jesus Risen in Glory, shining forth light and life, love and mercy, blessing us with His Resurrected Self. Jesus would turn us from ourselves to Him – not by fear but for Happiness, Peace, and Joy.
Jesus, I Trust in You!
You are Risen to New Life!
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries