Uncertainty is part of life. The only thing for certain is God. Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Charles Lewis: Finding fellowship in uncertainty

  • April 1, 2020

We all feel the uncertainty in the air; we all hear that low-grade anxiety buzzing in the background.

What makes matters worse is being stuck indoors. At work or at a party or a sporting event we get the relief of forgetting for a while. We are distracted. Now it is not so easy.

We cannot even go to Mass. We do not go to church to be distracted but rather to be deeply engaged. Now we have to try to replicate that sense of being part of something larger on our own and it is not that easy — especially with all that buzzing.

Pope Francis wisely said that this is not a time to think of every man for himself. But when we are so distanced from one another it is easy to forget we are still part of a community.

One way to keep connected is to pray. I am sure you have heard that before. But friends have told me they are distracted in prayer. I find watching the daily Mass on my computer under headphones helps me to focus. The Mass is a prayer.

There is another important thing worth doing, something that in fact might help us to pray and get through this: find a sense of perspective.

We are now in communion with much of the world that lives in a constant state of uncertainty … not just today but always.

Christ put on flesh to be in communion with humanity. The least we can do is be in communion with our fellow man, if not in the flesh at least in spirit.

We must think of the Christians in parts of the Middle East who never feel safe and who worry constantly about their future and the future of their children.

Put your mind to hundreds of thousands of Uyghur people and others who are in internment camps in China for no other reason than their ethnicity and religion.

Think of those who are ground down by poverty, who have no assurance there will be food, clean water and shelter tomorrow — and will feel the same even once this crisis passes.

I have been reading about the Catholic uprising against the anti-Catholic government of Mexico in the 1920s. In fact, for many years leading up to the rebellion, Catholics — from laity to priests — were executed without legal justification.

To be Catholic was to live in a state of fear.

For those of Irish descent, think of the terrible stories of the famine.

Think about what the world was like in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Nazis were crawling all over Europe. They seemed unstoppable. The Japanese had already run amok over most of Asia and after Pearl Harbor there was real fear of an invasion on the west coast of Canada and the United States.

These were real and terrifying fears. Imagine being a Jew who had escaped Germany and then Occupied France and now was imagining extinction in England if the Nazis invaded.

A personal story:

I was thinking of my Grandmother Lewis who, during the Second World War, had two sons, my father and my uncle, fighting overseas in the American armed forces.

At that time communication was not great even without a war. So you would get a letter but you had no idea whether the writer was still alive by the time it came. Or you would see the Western Union telegram delivery man on the street and think, “O God … please let it not be me.” That’s how bad news was delivered.

At one point my grandmother had two telegrams that listed my father and his brother as Missing in Action. She finally received a letter through the Red Cross from my Dad who was in a German prison camp. She heard of the death of my uncle Charlie just after the war ended. He died over the Japanese stronghold of Rabaul when his plane was shot down.

I once asked my parents how they got through the Depression and the terrible war that followed.

My mother said: “It wasn’t all that bad because we were all in it together.”

We are all in this together. We have always been in this together. Uncertainty is part of life. The only thing for certain is God.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.