I was in my office in February of 2020 with my coworker, Eric. He had just read something about a virus in China that was apparently ‘pretty bad.’ He asked me if I thought it would affect us. I said something along the lines of, “That won’t make it over here.” My ignorance was bliss at the time. As we all know, that virus did span the entire globe, and its effects were seen in nearly every aspect of life. As a teacher, I was fortunate to be on salary when everything shut down, and the end of the 2020 school year saw no requirements to teach on a livestream. All there was to do was post assignments, grade them, and check in with the class.

In my region, there was about 6 weeks when everything was shut down except for stores that provided material essentials. After those 6 weeks, things began to slowly open up with the introduction of mask requirements. However, this meant that Holy Week and Easter services were only celebrated in the virtual format. Yet, I began to learn, my family and I were only beginning to learn how to celebrate Holy Week and Easter physically for the first time. 

Despite the negative effects that Covid had on the world, the slowdown was an unexpected gift to my family. As Director of Student Life, I was in charge of many things such as Student Council, extracurricular clubs and activities, school spirit assemblies, school trips, etc. There was constant activity and planning in my life. In addition, my wife and I had just welcomed our second child into the world in January of 2020. A busy life mixed with interrupted sleep was the norm for our family in early 2020, yet it all came to a halt mid-March. 

I have found that sometimes you do not realize how loud something is until you leave the room and come back to hear it anew. When you are in the room, you become used to the sound and it becomes the audio norm. It is not until you are removed that you recognize the level of noise and its potential harmful effects. This was our life before Covid, fast paced and filled with noise. Once that was all stripped away, 2020 Lent truly became a desert.

Our family was being called to reevaluate our priorities. Was our faith as serious as we said now that we did not have Sunday Mass to physically attend? Now that there were no excuses, would we give everything to Him? While that is a question that still is being answered in our daily walk to heaven as a family, Holy Week 2020 became a retreat in our house. Without Church doors being open, our home became a place of worship. We washed feet on Thursday, turned off all media on Friday, attended virtual services, and our spirits rose with the Lord on Easter Sunday. The spiritual consolations were so palpable that my wife and I had a conversation over Easter dinner in joy that the Holy Spirit was making Himself known in our home like never before. And it was all the result of the change of environment from a busy life to one stripped of all our egotistical plans. Even though we were not able to receive our Lord in the Eucharist until months later, God provided with His grace in our renewed desire to come to know Him in the stillness. While the consolations did not last forever, that moment in time was a turning point in our family to expand worship of God from just the Church building into our home. 

We continue to look forward to each Holy Week as a family, but with a slightly different heart. The Holy Spirit has taught our family that to receive God into our lives, we must be poor in spirit. This means that our plans, activities, and lives need to stop and be redirected toward Him. We have to die as Jesus did, so that we can rise with Him and we find that His life in the stillness is greater than anything our nosy, busy lives could ever amount to.