Pray, hope and don’t worry
As 2020 draws to a close and we can begin to look at it in hindsight, you might be forgiven for wondering whether we unwittingly strayed into the Twilight Zone.
At what point did terms like ‘social distancing’, ‘iso’ and ‘one-point-five metres’ become household jargon? When did face-masks become a fashion statement? And what exactly does ‘new normal’ mean?
If you feel as if the world flipped upside down and inside out almost before you could blink; if you feel like you just can’t keep up with the new rules about what you can or can’t do; if you’re feeling scared, overwhelmed or just very, very confused, allow me to assure you: you’re not alone.
I’m willing to bet just about everyone feels like this. Things changed so much, so fast some of us are still recovering from whiplash. How do we respond to so much turmoil?
St Padre Pio told the faithful: “pray, hope and don’t worry” – but how can we when each day brings fresh news of death, mental health decline and economic and social disaster?
It can be easy to get weighed down when faced with all this, and even more so by the question of what life will look like in 2021. However, let me also assure you that things are not as terrible as they seem, and there is plenty of reason to hope.
For a start, the average age of death for Australian COVID victims (81.1 for men, 85.2 for women) is actually higher, or older, than the average death rate overall (80.7 and 84.9 for respectively). Even for over-70s there’s a 94.6 per cent survival rate (99 per cent for everyone else), according to the CDC, and of all those who have died in the US during the pandemic, only six per cent (about 9700 people) died solely from COVID with no accompanying illnesses or conditions. These are all reasons to be hopeful.
And while it’s good to know these facts, it’s even more important for us to cultivate a spirit of detachment. That is, creating an emotional distance between ourselves and the state of the world.
Popular American priest Fr Chad Ripperger exhorts the faithful to periodically step away from the news completely to “clear your head”.
“A person should be able to walk away from it and not be stewing or thinking about it,” he said in a recent talk. “Once the emotions begin to quieten down then the judgement can come in and start looking at things more objectively.”
We should then make acts of trust and confidence in God such as, ‘God, I have perfect confidence in you’. Making time to walk away from the news, to practise emotional detachment and acts of trust in God are the antidote all of us need to find hope and clarity during these troubled times, says Fr Ripperger.
At the end of the day, we should remember that God is in charge. He has guided His faithful through floods, plagues, earthquakes, wars, starvation, and all kinds of devastation. He will get us through this pandemic. Just put your faith and your trust in Him.
As St Pio tells us: “pray, hope, and don’t worry”.