Taking a pause during the pandemic

In this time of pandemic and social upheaval, I continue to pray for all those discerning their vocation, that they have found ways to cope with the quarantine and chaos. Although many places across the country are beginning to reopen, I believe we are still very much in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. For that reason, I remind those discerning to be gentle with themselves. Even as we return to “normal life,” it likely will not be normal for a while. In these times of crisis and transition, it’s inadvisable to be in serious discernment.

Let me explain. Now is not the time to make sudden and drastic changes. As I continue to correspond with young women who are discerning their vocation, I remind them that they are more than welcome to inquire about what religious life might look like, or to check out a new career, or to look into moving somewhere else. However, it’s always best to actually make these decisions when they are of a clear mind. It’s best to make the big decisions without the many life changes the virus has forced us into.

We recently marked June 1 as a National Day of Mourning and Lament as we prayed for 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in the U.S. As I write this, just a week later, that number has already risen to 112,000. On Pentecost, here in the Cincinnati Archdiocese, our parishes resumed public, in-person Masses — and as we returned to our parish churches, we carried that sense of sorrow with us, praying to the Holy Spirit to renew us, the church.

To discern is to know God, to understand God’s plan for us and for our lives. I pray that in this time of isolation and loss, each of us may cultivate patience, compassion and empathy, so that when “normal” — or some version of it — returns, we may see our path more clearly and feel the strength of the Spirit to walk it with confidence.

Story by Jenna Legg

Sister Mary Lou Schmersal photo.

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