How Covid Affected My Faith


This is part one of a long testimonial that sprang from a single question. If anything, the virus has forced me to think hard about what I believe and why. I do not know when I’ll post the rest. If you’re interested, perhaps I’ll share.

Why is it so hard to talk about faith? I’ve had these thoughts sitting in a Google doc for over a week now, and though the world is hushed and starved for instances of true faith, I feel as if I am breaking some form of politically correct code in simply stating what most of my acquaintances know about me.

Why do we hesitate to talk about and commit to our belief systems? Two things might happen. We could find people who disagree, which is natural, and in a good situation it would end in discussion and understanding. We could also stumble on our own trains of thought and find that thinking about our faith discourages us rather than strengthen it.

I’ve always thought faith was a spiritual gift of mine, though. Based on the Rock as it is, it might have taken a swing or two in bad times, but I’ve never lost it. Simpler faiths have not tempted me. I highly doubt a simpler faith would get me through things such as a worldwide pandemic.

Following months of Covid and plague, a dramatic election, a controversial vaccine, and lots of angry conversations with people suffering in ways I can’t see physically–after all of that, I’ve been seeing posts asking a very important question.

How has Covid affected my Catholic faith?

It would be a lie to say Covid has not affected it. It would be a waste not to use my voice if I can steadily phrase my situation. It would be cowardice to keep it to myself because people are allergic to faith lately. I’m sure more people are looking for a visible, sturdy faith lately than they’d readily admit.

The answer is simple on the surface. People who were already struggling with Catholicism probably lost what little faith they had when thousands of people began to die. People like me who had better-rooted faith are still struggling. I promise there is a struggle. It looks different, though.

When 2021 began, I wanted to do a “positivity hashtag” using JPII’s context of Be Not Afraid. Reality hit me, and it sank in that I could not spread a worldwide message of hope alone when I myself am still human and caught in the uncertainty. I did not give up on the message, but allowed it to affect me. Instead of shoving a hashtag at people, I drank the message in small gulps until I was able to remember God’s faithfulness on the darkest of days.

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I’m not speaking to a room full of angels and divine intervention. That’s okay–I’m not meant to feel that every day. On occasions when I feel that my words are just words, I keep saying them. I might be tired, and it might be difficult to ‘hold the phone’ for me sometimes. However, for God it never is–and I rely on His strength, not mine, to hold the phone.

I therefore feel the need to rearrange my message to the world right now. Be afraid–but don’t let it stop you. Yes, we have reasons to be afraid right now. God is still holding the phone; He is still turning the proverbial wheel. We can be afraid, but when we are, we should always turn to him.

How, then, has Covid affected my Catholic faith? I debated which blog to post this on. My missionary blog has been quiet because I am indeed human and the creative cycle can only do so much when I can’t see peoples’ faces. I’ve managed to write a tiny amount of fiction, and 1k lately is a great writing session.

How has Covid affected my Catholic faith? I no longer feel the need to separate myself the author from the religious believer. I question my choice last year of creating a separate blog to talk about my brothers and sisters, the Saints. I’m not a nice person anymore, because I have opinions that might upset people.

I once saw someone comment somewhere, “I’m a Catholic, but I don’t let it define me.” I suppose I can answer the opposite quite frankly: I am a Catholic, and I do let it define me.

Last week I saw someone say “Being Catholic and being Christian are not the same thing.” I agree; being Catholic means I’m still on the rock that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16. 

I’m not intending to step on toes, but when other people are thoughtless on dropping a comment on the flip side, I don’t understand why I have to be nice and keep the response to myself–because it is not the right thing to do, and you don’t put a lamp under a basket.

I’m not a nice person because people keep ignorantly stepping on my toes, believing in a Jesus built on personal interpretation on a book that was modified to reformers’ liking. However, I digress. My personal faith and another’s will look different. If you agree it’s not Christlike to step on someone’s toes unprovoked, we can move on.

Except maybe we can’t–because I’m getting into history now. History lines up with my testimony. I pay attention to history because we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Since this digresses majorly from the Covid topic, I’m going to meditate before I share the rest. Now at least I know I answered the first question.

To Be Continued (Maybe)…

The Purpose of 2021


At the end of a year such as this, I find myself at a loss for what to say. Parts of 2020 were wonderful, such as seeing my cousins again after so long. Other aspects were nightmarish–imagining all of the people in the world falling sick, picturing empty chairs at Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, the sense of utter helplessness.

I imagine that 2020 changed everyone in some way. As it is now, I have developed a thirst for God again–yes, a thirst for Truth. You can see it in my religious blog. You might notice it if you see the pile of Papal Encyclicals on my desk, waiting to be read. I am single, but I’m in love with Jesus and His Church.

Can there be a love stronger than what I feel for the Church right now? She is a beacon of hope and a chest of treasures. The best memories of my childhood were in religious education class. There is no sweeter aroma to me than the inside of my parish, which I can smell even through the odious face-mask. I think of the days I was preparing for Confirmation–and such a nostalgia grips me that I want to weep.

I can’t–I can’t imagine I would have found this love again, if COVID fear had not sent me back “home.” Hold on to your faith and don’t let go. Bathe your quaking heart in the gentle truth of God’s love; wrap yourself in the safety of Mary’s mantle.

Some of you, like me, might feel inclined to weep as we near the end of this horrific year. Do it–let your tears water your faith. It will grow into a deeply-rooted tree, shade in the heat of trouble, shelter from the storm.

As for me, one day I will teach religious education. One day, I will give other kids the beautiful memories that my religion teachers gave me. When, God, will I be able to do this in person? A blog is all I can manage for now. I pray that this should be in my future–yes, I study and I pray.

My beautiful Idaho in the winter

Many of you might have lost someone this year. I wish I could tell you that time will heal your grief, but if my previous post here tells you anything, it’s that time does not patch up the wound of a lost loved one.

At the Christmas Eve Mass last week, we asked for my beloved grandmother’s name to be mentioned in the prayers for the deceased. When I heard her name mentioned as deceased, my heart hurt–as if she had left us again. It felt like that morning, two years ago, when my dad woke us up on Christmas Eve to say, “Grandma died.”

After prayers were said, the choir played The First Noel, my favorite Christmas song–but I could not sing it. I was crying–so hard that I could not hold a note, or remember the lyrics. I could only kneel and rifle through the beautiful memories of Grandma and her house, the clothes she wore, her scent and her laughter, the deck overlooking her yard. My heart, though grateful that she was with Jesus, felt terrible pain.

It felt as if she had been wrenched from me again.

On the kneeler, I felt relief–and then emptiness–and I sobbed instead to The First Noel, praying in thanksgiving for my grandma’s life. That was all I could do–thank the Lord for her life.

If you need to cry, let your tears water your faith. Don’t hold them in, though; turn to the crucified Savior and cry.

There’s a time for flower beds and there’s a time for ice / The armor of the tree and bush which, frozen, slowly dies…

2021 does not promise to be easier. I’m not afraid of 2021. I wear the shield of faith, and instead of letting it wrench me of hope, I pray that God will use me and my writing to give hope to others.

I’m not afraid of 2021. I am afraid of not seeing a future, of not anticipating being anyone, of being the same person I was before COVID. Let me never be lukewarm again. I am more than a writer; I am a child of God, His ambassador on earth. All Christians have much work to do in His name.

There will have been positive changes in you this year, as well. Perhaps you can’t see them yet; dig deep and you will feel them. Have a good cry and they will surface on your heart. You have a purpose–yes, you, though there are moments you might feel you don’t make a dent in history. You have a purpose; that’s why you were born!

My grandma had a beautiful purpose; now she has gone to Jesus. She left a family aching with rich love for her. Live the sort of life that will form your legacy of love. There is nothing else we should strive to be remembered for, because God is Love.

Enter 2021 ready to find your purpose. I am.

Waiting at the Manger


Last night we made a small pilgrimage to our church, where there is a Nativity scene. Baby Jesus is not there yet; according to tradition, He will be placed in the manger on Christmas Eve. In our house we have a small Nativity scene where Baby Jesus is covered up; He will be revealed on Christmas Eve.

Friends, it has been a year to test all of us; enough has happened to chip away at the faith of the most pious person. We cannot let fear steal away our joy of the holidays. We cannot let fear steal away our joy.

I’m not a theologian. I am a storyteller. Long ago, when I was baptized, I knew Jesus had sent us all out to tell the greatest story of them all: the story of how He came to save us from eternal grief. My short posts on lives of the Saints at Write Catholic are only the result of the first chapter.

What is the first chapter? Is it not when the Creator descended as a babe, helpless in the arms of His Mother, surrounded by the animals blessed to adore Him–already rejected, because there was no room for Him at the inn?

2021 is a good time to erase fear from the inns of our hearts and make space for the gifts that Jesus brought us. In 2020 we were all afraid, and we had reason to be; in 2020, many people lost loved ones and had their lives changed forever.

St. John Paul II’s handwriting encourages us to remember the 365 times that the Bible tells us not to be afraid. Anyone who knows of St. John Paul II’s life can agree that he saw fear; he felt it; he wept when he lost his friends, he must have been frustrated when Parkinson’s debilitated him, and there must have been times when he asked God Why?

He had a purpose, though, and God never gives us more than we can handle. You have a purpose, too; so do I. In 2021, I will follow the words of St. John Paul II and pray for the grace to stand steady in the face of a shifting world.

As survivors of 2020, what might our purpose be? Here are some ideas off of the top of my head:

  • Comfort the mourning. You probably know somebody who lost a friend or family member to COVID; send them a card in the mail and reassure them of your prayer and friendship.
  • Exercise your faith. Like a muscle, faith needs to be put into action daily. Read the Bible or a devotional; sit in silence and wait for the soft voice in your heart to give you instructions.
  • Pray the Rosary. Our Lady gave us the Rosary with the promise that this Sacramental would save the world. She told the children at Fatima that it should be prayed every day. I have made this a practice, and it brings me peace I cannot describe with human words.
  • Count your blessings. A dear friend encouraged me to write my small blessings in a gratitude journal. Be grateful for your breakfast in the morning; be grateful for that line in a song you really love. The more you practice gratitude, the more grateful you will be.
  • Tell someone about Jesus. I can assure you that, in the chaos of 2020, many people have forgotten about Jesus and what He did for us. Tell one person about Jesus this year; remind them that we have not been forgotten, and that we look forward to a better world.
  • Practice charity. Whether it’s donating to a food bank or being kind to someone you do not know, those five dollars might buy a meal–a kind sentence might be the only kindness someone encounters in an entire day. Love covers a multitude of sins–and heals a multitude of hurts.

We are a people of joy, not fear.

Christmas is nearly upon us; I can feel in my bones that we Christians have extra work to do in 2021. Raise the hashtag #2021BeNotAfraid. Seek the positive, the reminders of God in the world. Tell people why you still have hope.

My part in all of this? I am a writer. I can use words to get messages across. I am more than a fiction writer. My interests are in more than fantasy and historical fiction. It is my vocation to keep telling the greatest story in the world.

I believe this is my purpose. Sit down for a while now and ask God…what is yours?