Adapting to COVID-19

I left the Passionist Novitiate after four years of high school and one-half year of novitiate. Today, I see that time as the gift of a lifetime. One of the things I learned in that very early life experience, was the value of routine. I learned it so well, that after I left the novitiate, people close to me used to complain and challenge me to let go of some of my routines. I found that to be very difficult.

Jan Stanley in her 2016 TEDx talk, Routines: The Unexpected Power of Habits, Practices, and Rituals reinforces for me the value of my early training. In light of the COVID-19 today, though, I remember more the challenges that come with life changes. 

When I left the novitiate, I had to change my routines. When I started college, I had to change my routines. When I entered the work force…I had to change. These life experiences challenged me to adapt that is to identify which routines, habits and rituals, I would keep, and which ones to discard. All this changing is what we Passionists are supposed to be so good at, i.e. identifying the dying in our lives and rising to our new life.

Today I believe COVID-19 is challenging me and all of us to identify what is important to us and in that light, change our individual as well as our collective routines, habits and rituals. I find it interesting that COVID-19 comes to us in the United States in the middle of an election years, when we are expected to do just that. It is a time to choose the leaders who will help us identify, evaluate and probably change, drop and find new routines.

My hope and prayer for all of us is that we can take this time COVID-19 has afforded us, to do just that. In the coming weeks, I would like to share some changes I will be making in light of COVID-19 and invite you to do the same either by writing in the comment section or writing a post to publish on this blog. My only guideline will be that we share the changes we will personally make and how this or these changes relate to our life’s experience. 

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

A Gift of Grace

Last night, a gift of grace!
"Merici" came to die
From nearby nursing home

Our doctors did their best
Her heart and lungs were spent
With ninety-four long years

Merici’s hour drew near
Without a single kin
No family / friend appeared

An echo from the past
“My God! My God! Oh, why
Have You forsaken me?!”

I whisper in hear ear
I stroke her clammy hand
My sacred space, beside her

Heart rate first read sixty
The monitor’s slow descent…
To forty…down…to…naught

Merici’s voyage to God
Unseen, unshared, unmourned
Except for privileged me

“Be kind, accepting, Lord!
Forgive her any fault!
Embrace her! Again! For me!”

I voice a hope-filled prayer:
Our middle name is “Weakness”
But Thine is truly “Mercy!”
Fr. Frank Keenan, C.P.

After more than sixty years of priesthood, forty-two spent at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, Father Frank Keenan, C.P. retired from active ministry a couple of years ago and now resides in a local nursing home where he writes poetry and gladly shares stories of his life as a Passionist.