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Out of my comfort zone and into the bunker

The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled fear in many. We feel an urge to withdraw, hide, be safe. That does not work if you feel called to spread the joyful message of Christ’s Gospel, and it is even less effective if you are a seminarian tapped by God to step way out of your comfort zone to do so.

I spent much of the COVID-19 lockdown at Holy Spirit parish in Annandale, where I was challenged to put together a video catechesis series, “From the Bunker with Sem John.” This labor of love started in prayer, where God opened my ears to hear him in his first language, silence. There the Holy Spirit opened my heart to a variety of new ways, from the serious to the fun, to find Jesus and share him with others in these uncertain times.

As I walked around the church grounds, God continued to remind me of his presence through statues of Jesus and Mary, the first buds of spring — and through the activity and love of the most important treasure of the parish, her people.

I was familiar with the idea of Christ’s mystical body, but witnessed it come to life through the people who helped produce the series: the office staff, youth ministry team, teachers, parishioners and even my fellow seminarians. It wasn’t just the topics of the talks, which ranged from hope, divine mercy, eucharistic holy hours and even the Olympics. Rather, it was the Holy Spirit’s gifts revealed to me through others: the seminarian who taught me how to throw a boomerang, the parishioner who taught me to chant the Divine Mercy chaplet, those who patiently filmed and edited … In the end, it was God elevating us as one body to give him the glory for our gifts, for our love that comes from him.

It was clear that even in the time of shutdown, I was not alone, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Cor 12:14). We still can and must be closely united in this time of separation during the virus and continue striving to give glory to God. If we do not, then we will end up alone, sealed off in our own bunker without one another and without God, and that is a far worse death than the virus.

How is God asking you to step out of your comfort zone to serve his mystical body?

O’Farrell, who is from the Basilica of St. Mary Church in Alexandria, is in his third year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020