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Pandemic optimism

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“Let us belong totally to God, and be of good cheer, trusting in him.”

-St. Francis de Sales

It can be hard to be cheerful during this crisis that currently plagues the world. Stores are closed, education is online and friends remain at a distance — at least 6 feet, to be exact. However, no trial is too trying and no setback can obstruct progress when we trust in God. The Covid-19 crisis presents everyone with numerous inconveniences with which we have to cope. But the Lenten season that we just spent six weeks living teaches us that all our struggles have a redemptive quality.

At Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, many unexpected modifications entered the schedule, especially for seniors. From canceled trips, digital graduation ceremonies and lack of cafeteria fries, anyone would be right in saying the year has not gone as planned. And yet, these adjustments present unexpected opportunities. Students have more time to spend picking up hobbies, improving specialized skills and being with their families before leaping into the college experience.

At Bishop Ireton, six seniors are chosen every year to become Salesian Leaders for their senior class. Among their duties is to select a guiding quote for the year. The quote above is a simplified paragraph from St. Francis de Sales and highlights three important practices we can put to use, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. First, above all else, we are called to belong to God fully in all things. When we belong to God, our struggles are bearable through him and give glory to him. Second, we should be cheerful. This does not necessarily mean we need to be happy. Happiness implies enjoyment with our present condition whereas cheerfulness is accepting the situation and making the best of what is given because we know there are better times ahead. Lastly, we must trust in God because he is the driving force behind all things. Without trust, we cannot be cheerful.

St. Francis de Sales emphasized the “little virtues,” a set of traits he found especially profound in everyday life. These include cheerful optimism, gentle strength and humility. These virtues can be displayed with family at home and make social distancing just a little more joyful. Trust in God cheerfully and belong to the plan he has for humanity. We have the mental and spiritual fortitude to endure the Covid-19 pandemic with his help.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020