Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone! I’ve always loved how we celebrate this day in the U.S. where everyone is Irish for at least a day – with the wearin’ of the green, drinking green beer, eating green mashed potatoes, singing the song of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football team – whatever it took to feel the Gaelic spirit on the 17th! And that included dyeing the Chicago River green this one day a year. I hope Chicago does it this year because we need green, the color of hope.
I am sorry for the people or Ireland where, because of Covid, pubs had to close a day before St. Patrick’s feast day! No more cryin’ in your beer, I guess!
In any case, folks, celebrate! Celebrate life and family and friends and faith! Celebrate wonderful past memories and make new, even more wonderful, memories! Celebrate love and caring and living and laughing and sharing – even if we have to do that at safer distances now!
Internet and social media, thank the Lord, have made caring and sharing so much easier! With the coronavirus and quarantine and the many restrictions imposed on us, we still reach across the miles with Twitter and Facebook and emails. Miles are crossed in an instant and those messages across miles create countless smiles and much joy!
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your messages in these days! My email Inbox is never empty. Facebook messages, public and private, pour in non-stop! I will be eternally grateful for this caring and sharing, for putting a smile on my face in the morning and keeping it there all day!
On this special day (I am a quarter Irish – Galway and County Mayo), I say: “go raibh maith agat!” Gaelic for “Thank you!”
QUARANTINED: LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT
In my column yesterday, I wrote about life under quarantine in a somewhat general sense of what we are all asked or mandated to do in Italy where coronavirus has struck so viciously. At the end of that column, I told everyone to tune in today to discover how I’m personally doing under quarantine, how I accept limitations, what I have learned about myself and the land I live in. Tomorrow I will give you a look at some of the stories you may not have heard from Italy.
I am a people person as everyone who has ever met me knows! I live alone and have for many years – and that has helped a bit in the current situation – but my life, each day, is filled with people and activity. There is work and interviewing people and taping TV shows and seeing my EWTN and journalist colleagues at the Vatican press office.
As you could well imagine, I attend luncheons and dine ever so frequently with local friends and out-of-town visitors. There are all kinds of receptions and press conferences and symposiums and international events. Life is filled with people. At times I yearned for a quiet evening at home.
And now I have those evenings!
And mornings and afternoons!
But, as the saying goes, when life gives you a lemon, you make limoncello!
I love my home and cherish every minute in this beautiful place – even if imposed. I have a thousand things I can do and write and clean and organize. My dining table is always set for four people and I change the settings often. Right now it is beautifully set for 6 people (my last dinner party was 6) and I can’t wait to start planning a menu and go shopping again for a new party!
I have an enviable library of fiction and non-fiction and books written and signed by friends and travel books and a plethora of volumes about Popes and the Vatican and the Church and Saints. Right now, I can’t say I have no time for reading!
The frosting on the cake is that I look at St. Peter’s Dome from my living room and dining room!
As you may have sensed, I am an optimist, a Pollyanna if you will, an innately happy person. I can make of life what the cards have dealt me – and even make limoncello! In fact, I just might have to include lemons when I finally go to the grocery store!
Thus, I am dealing with things. I have to say that I am most affected by the silence of city life now – few cars, fewer busses, the rare motorbike or police siren, the lack of people walking and talking on the streets. After all, a city with the noise of traffic and horns and sirens and even people who shout at each other is a city alive!
To defeat that all-enveloping silence, I have music and that is both uplifting and consoling. I’m listening to magnificent Andre Rieu as I write. I’ve found some interesting channels on Italian TV but do miss my satellite connections with US channels, especially news.
And we often have music here at 6 pm when people gather at the windows of their homes and on their balconies, terraces and even the rooftops of their buildings to sing, shout out greetings, play an instrument or dance a bit to music from their cell phone.
Italians are very gregarious, generous, fun-loving, family-loving people who cherish any moment to be together so they’ve made the best of the life-altering situation created by the coronavirus. And, if anything has been contagious, their love for life and their songfests have been!
I think every living soul has discovered in the current crisis what they probably knew before but never verbalized: we are all people persons. We need each other, we need families, we need all generations, the newborn and the grandparents, we need to know that people care, that, put together, we are community.
Perhaps, as never before, we need to feel and see that solidarity, that sense of community, even a strong sense of faith. Our faith in practice has been put to the test but, boy, has it come alive in these days as people seek to find a church open for personal prayer, an online Mass (and there are many of these, Deo gratias!), or perhaps an online rosary recited by a priest or bishop or family member.
We cannot have the Eucharist or go to confession but, if all our prayers and novenas and rosaries make even a small dent in the Lord’s heart, we will soon be back together with our faith communities.
Two important moments in my days here (and I probably should have started with this!) are when I go online for daily Mass with Fr. Greg Apparcel, rector of the American faith community of St. Patrick’s, and when I participate in the noon Angelus, rosary and litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary recited by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, and several faithful at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s. That is also streamed by Vatican media.
What do we have if not faith!
Faith in God above all, faith in mankind, faith that science will come up with a vaccine or cure for this devastating virus, faith that families who were not close will come together, faith that close families will inspire others, faith that communities will come out of this crisis stronger than ever, with an ever greater sense of moral courage, of solidarity, of caring and sharing.
Thanks for sharing your time with me now!
God bless you! God bless me! God bless all of us!
May God sit on your shoulder today!
PS – Am just about to hit PUBLISH and, incredibly enough, Andre Rieu’s orchestra is playing “Happy Days are Here Again!”