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What Can We Learn From This Pandemic?


By Fr. Paul Abbass

Over a long period of time and through many personal experiences I have come to the conclusion that there is always something to be learned from the good and the bad circumstances and situations we meet along the way.

Lately I have been asking myself what we can learn from the challenges presented by the the Covid virus.
I learned two related things: first; I learned that by working together and sharing in the sacrifices necessary we can face this particular challenge. Secondly I learned that working together and sharing in the necessary sacrifices is not easy; in fact, it can be extremely difficult.

Which in turn caused me to ask myself why is this so; especially as in many instances we heard people speaking of the many positive outcomes of the experience of the last couple of months. People spoke about the benefit of having more time with family, of the joy that comes from reaching out to others and being more considerate of the needs of family, friends and total strangers. Others spoke about rediscovering their love of fishing and on my street there seemed to more than regular numbers of young families out for bicycle rides together or enjoying a walk with their children. There seemed to be a sense of accomplishing something important by working together to make this situation not just a time of sacrifice; but, as well a time of satisfaction in coming to realize that we were helping and contributing to the whole. And yet, there is almost a sense of panic when people consider that there might be a resurgence in cases and the need to return to the practices that helped to keep us safe.

Working toward the common good for a worthy cause is rewarding; but in some ways it goes against much of what our culture has promoted over the last few decades. In so many ways we have become accustomed to living the lifestyle of “what feels good for me is all that matters.” In fact, perhaps the real blessing that arose out of Covid-19 is the reminder to all of us that we are not just individuals; we are a people who recognize their need for others. At the same time we may have also been reminded of the value of considering the needs of others ahead of our own wants and needs.

I believe there is a fear among many that once things return to normal (whatever that is or looks like), that we will lose that sense of community and caring for others. Perhaps this is a good time to recall that there is a faith imperative that invites us to keep in mind the social message of the Gospel. Central to this message is that we are co-responsible for one another and for the earth. This conviction calls on us to see in others the image of our creator and to treat others with the reverence and awe that we profess to hold for our God.

The events of these last few weeks in the United States serve as yet another reminder of the importance of remembering that what affects others affects us. We could be smug in these days and think that this could not happen in our neighbourhood or country; but the truth is that discrimination and prejudice touches all of our communities and therefore all of us have a responsibility to consider our own attitudes towards those who are different from us.

There is much to learn from the recent events that have unfolded throughout our world. I know that they have provided me with a good deal to think about and much that has challenged the truth about myself and my attitudes towards others. I hope it may do the same for you.

Fr. Paul’s reflection was featured in This Month in the Diocese, July 2020. Get your copy here. 


Communications Officer, Diocese of Antigonish

  • Wilma Menzies - July 18, 2020

    I totally agree with Fr Paul’s comments. The agony, isolation, sacrifices all led to kinder & more open hearts. We had to help each other & accept help from others, so we left our pride & arrogance at the door. I hope we will remain kinder, softer, more open when (if) this virus is beaten.
    So good to see you looking so well, Fr Paul. God bless.

  • Joancurrie - July 18, 2020

    It was great to read your message re our experiences with the Covid!It certainly has been challenging in many ways and has made us much more aware of how we are all responsible for each other .Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us!Wishing you the best of health ,Peace,Joy and all that’s good.Joan Currie

  • Dorothy Cooper - July 18, 2020

    Thanks Fr. Paul, I enjoyed your reflection very much, and value your suggestions on lessons learned when we work together to get through Covid 19.

  • Linda Fortune - July 18, 2020

    Hi Father Paul, isn’t it a great day to read this reflexion from you. You are certainly missed in Frenchvale, wishing & hoping for your return is just that, but we do all hope you are doing well, recuperating & getting along better. It was lovely & enlightening to read your message. Thank you for all the years you gave us & many more happy years are wished for you. Hugs to you!

  • Betty MacDonald - August 7, 2020

    I always appreciate the thoughts of Father Paul whether in a sermon or in person or in a posting. He definitely has the insider knowledge necessary to state on this as he has been through so much and all done with such grace and class. God bless you Father Paul.

  • Judy ( Pound ) Clark - August 8, 2020

    Thank you Father Paul..I enjoyed reading your thoughts and agree with you .
    I believe we have taken sooo very much for granted and realize now we are all in this together.
    God bless you Father .

  • John/ Donna Deleskie - August 11, 2020

    What a wonderful reflection of what we have been enduring these last few months and continue to go through. You certainly covered all aspects of Covid-19 and how it has effected us all. This pandemic has certainly opened our eyes to our surroundings and made us more aware of how life can change so quickly. As always you have spoken from the heart and it was wonderful to read your message. Take care and God Bless !

  • Terry MacLean - August 13, 2020

    Covid is the exception not the rule. It is a buffer. A chance to step outside of the day-to-day and examine it. It highlights that which is actually driving us forward, fear of legal repercussions for actions or discipleship to ancient and proved principles. Where the state has formally curtailed the rights of the individual the more dreadful impact of the event has been controlled, as best as we could. Where the economy has trumped all other considerations the death toll, unimaginable in early estimates, has become normal. Few stories talk about the toll that grief has taken among the survivors. How the new society, founded on this experience of community neglect, will express itself. It is interesting that an election is available as a meter. It will show a response from the first days of a community that will measure more things than popularity. Covid is a stop-gap. A period of preparation. When its necessary removal from society is over, many time forty days, what will we come back to, the selflessness taught by concern or the concern solely for the self?