“Ask a Priest: How Do We Stay Sane Amid All the Conflicts Going On?”

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Q: Do you have any advice in how to stay sane these days? I’m not trying to be funny, but am asking most sincerely. It seems there is not one, I truly mean no one, with whom I agree about anything! Masks, the virus vaccines, politicians, where to go to Mass … it’s horrible! I cannot stand wearing a mask to Mass and seeing roped-off pews and giant bottles of hand sanitizer in place of holy water. There are healthier churches where such insanity doesn’t exist, but if you go to one of those, other folks see you as a nut and a traitor. And then there was a priest who turned away a beloved family of 11 children from Christmas Eve Mass because they wouldn’t mask up! The same priest yelled at me when I asked him about the vaccines, telling me that they were fine. Then there is and was the idolatrous worship of certain political leaders. You see, Father, it’s beyond tough for me these days and it permeates everything! How do I strike a balance and stay sane? – T.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: The short answer for staying sane is to keep your focus on Jesus.

The value of receiving the Eucharist is worth any inconvenience. So, you might want to consider wearing a mask if it helps to keep the peace and serves the common good. A big part of life is choosing our battles well — and the wearing or not wearing of masks is probably not one of those battles.

As for the vaccines: Catholics aren’t obliged to get them, though it would be prudent to consider the common good.

You can read up on the vaccines at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Two suggestions are an interview and this article. More broadly, the Making Sense of Bioethics columns are worth keeping an eye on.

Beyond that, it might help to focus on your prayer life as well as acts of charity for others. Try to spend your energy on things you can do, not on debates with others.

Media and the Internet are full of distortions, and they can leave us feeling overwhelmed. It might not be worth it to try to argue various points with people. That can burn you out.

Rather, look for things that can unite people — volunteer projects; programs to help the poor and elderly; things to support pro-life causes and family life.

By focusing on these kinds of things, you can make a difference in people’s lives. And you can avoid the pitfall of feeling overwhelmed.

Recall Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28 — “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

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  1. There’s an old saying that whatever you focus on (eg, love, hate, good news, bad news, prayer, selfish attitudes, humility, pride, conflict, despair, helping others, indifference, etc) grows in your heart and becomes stronger and stronger.

  2. I can totally relate, that was the same with us and instead of staying in that parish we chose to go to another. It is prudent to go and talk to your pastor in an humble state of fraternal correction but when the pastor is not conforming to the precepts of the Catholic Church and there is no change, then find a good and holy priest and parish to be able to partake in all the glorious sacraments and sacramentals.

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