Deacon John R. Isaac
Deacon John R. Isaac

Editor’s Note: The past year has been overwrought with countless stories of people here and around the world having to bear their pandemic crosses.

As Christians live through a second Lenten season with COVID-19, four clergy from the Diocese share personal reflections of encountering Christ during sickness, isolation, sacrifice and loss. Though these experiences will likely extend beyond Lent, the Lord, they agree, will continue to carry them through.


After taking my daughter’s advice to get a COVID-19 test, I was shocked to learn that I had tested positive – as did my wife one week later. I ended up self-isolating for 20 days.

During those many hours of isolation, my thoughts drifted over the difficult months of 2020. A year of high unemployment, illness, death and loneliness. It seemed cruel not being able to be with our own adult children, grandchildren, extended family or friends.

My quarantine was but a moment, compared to what we have gone through over the past year. I believe that the Lord has allowed a “time-out” in this fast-paced world for me to reflect on what’s really important.

Prior to COVID-19, did I really appreciate all the freedom of interaction between family and friends? Or did I take everything for granted? Was I abrupt over nonsense with my adult daughter, who now puts her life in danger as a counselor to the medical community in the hospital? Have I appreciated the small favors of friends? I am much more aware after they stopped by my door with homemade soup or fruit during my illness. How lost I would be if my wife, Mary Ann, didn’t recover from the virus. I thank her for putting up with me under “cabin fever” syndrome.

The Lord has allowed me a “heads-up” during this pandemic to appreciate the importance of the gift of life itself. I’ve been given this opportunity to pray more and complain less, especially in the Lenten season. This is a great time to get closer to the Lord each day by praying with an open heart, to recognize His love in each person and to appreciate all that I have been given – especially in a world that appears to be filled with anger and division.

I ask the Holy Spirit to allow the Light of Jesus’ love to shine through me, and be reflected to all those I encounter – regardless of race, religion and neighborhood, “blue or red” – and to embrace the goodness in all God’s creation.

Deacon John R. Isaac serves in St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square.