The common good has been invoked in discussions surrounding our charge to stay at home, to physically distance ourselves from others, and to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19. Each one of us has been called to pick up our particular crosses: working on the front lines, isolating at home with no one else around, or living on top of one another—kids and parents vying for space. We see grandparents and grandkids through glass walls, unable to give or receive hugs, we spend time with friends via FaceTime and Zoom, and we pray at home instead of joining with our faith community in prayer and sacrifice at the church in celebrating the most holy sacrament of the Mass.
As a single Catholic young adult, I’ve found these past several weeks challenging. Before social distancing, I was anchored by my job and colleagues, and friends and family I visited frequently. Together with regular reception of the sacraments, I found a sense of stability in these practices.
Classes resumed at the University of Notre Dame after the conclusion of an extended Spring Break. My large lecture class, 230 students strong, called “The Catholic Faith,” resumed with the rest of our classes. I showed up to my usual classroom at the usual class time with my usual feeling of nervousness before teaching. I prepared the blackboard as usual, with the topic for the day, “The Descent into Hell, The Resurrection, and the Ascension of the Lord.” Our class is based on the Apostles’ Creed. We have reached the end of the second article. I put on the screen an image of the two classical icons of the Resurrection, the one of Christ descending into Hell and liberating Adam and Eve from the kingdom of the dead, and the one of the Spice-Bearing Women, come, as they thought, to anoint the body of the Lord. At the appointed moment, I started my lecture.