The New Normal

These days re-opening and returning to normal are on our minds. When can we go back to our lives? What will the normal look like? Will it be really normal? These are the questions that captivate not only the average citizen but also those in power. If these days of stay-home order have been so unsettling and unfamiliar, the “normal” seems to be a bigger unknown.

We may not know what the “normal” may look like. But we can determine certain things within our control to make it the way we want. Some days ago, a friend of mine from Italy sent me a quote that captured my imagination. Talking about the new normal, it said, “We should return not to what we were, but rather to what we should have been.”

We like the familiar. The unknown unsettles us. We hope and pray that we can return some day to the way we used to live. The challenge for us is to return to a different normal, a normal that we can make happen. This period of seclusion has taught us what is really significant and what is superfluous and insignificant. Can we hold on to those important aspects of our lives and jettison the rest?

This time has been a time for family. The majority of us have been forced to spend time with our families. Even though at first some of us might not have liked it, eventually we learned to cherish our time together. We even got creative with our time – cooking meals, playing board games, having long conversations, playing practical jokes and reminiscing. We have begun to understand how precious this time together has been. Especially for those families with children ready to go to college, this time has been a gift. If we can enjoy each other this much, why can’t we continue to make quality time with our families a priority when the normal arrives?

This time has been a time for God and faith. Many parishioners let me know how much they appreciate our on-line Masses and prayers (Stations and Rosary). More people have attended our daily and Sunday Masses on line than those who normally come to church. People continue to find ways to encounter Jesus even though they miss receiving the Eucharist and cannot wait for the day when they can actually receive Communion. Many individuals are reading the Sacred Scriptures and spending time in personal prayer. Families are gathering together to pray the Rosary. If we can devote time to God and the development of our faith during this difficult time, why can’t we make God our priority all through the year? Why can’t we commit to Sunday Mass not just occasionally, but always?

This time has been a time for setting priorities. Before the shut down, we loved so many things -sports, movies, TV, and entertainment in general. We spent a great amount of time on these trivial pursuits. Some time ago I read somewhere that on any given day the people on the globe watch one billion hours of YouTube videos. What a waste of time! When the shut down happened, suddenly many of these things were snatched away from us. No more sports on TV and no going to the movies! And we are surviving! Believe me, I like entertainment as much as the next guy. However, during this time we have learned to change our priorities. Why not continue to give our hearts and minds to things that really matter, to questions that are really important?

This time has been a time for taking care of ourselves. In our busy lives, we take care of everyone else and sometimes neglect ourselves. For many of us, work takes over our lives. These days, some of us who are unable to go to work, have begun to dedicate time for self-care. Many of us exercise regularly. Some of us have started cooking and eating healthy. We have gotten more sleep and rest. If we can set aside time for ourselves under the stay-home directive, why can’t we continue to lead healthy, restful lives when the normal comes?

One unintended but happy consequence of this time of inaction has allowed our earth to breathe again. With factories shut down and cars left in garages and driveways, air pollution has dramatically diminished across the globe. Images from around the world show blue skies, greater visibility and cleaner air. An image from Punjab, India, featured the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas seen from a hundred miles away. Residents in that place had not been able to see those peaks for over three decades. Wild animals were roaming urban neighborhoods as if to say that they were ready to reclaim their habitats lost to progress. Hopefully we will admit that we can do something to preserve and protect our green earth for the sake of generations to come.

So here is our challenge. Do we want to return to the way we were? Or, do we want to enter a future that is much better? Are we ready to fashion a world as it was always intended to be – more loving, more caring, making room for God and faith, and holding on to things that really matter. “We should return not to what we were, but rather to what we should have been.”

May God help us! Let us do our part.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

Liturgical Schedule


   Monday through Friday

   8:30 am - Upper Church


   4:30 pm - Upper Church


   7:30 am - Upper Church

   9:00 am - HFC

   9:30 am - Gym

   10:30 am - Upper Church

   12:00 pm - Gym


   1st and 3rd Friday

   after 8:30 am Mass

   (must attend Mass first)



   3-4 pm - Upper Church


   8-9 am - Upper Church

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church


4:30 pm (vigil) - Upper Church


7:30 am - Upper Church

9:00 am - Holy Family Chapel

9:30 am - Gym

10:30 am - Upper Church

12:00 pm - Gym