“Therefore, in this sacred time of Lent, as we face much evil, sickness, death, and chaos around us, let us keep the eyes of our heart intent on the Divine Physician and thus allow His instrument of healing—His Cross—to more deeply purify and heal our souls in the communion of His Mystical Body, the Church, converting us to God in more generous and faithful love and service” (Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)
In the early 1950’s my Aunt’s sister, divorced and with two small kids, moved into the attic of my Uncle & Aunt’s home. A tight squeeze for sure. Eventually, she went on to become a dancer in the famous Rockettes, toured with Bob Hope in his USO military shows, and married an author. She lived the rest of her life in Beverly Hills. During that time cramped up in a stuffy attic, she likely could not foresee such a future for herself.
Fear of the unknown is an instinctive reaction of self-preservation. There is no doubt it comes from our own psyche and often is inflamed by the enemy. Thus, fear is legitimate but never of God. It is opportunity to turn to God and follow Him, trusting He has a personal plan for our providence. It is important, then, to make choices based in trust of Him rather than our fear.
“The suffering of adversity does not degrade you but exalts you. Human tribulation teaches you; it does not destroy you. The more we are afflicted in this world, the greater will be our joy in the future.” (St. Isadore of Seville A.D. 636)
One of my African students once said, “Whether you see the glass as half full or half empty, there is still twice as much glass as water!”. This is true and the perspective we must take in uncertain times. During this time of the Covid-19 pandemic and accompanying economic recession, we have a tremendous opportunity to ‘rightsize’ our lives and should not let this pass. Any change is a struggle, and that which hits our finances or health is the most painful. But as advised by Frederick Douglass (19th century abolitionist), “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
In business, ‘rightsizing’ is reorganizing resources (which includes the skills of employees) and streamlining down to that which is necessary to sustain its ‘life’. The future that lies before us is a tremendous opportunity to do the same with our life, and the Catholic faith gives us the guide for this. Most of us address the hardballs that life pitches at us in a defensive posture. This leaves us wrestling with decisions, dodging the hits, and scrambling about confused. It is time to step back into the Mystery of Faith and, with feet firmly grounded, look over the landscape of the present and future situation.
Thus, first and foremost, is attending mass. Say what? They’ve been cancelled! In addition to Sunday masses available online from Pope Francis, your local and outlying diocese, EWTN and many local clergy, there is mass televised 7 days a week from around the world. https://mass-online.org/daily-holy-mass-live-online/ It is an opportunity for your family to celebrate in the home like the early Christians under persecution. Setting specific rules for behavior and attention will help children to understand that mass is not entertainment. Together you can pray for spiritual communion with the sacrifice taking place, and experience being part of this Mystical Body of Christ. The beauty of the mass is that it is ongoing every few minutes somewhere throughout the world. At any moment of the day, we can pray for spiritual communion with the mass taking place whether or not we watch it live.
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Just as we know God by His effects, inspirations and actions, we also know satan’s by his. Pray against his wily ways by rejecting these bad spirits by name and handing each to Jesus. Doom, hopelessness, extreme sadness or sentimentality over what appears ‘lost’, extreme anger (and the judgmental thoughts that follow), anxiety, depression…add your own to the list! Don’t forget to pray the Jesus prayer as it purifies the heart and positions you directly to God: Jesus, son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner. It is also valuable to follow with the Spiritual Communion prayer offered for ‘the mass taking place at this moment’, as you not only join in that mass but also can offer yourself and this spiritual attack on its altar as your sacrifice.
First Principle and Foundation (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.
Now armed with spiritual communion and a contrite heart focused on God, attachments can be addressed so life can be ‘rightsized’.
- Do we really need this large house? Parents may need to move in with their kids or vice versa. Or you may need to open up your basement to the obnoxious neighbor with smelly feet whose circumstances have left him homeless. We are to discern the resources that God intends for us to keep in order to serve Him, and then use these in His way not ours.
- Our lifestyles have become one of putting instant gratification ahead of self-preservation. Much of our economy is fueled by these non-essential choices. This is the time for families to find a new way of being ‘family’. You can set a goal of having all meals eaten at the dinner table rather than the minivan or restaurant. Play real cards or board games rather than digital. Set a contest to see if you can get through your day without using an app.
- As schools shut down around the country, many families found themselves homeschooling without notice or preparation. The primary lesson ich whall parents are responsible to give their child is for that child to know they are loved, and to know how to love. This is the only commandment Jesus gave us (Jn 13:34). What they miss out on academically, they will pick up later. This is the time to detox their mind of worldly thinking which teaches that they, and their relationships, are disposable; that promotes illusion of self-perfection through transgenderism, sexual acts at any age, body morphing; that has utterly destroyed their identity before they have lived life long enough to discover themselves. Let this be a time of true discovery, guided by God’s precepts not man’s.
- Much of the country is telecommuting. Telework has been promoted for 30 years, yet organizations remain reluctant to put it into use. The workforce now has opportunity to demand family-first policies such as telework and to find creative ways of getting the work done. Take advantage of this.
- Finally, allow yourself to have fun! When was the last time you played tag in the yard? Rolled down a grassy hill? We spend most of our waking hours in stuffy offices or classrooms; get outside! Whether telecommuting or laid off, our country has been given a vacation together. Immerse yourself in your family, make contact with friends, and learn to relate again.
St. Teresa of Avila wrote of a wealthy man who lost everything, left with just that needed for his family’s well-being. That means he had everything he needed. 😊 We have become a culture that seeks fulfillment everywhere except where it can best be found: in God and home. Make God the center of your home and your home the center of your fulfillment, and your priorities will fall into place because they will be ordered to your vocation.
It is Easter. Alleluia! A time of joy, not sorrow! Accept God’s love and share it with others, for we need it more than ever before. The only reason we do not have more miracles occurring is because we do not believe they will happen. God is standing by ready to hand them out. Believe!