Who knew that the beginning of a new decade would bring a worldwide pandemic that is keeping everyone under house arrest? It can be easy to be caught up in the chaotic noise of media and panic-stricken grocery runs during this time of global panic. However, social distancing can be a real blessing when we stop to consider how rejuvenating a pause in our “normal” routine can be. We can begin to implement, or solidify, a prayer routine into our daily lives with the extra time in our schedules, providing hope and gratitude amidst the anxiety.

Time

It is commonly said that where you spend your time shows where your heart lies. Likewise, making time for Christ is simply strengthening a friendship. Fr. Jacques Philippe, a renowned teacher on the spiritual life, suggests, “to contemplate Jesus…is what really inspires confidence” in us.[1] Jesus is the companion we need to give us hope for the journey in a time of fear and darkness. He provides the road map forward, allowing us to rest easy and knowing that we do not need to blindly navigate ourselves through these fear-inducing days. We can take a step closer to lasting peace by spending time with Christ. If we come to know Jesus, we can begin to understand the way He works. This time of isolation is an excellent opportunity to get to know Christ or deepen our relationship with Him.

Prayer

St. Josemaria Escriva, a priest who consistently encouraged the lay faithful to grow in holiness, once remarked, “A Catholic without prayer? It is the same as a soldier without arms.”[2] Prayer is the armor that enables us to face any crisis with a level head. Our spiritual health relies on a persistent prayer life to get us through the ups and downs of daily life. By praying the rosary, meditating on Sacred Scripture, participating in the Mass, and other daily devotions, we remain connected to God. Like a daily vitamin, prayer provides the nutrients we need for a healthy spiritual life. This time of isolation allows for the implementation of a new prayer routine. Whether it be rosary walks, live streaming daily Mass, or attending a Bible study on Zoom, this time can provide a great opportunity to connect to God in a new way.

Hope

Hope is a powerful virtue, which provides motivation to get through the toughest challenges. However, hope can be fleeting in a time of crisis. We are left with questions, such as: Why is this happening? When will this end? Where is God? God is present in our suffering. Fr. Henri Nouwen teaches, “people who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim…that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness.”[3] Nouwen is correct because Christ is the light. We are living through dark and tumultuous times, but Christ is the light that shines through the darkness. By nurturing our hope in the Lord and His plan, we can look at the light that dispels the darkness instead of focusing on seemingly overwhelming darkness. The closer we stand to the light, the more we recognize how to move forward.

Gratitude

When we experience God’s goodness, it is easier for us to trust in His plans.[4] Looking for God’s guiding hand, especially in a difficult situation, is important if we want to stay positive through life’s challenges. In light of COVID-19, a few blessings that can be discerned for some people may include:

  • more time with family
  • time to catch up on rest
  • an opportunity to finish that project you have been meaning to finish
  • beginning a new hobby
  • time in silence to contemplate God

We begin to recognize God’s gentle presence by realizing our blessings in a trying time. Devoting oneself to daily reflections of gratitude will develop a generous spirit.

This time of isolation does not have to be a curse, but instead, it can be a blessing. It can be a time that we grow deeper in our love for the Lord. As St. Josemaria Escriva says, “Not all of us can become rich, wise, famous…Yet, all of us—yes, all of us—are called to be saints.”[5] We may not become rich materially, especially in this time of layoffs and furloughs, but let us become spiritually rich. Today is the day to be a saint.

 

Recommended Reading:

Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Way Furrow the Forge by St. Josemaria Escriva

Endnotes:

[1] Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe

[2] The Way Furrow the Forge by St. Josemaria Escriva

[3] The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen

[4] Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe

[5] The Way Furrow the Forge by St. Josemaria Escriva