PATTI MAGUIRE ARMSTRONG
Faith gives us focus to see more clearly through raging storms such as the world pandemic we find ourselves in. Of course, God is with us in all of it — and made us for such a time — but that does not always make it easy. Jesus told us to “come unto him” and he would give us rest, (see Matthew 11:28-30), not necessarily to make our burdens go away, but to lighten them.
Finding the blessings and embracing them helps to lift our spirits. Here are some of those blessings.
Time for God
Even as teachers of the faith, it is often hard to carve out time for God with so much else competing for it. We also miss the Eucharist in places where Mass is suspended, which is most places. It’s easy to go daily now through the Internet with hundreds of live Masses broadcast across the U.S. and a few other countries.
You can still make a Holy Hour in your church if it is still open. If not, go to Online Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration for a listing of chapels that broadcast adoration 24/7.
Even as Catholics dedicated to passing on the faith, we sometimes forget that we are just sojourners passing through this life on our way to eternity. It can be a tough balancing act: living life with gusto and zeal while in the world but not of the world. The pandemic reminds us in a big way that our hope is in the Lord. We should pray for our leaders to do their best and be guided by God, but in the end, we know that only God can control things.
More time with family, the people we love most
Surveys consistently show that family time is scarce and that parents feel guilty about that. We can revel in that time now, although remembering that those in the medical field and other essential employees might be working even more hours. We can let them know they are our prayers and think of other ways to support them like enrolling them in Masses or sending a gift card, or mowing their lawn — if it’s growing in your area yet.
Some of our blessings are coming through the suspension of normal activities and some we had already and can take the time now to appreciate them.
Make a “Blessings List.” What are the good things, day by day that are happening because of this pandemic? Are you having more meals with family? Your children have taken a break from outside activities and their outside social life. Yes, there are some stresses that come from that, see the positive and create positive times. There’s less driving around, less wrestling for family time. What are the ways that your life is better and easier?
Do a Rosary of Gratitude before you go to bed, thanking God for something on each bead of the rosary: faith, family, electricity, a bed, plumbing, food to eat, connections with others through the Internet, radio and TV, etc. If finances are precarious right now, the blessing is that you are not alone and there will have to be help because so many are in that boat.
Opportunities for Fun
Be intentional with your extra free time. Pull out the cards and game boards. When is the last time you played checkers? If you don’t have a set, make one with cardboard and paint. Are there any jigsaw puzzles stuffed away? How about guessing games, or talking, or looking at family photo albums? Go for walks and bike rides. These are some of what we mean when we say the best things in life are free.
Charity and love prevail
Now is a great time for charity by writing letters and cards to people in nursing homes or really to anyone including relatives. Yes, we still have a phone — and that is a blessing that people once lived without — but how about writing to people? Send well wishes to people in the military, teachers, doctors, or even the friendly checker at the grocery store that kept smiling despite long lines and harried customers?
Start a journal
Have you ever traveled to a place that had a guestbook or journal? It’s fun to read what others wrote and add your own comments. How about keeping either a personal or family journal during this time? It can give perspective and double as a prayer journal, with feelings, events, and prayers to God all included. Writing is therapeutic, even fun, and nostalgic later on. Sometimes it is the difficult things we look back on and recognize the blessings that came with it.
Time to teach
What are the things you want to pass on to your children? Sewing? Cooking? Bible study? Gardening? Ask them what they would like to learn. With the Internet—another blessing in this age—we can all learn new things. Do you have a teen getting ready to take a permit test? Practice driving time is always in short supply. Not only do you have more time for that, but there are less cars on the road now.
Put music in the air
Let music soothe you, whether playing or learning an instrument. Life just slowed down so now is the time lift your spirits with music. It will also help keep your mind from worrying about things you cannot control. Remember, worry is not a prayer. Find background music that will lift your heart and mind towards God.
Time for Holiness
Amid this time of suffering and uncertainty is the Catholic response. One priest I know calls it our “holy place”. So much clutter of the world has been removed and the reasons to turn to God have intensified. We were never made for this world so the problems that come from it is a reminder of that. It is time to open our Bibles, surrender our lives, and draw closer to God. Get to know the saints and call on them. Pray a rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily.
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
God did not tell us we had to be thankful for everything, just to be thankful in everything. The future is God’s. Take each day at a time and feel the blessings.
Patti Maguire Armstrong is the mother of 10 and was a catechist for 12 years. An award-winning author, journalist, and blogger, her latest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith and Get to Heaven (Ave Maria Press).
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash