Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Under ordinary circumstances, a bulletin column written on Monday morning retains its timeliness until it appears in print for weekend Masses. Our circumstances, however, are no longer ordinary. By the time you read these words, I honestly have no idea what may have changed. Such is the adventure in which we find ourselves.
With the many precautions we must take to prevent the spread of coronavirus, everyone will begin to experience an enforced disruption of normal life. Many will work from home, students will take classes online, and recreational activity will be severely curtailed. At first, it may be tempting to view this as a vacation, but of course, we know that that is a false illusion. It may take some creativity to stay occupied (or keep children occupied). In all of this disruption, there are some things we can do that will help cope with disruption, live in a healthy way, and grow in our relationship with the Lord.
- Take advantage of extra time—With the cancellation of extracurriculars and many of our normal activities suspended indefinitely, we find ourselves with some extra time on our hands. Take a moment to examine your normal schedule and see where time has opened up for you. Use the time normally reserved for other activities in a new way. The remainder of this list offers some suggestions.
- Make time for daily prayer—This is often a spiritual New Year’s resolution. Given our circumstances, it seems like time for daily prayer is suddenly available! The Rosary takes about 15 minutes. Daily Mass, livestreamed on our Facebook page or one of the local television Masses, takes a half hour or less. Make some time to turn off distractions and noise, and be still with God.
- Read—As tempting as it is to turn on the TV, to binge on our streaming services, or to devote inordinate hours to screen-time, nothing can replace physically taking up a book and turning real pages (although reading on an e-reader of some sort is acceptable). To read is to engage the mind differently. Read books, especially about subjects with which you are unfamiliar.
- Keep your work and study hours as normal as possible—With extra free time, there can be a temptation to convert the time normally reserved for other activities or recreation into “productive” hours. Let’s be careful. Maintaining our normal work and study schedule (albeit with modifications to account for, in many cases, being home all day) will allow us to remain present to family, to maintain the shreds of normal life that we need, and to keep a healthy balance.
- Consider adding some Catholic content to your media consumption—If you haven’t yet signed up for a free account with formed.org, do it now! There are some great study series, movies, and other content for people of all ages. Instead of re-watching your favorite TV series on Netflix for the seventh time, check out some of the Catholic media available.
- Practice an instrument, art, or hobby that you’ve let fall by the wayside—Poor Fr. Tim. He’s an accomplished musician with a special forte for jazz. And he lives with me. I play strings, with an affinity for Irish, bluegrass, folk, and roots music. And he’s about to hear a lot of it, because I intend to start practicing again.
- Experiment with technology-free zones and intervals—As great as it is to be connected, put the devices away for a while. Look out the window. Or actually go outside! Talk to the people in your house! And if no one is there, enjoy the quiet and talk to God!
- Sleep—With activities restricted, why not catch up? Decent sleep makes prayer easier.
- Did we talk about prayer yet?—Lots of things may be cancelled. But God isn’t. In times of crisis and fear, we need the Lord more and more. So turn to God in prayer. Pray for those who are suffering, especially those who suffer from COVID-19. Pray for those who are on the front lines in the medical profession, those who are working on effective treatments, those who are putting themselves at risk for the sake of others.
- Check on your elderly neighbors and relatives—fIt may not be possible to check on them in person, out of abundance of caution. Give them a call, FaceTime, or somehow get in contact. Make sure they have what they need and are taking care of themselves!
We will get through this challenging time. The disruption of our normal is a moment to examine what is most essential, to reprioritize, to focus our attention anew. May this be a period of renewal and purification for us, and may God protect and safeguard us against all maladies, disease, and evil.