How the world has changed since I last wrote! We are being continually updated with the latest developments about Covid-19 and this has had an effect on our spiritual and faith formation programs.
• Class Masses have been cancelled for the remainder of the term.
• Holy Week presentations have been cancelled. We will create a new experience for students to engage with, in Holy Week.
• The Early Years presenting the Palm Sunday story to the parish has also been cancelled.
This will be a great disappointment to some but unfortunately we are living in a time when we must think of the safety of all.
• Altar servers training has also been postponed.
What to do?
Father James Martin S.J. shares some of his Ignatian spirituality and thoughts online. They made me feel calmer and I would like to share them with you.
Resist panic. This is not to say there is no reason to be concerned, or that we should ignore the sound advice of medical professionals and public health experts. But panic and fear are not from God. Calm and hope are. And it is possible to respond to a crisis seriously and deliberately while maintaining an inner sense of calm and hope.
Panic, by confusing and frightening you, pulls you away from the help God wants to give you. It is not coming from God. What is coming from God? St. Ignatius tells us: God’s spirit “stirs up courage and strength, consolations, inspirations and tranquility.” So trust in the calm and hope you feel. That is the voice to listen to.
“Do not be afraid!,” as Jesus said many times.
Do not blame. Resist the temptation to blame, which increases in time of stress and shortages. Covid-19 is not a Chinese disease; it is not a “foreign” disease. It is no one’s “fault.” Likewise, the people who become infected are not to blame. Remember that Jesus was asked about a blind man: “Who sinned, that this man was born blind?” Jesus’ response: “No one” (Jn 9:2). Illness is not a punishment. So don’t blame and don’t hate.
Care for the sick. Do what you can to help others, especially the elderly, disabled, poor and isolated. Take the necessary precautions; don’t be reckless and don’t risk spreading the disease, but also don’t forget the fundamental Christian duty to help others. “I was sick, and you came to visit me,” said Jesus (Mt 25). And remember that Jesus lived during a time when people had no access to even the most rudimentary medical care. Part of the Christian tradition is caring for the sick.
And do not close your hearts to the poor who will suffer even more than the general population. Keep your heart open to all those in need. Don’t let your conscience become infected, too.
Pray. Catholic churches around the world are closing, with Masses and other parish services cancelled by many bishops. These are prudent and necessary measures designed to keep people healthy. But they come at some cost: For many people, this removes one of the most consoling parts of their lives—the Mass and the Eucharist—and isolates them even more from the community at a time when they most need support.
What can one do instead? Well, there are many televised and livestreamed Masses available, as well as ones broadcast on the radio. But even if you can’t find one, you can pray on your own. When you do, remember that you’re still part of a community. There is also the longstanding tradition in our church of receiving a “spiritual communion,” when, if you cannot participate in the Mass in person, you unite yourself with God in prayer.
Remember that Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Mt. 18:20). Remember too that the church is not a building. It is a community.
Trust that God is with you. Most of us will naturally ask: Why is this happening?
There is no satisfactory answer to that question, which at its core is the question of why suffering exists, something that saints and theologians have pondered over the centuries. In the end, it is the greatest of mysteries. And the question is: Can you believe in a God that you don’t understand?
At the same time, we know that Jesus understands our suffering and accompanies us in the most intimate of ways. Remember that during his public ministry Jesus spent a great deal of time with those who were sick. And before modern medicine, almost any infection could kill you. Thus, lifespans were short: only 30 or 40 years. In other words, Jesus knew the world of illness.
Jesus, then, understands all the fears and worries that you have. Jesus understands you, not only because he is divine and understands all things but because he is human and experienced all things. Go to him in prayer. And trust that he hears you and is with you.
We will move through this together, with God’s help.
Many things have been cancelled because of the coronavirus. Love and kindness do not have to be two of them.
Assistant Principal Religious Identity and Mission