The world will never be the same again after the Covid-19 pandemic finally ends (whenever that may be!).
Every generation faces at least one mega-crisis that forever changes the way the world operates. In my lifetime so far, it had been the events on 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. Each of these events shocked us and had global ramifications we are still dealing with today.
From what we have seen to date, the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic will have lasting effects. We just have to wait and see how they unfold.
In the meanwhile, let’s try to live in the present. And by the present, I don’t mean what’s the latest with the Covid-19 pandemic, I mean, you: “How are you doing today?”
Unfortunately, for most of us, our answer to that question will in some way relate to the coronavirus pandemic. There is a tremendous weight of fear and anxiety that has overwhelmed many of us. Some of it is legitimate – we are after all rightly concerned for our loved ones and ourselves because we simply don’t know what tomorrow may bring. Some of our distress is also fueled by the news media and social media, currently flooded with coronavirus-related news and information.
But we need to ask ourselves:
What is the state of our relationship with God amid all the Covid-19 stuff that’s going on?
Have I allowed the devil to maximize my sense of fear and hopelessness?
Do I remember that this is still the season of Lent?
Lent is a season of purification. During this time, we adopt penitential practices to rid ourselves of unhealthy attachments and strive to grow closer to God, in preparation for the great feast of Easter that marks the resurrection of Christ and the triumph of Jesus over sin and death.
This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a unique set of challenges in all our lives, making for a unique Lenten experience. With all the current craziness, there will be a temptation to give up some of our Lenten penitential practices. Whether or not we do so, will depend on individual circumstances and responsibilities.
For instance, if you committed to spending an hour in Eucharistic Adoration everyday, you probably had to stop doing that as your church has likely been closed by now. Moreover, if you now have kids at home with classes having been canceled, you may need to make yourself more available to them. Similarly, if you pledged to skip a meal regularly during Lent, that may not be the most prudent thing to continue doing right now, at a time when it is essential to keep our bodies and immune systems strong to minimize any risk of infection – both for our own sake, but also for the sake of those around us. On the other hand, if you planned to limit your use of TV or social media this Lent, there may not be a sufficient reason to give up that penance just yet.
Either way, never forget that the devil is subtle, cunning, powerful, and very smart. He will try every tactic he has to distract us from God during this ongoing pandemic, especially to try to make us forget the significance of observing the Lenten season in anticipation of the glory of Easter. He will especially play on the pandemic-related fears and worries already on our minds to meet this objective.
Here are three ways to beat the devil and continue to stay true to the season of Lent during these difficult times:
- Faith: Through the virtue of faith, we believe in God and all that he has said to us. The saints stand as giants of faith that we can strive to imitate during this time. If you’re stuck at home these days, read the life of any saint (online or through a book) and you will see what I mean. It is abundantly clear how their faith kept them strong in the most challenging of situations.
If we are living in undue fear right now, then we are not living in faith. Our faith starts with us trusting God in prayer and surrendering ourselves completely to him. If we trust that we have a father in heaven who knows our needs, before we even ask for them (Matthew 6:8), then we can trust that God will be with us during this tumultuous time and see us through it – even if the particular trials in our lives become especially burdensome.
- Hope: Hope keeps us from discouragement and is the quality by which we anchor our souls in Christ. We should certainly be prudent and careful during this time. After all, there is a real possibility of catching the virus that is going around. But we should also place our hope in our all-powerful God.
Throughout history, there have been countless natural and man-made disasters, but God has never forsaken his people. As the psalmist tells us:
“God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.”
In addition, never forget that we are not made for this world – we are made for heaven. And while we should certainly live in the hope of a better tomorrow in this world, we should also pray for a greater outpouring of the virtue of hope in our lives, so that we may even more ardently desire to one day enjoy the kingdom of heaven and eternal life.
- Love: Among countless lessons that Jesus taught us through his Cross, two are particularly of value during this pandemic. The first is that Jesus showed us that love is expressed in action. There are people all around us right now who are alone or who may need help in various ways. Love them in action. This may involve helping your elderly neighbor get groceries. Or it may require you to give your spouse a night off as he/she deals with the new reality of working from home (including possibly a home filled with screaming kids). It may also be a good idea to reflect on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to see how else you can love others in action.
The second lesson I wish to highlight from the Cross is its sacrificial dimension. Jesus showed us his love through sacrifice – dying to himself – by dying on the Cross. Everyone’s nerves are a bit frayed as we continue to grapple with the unknowns and ever-changing situations related to this current pandemic. Seize every opportunity you get to make sacrifices – big or small – for someone else in these days.
Love is at the heart of the Christian faith and in these difficult times, we can witness to our faith in the way we love God and those around us. The greatest benefit of acting through the virtue of love is that the fruits of love are joy, peace and mercy (CCC 1829) – all of which are much-needed right now.
Living our lives rooted in faith, hope and love, especially during this pandemic, will root us more deeply in God, not just for the Lenten season, but for beyond it too. We don’t know how this pandemic will unfold and how it will continue to affect us. But we know God. We can trust and hope in God.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?”