Living the Corona Pandemic in Faith

Epidemics have been documented throughout human history. The Spanish Flu spread worldwide between 1918-1919 and is recorded as the most serious pandemic in modern history. Saints Francisco and Jacinta, two of the visionaries of Fatima, died during this pandemic.

About 500 million people were infected worldwide resulting in the loss of life of 50 million people. The United States lost close to 675,000 people.  All age groups were impacted.  Like today’s coronavirus, there was no vaccine or cure.  Similar safety measures were implemented that included hand washing, use of bleach and other disinfectants, “social distancing” and quarantine.   Reports as of 4/23/2020 indicate that COVID-19 has affected close to 2.7 million people worldwide since November 2019.

We have learned the virus spreads via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and comes in close contact with another.  A person can get COVID-19 by touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them and then touching their own mouths, noses, or eyes.

What can we do to stop the spread of COVID-19?   STAY HOME.

What can we do to remain a little safer?  Avoid close contact with sick people.  Cough and sneeze in our sleeve or cover with a paper towel/tissue and immediately throw away.  Wash our hands often, especially when we enter our homes.  Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects as often as we can using a bleach or alcohol-based cleaner.  If feeling sick, stay home unless going for medical care.

MOST IMPORTANT:   Wash our hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coming in from outside, after blowing our noses, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.   Avoid touching our eyes, noses, and mouths with unclean hands.  In the absence of soap and water use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

EQUALLY IMPORTANT:  If one needs to go out wear a facial mask and gloves.   Practice social distancing that is maintaining at least 6 feet.    We all need to obey the control efforts put in place to stop the spread of COVID 19.

Being on home confinement I soon realized the constant COVID-19 updates were very depressing.  I stopped listening to the media coverage and chose rather to delve further in the Word of God, reflecting on this situation in the context of my Catholic faith.  The Saturday preceding Holy Week I watched the Ten Commandments, a movie I had seen at least 30 times.  As you know, this scripturally based epic recounts the people of Israel in bondage and the calling of Moses to lead them out of Egypt to the promised land.  The story tells us of the plagues that fell on Egypt prior to the Exodus of the Israelites.  The account in which the first born of Israel was spared because their families heeded Moses’ direction to put blood on their doors and the angel of death passed over these families resonated for me.   In the movie and recorded in the book of Numbers the Israelites’ patience wore out by the journey to the promised land and they began to complain against God and Moses.   God sent serpents who bit many of the Israelites who consequently died.  Moses then interceded by praying for the Israelites.  God asked Moses to mount a serpent on a pole and those who had been bitten looked at the pole and recovered.  The movie and especially the parting of the Red Sea scene, this year, took on a completely different meaning for me.

This pandemic has been a faith challenging season for me.   There are those attempting to determine the cause for the COVID-19 outbreak.    Others have declared it to be the end of the world and/or the anger of God.   I know not the reason for the pandemic, nor do I believe it is the end of the world.

My moments of personal faith reflection have led me to some conclusions:

  • Romans 14 tells us: “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.  For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”  God has called so many of his children home during this pandemic.   People we love have left us, but faith may be our reminder that God loved them more.  Life is a gift from God and our lives belong to God, the “Author of Life”.
  • It is by God’s grace that people have remained corona-free, people have recovered and gained immunity to COVID-19. In no way are we worthy or more deserving than those who succumbed to Corona.  We are dependent on the grace of God.
  • This COVID-19 situation calls me to humble myself before GOD and in the words of Hosea “Come back to God”. A priest said during his homily recently that each time we wash our hands during this pandemic we should be asking God to cleanse us of our sins and wash us of our iniquities.   This is a season of repentance and God seeks our true conversion.  Heaven claps when just one of us repents.
  • During this Holy Week, I reflected more on Jesus and the cross as I looked at the reality which we are living. Paul of the Cross tells us “The Passion of Jesus is the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love”.   Just as God brought healing to the Israelites through Moses and the serpent and rod, He redeemed humanity through the Cross.    In my reflection, I was reminded that God restores.
  • Like the Israelites in the time of Moses, we are living a desert moment. We are fasting from many things not out of choice but out of necessity.   Our current shelter in place order is challenging us to greater charity, humility, and simplicity.  Many of us have spent more time in prayer than we ever did before as our human spirit is being tested.   We are being called to further deepen our relationship with God.   When the pandemic is over,  we will be living a “New Normal”.  Will we continue to remain committed to prayer and to one another?
  • I will continue to keep myself grounded in the Word of God and prayer. I will be made whole in my soul when I can once again receive the Bread of Heaven.
  • It is said prayer opens the heart of God. We need to continually praise and worship God, despite.   Let us intercede through our prayer for the world because we are the “Moses” of this day.

Looking at the current pandemic situation with expectant faith, I pray for God’s continued grace.  Create in me a pure heart Lord, renew your spirit within me.  I want to remain calm and safe, trusting in God – realizing that evil, sickness, death is not God’s design.  Feelings of defeat, despair, despondency, doubt, helplessness, and hopelessness may endure for a night, but joy and healing come in the morning.

Father God, I stand on Your word –  You have heard my cry…You are ever-present in times of trouble…Great is your faithfulness…By your stripes, I am healed…Your grace is sufficient for me…

The pandemic is reminiscent of the Israelites as they reached the banks of the Red Sea during the Exodus and saw no way out.  My God passed over the first born of Israel; parted the Red Sea; brought to life the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision; healed the blind, the deaf, the lame and the mute; cured lepers; fed thousands with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish; and raised Lazarus and others from the dead.   We are Easter people and believe in the Lord of the Resurrection.

Our lives currently resemble the early Christian communities who were in isolation after the crucifixion of our Savior.  They committed themselves to follow the teachings of the apostles, fellowship, Eucharist, and prayer (Acts 2: 42-47).  God provides.  While we are unable to receive the Eucharist, we are blessed through NET TV (Diocese of Brooklyn) broadcasting daily mass in several languages and offering the opportunity of Spiritual Communion; through technology, many parishes worldwide are live streaming masses and other prayer opportunities on social media, and the creation of Prayer Lines by lay people to help with the spiritual emotional support of their brothers and sisters.  Let us not miss these occasions to stand firm together spiritually awaiting and expecting God’s goodness.

We trust in God’s Divine Mercy.  Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.    May the Precious Blood of Jesus, shed on Calvary, cleanse, heal, and sanctify our world.  Jesus, I trust in you.

Michele G.