In a recent statement Pope Francis said, “I am thinking of the families under lockdown, children who aren’t going to school, parents who cannot leave the house, some who are in quarantine. May the Lord help them discover new ways, new expressions of love, of living together in this new situation. ...It is a wonderful opportunity to creatively rediscover affection in the family. Let us pray for families so that relationships within the family at this moment might flourish always for the good.”
It is an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed America and the world as we know it. The whole planet has had to adapt quickly to a new way of daily life. At the heart of this crisis are families. What does a day, a week, a month of social distancing look like for the American family and what does it look like for our Catholic families?
Public Masses and faith formation classes are now online. Faith in God is the most important asset we have to hold onto as Catholics. Now is the opportunity for parents to not only use their faith to comfort themselves but their children as well and possibly use this time to make their family stronger.
In our household, we are blessed that my husband and I can both work from home while helping our children with their online schooling. After the first week at home together, we decided we needed a daily schedule to follow so everyone is aware of what is expected of them. Of course, our household is Catholic and in these uncertain times this daily schedule includes prayer.
Using a daily devotional geared toward kids, we start our day with a short daily inspiration followed by supporting Scripture. A recent daily reading was about the goodness of God and began with a reminder of all the blessings that we have in our lives. Sometimes those blessings come to us, whether we realize it or not, through pain and trouble. At the same time, we are reminded that we are not in control; it is God that holds the plan for our lives. The passage was Colossians 3:15: And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.
I have found that referring to Scripture, especially during the first week of being in social isolation, really resounded with my children. There was a palpable amount of fear in those first few days at home together while we all came to terms with a situation none of us had ever been in before. Daily inspirational prayer and especially quotes from Scripture have enabled us to start our day grounded and together.
While reciting prayers like the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Grace at meals together is great, there is real hope when we can open the Bible and turn to living Scripture written so long ago and find strength in its message. Hearing familiar Scripture stories is one of the things that we and our families are missing by not being able to attend Mass. Scripture is what reminds us that there have always been trials and tribulations and that God always was and still is there for us.
What we need to do as parents and caregivers during this difficult time of pandemic is pause and find the blessings among the distress. God is giving us the opportunity to spend more time with our families, and more time with Him. Let’s take this time of isolation to mimic Jesus in the desert and look inside ourselves, open Scripture, find our faith, share it with our children and loved ones, and come out stronger in the end.
God, our Father, wants to be at the center of our family life where He always intended to be. Let’s let Him be there.
-- By Marianne Nicholas