Lent + Coronavirus = An Unprecedented Spiritual Opportunity
by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
We might as well admit it right up front – this is a Lent like most of us have never seen in our lifetime. A killer virus is sweeping the planet. We’re virtually quarantined in our homes; the kids are off; events are cancelled; the churches are closed; and we’re all drowning in toilet paper (or trying to). Could it get any worse? Probably, but let’s not go there.
Instead, let’s look at this whole deadly debacle through the prism of faith because that’s the only way for us to discern the goldmine of spiritual opportunity that has just been presented to us. Here it is, the third week of Lent and whether we’re observing the season or not, it has become a time of sacrifice for all of us. For those who are observing, look at it this way – Jesus decided to pick our penance for us this year and it came in the form of the complete upheaval of our lives. No one asked for it, no one wants it, but the spiritually savvy have no intention of wasting it. Just think of all the good that we can do for the world – and ourselves – by turning this novel suffering into an act of reparation for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
For example, for those of us who are prevented from receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, we can make a spiritual communion and offer up our longing for His Body and Blood in reparation for sins against this sacrament.
By quietly bearing the suffering of being unable to go where we want, we can make reparation for all the ways that we have abused our freedoms.
When we hit the supermarket in search of the elusive hand sanitizer only to find yet another empty shelf, let us make reparation for the sinful waste of our consumerist society.
Being unable to visit our elderly loved ones, let us repair for selfish living and lack of respect for the sanctity of the family.
Unable to exchange the simple pleasantries of a handshake or a hug, let us repair for anger and lack of forgiveness of our neighbor.
Forced to live without our favorite past-times (i.e., March Madness), let us repair for excesses of leisure and neglect of our duties.
The opportunities are endless, even on a strictly personal basis.
For instance, every time you find yourself complaining about your lot, why not replace it with a prayer of thanksgiving to God that it’s not any worse, then follow it with a prayer for the end of the spread of this virus.
Instead of criticizing our government for decisions made during these chaotic times, replace those snarky comments with a prayer for the enlightenment of our leaders.
Take a moment every day to appreciate what you do have rather than what you can’t have during this pandemic – family, home, friends, food, and (for some) enough toilet paper to last until Christmas.
Monsignor John Esseff said it well in a recent podcast, “I see this as a tremendous opportunity for us to serve each other, to look out for one another, to care of one another. That’s His commandment – love one another as I have loved you. The love that He has given to us he wants us to manifest to one another.” What better time to do that than now?
Whether we anticipated it or not, Jesus is leading us to Calvary this Lent by way of the coronavirus pandemic. We may never have the same challenge – or opportunity – again.
© Susan Brinkmann. All Rights Reserved, Catholic Life Institute