The world certainly has dramatically changed over the course of the last week or so. Schools are shut down for an undetermined amount of time. Public Mass and houses of worship are cancelled or closed until further notice. My son's speech therapist and physical therapist are no longer able to do home visits and have switched to tele-health. His feeding therapist's office is closed until further notice. I cancelled my daughter's 7th birthday party before I even had a chance to send out the invites. Restaurants are not able to do dine-in service and have moved to curbside pickup or delivery only. Most major sports, such as the NBA, have been cancelled for the season. "Social Distancing" is a new term in our vernacular and the only social distancing sport that I can think of is golf. With so many indoor play places closed, my family has taken to hiking deserted nature trails, away from people and possibly infected surfaces. All of my speaking engagements have been cancelled, as has my children's after school activities. And the economy.... oh, that economy! It looks as though we are headed into a recession.
Stores are left with bare shelves as consumers have been "panic shopping." 2020 will be remembered as the year that the toilet paper went missing at the same rate that hand washing increased. Online delivery of goods has severely increased and Amazon has said that it will add a huge number of new jobs in order to keep up with the demand. Yet, I still can't find flour or cleaning supplies in-stock on the retail giants website... nor, toilet paper.
We have seen the Coronavirus (COVID-19) shock not just our beloved nation, but the entire world. Italy has all but shut down and other nations are following suit. Who knows how many of our own citizens will lose their jobs because of this virus. It seems as if the world is crashing down around us.
It's God's reset button. There have been other viruses with a greater risk of dying; remember the good ol' flu? How about H1N1? Yet, COVID-19 is different. It is as if God has hit the reset button. He did promise that he would never flood the earth again during the time of Noah. Though not with water, it seems as if our Almighty is flooding the world again. He is forcing us to spend time with our families. He is forcing us to reign in our spending. He is forcing us to die to self so that we can unite as one. We have seen Republicans and Democrats unite. We have seen over 100 countries suffer through the effects of COVID-19 and, for the most part, provide guidance to one another. We have seen families and friends support each other more frequently through group text messages and social media. I have seen my neighbors checking in on each other, all while keeping a distance of at least six feet. Could it be that God has truly reset the entire world?
In my opinion, God has absolutely hit the reset button and is calling us to die to self and to die to sin, all during the time of Lent. Coincidence? I think not. One of my priest friends posted on Facebook, "I didn't expect to give up this much for Lent!" My uncle, also a priest, responded with, "That's okay. Just give up sin." I couldn't agree more. Just give up sin. We may or may not have access to Church and confessionals, but we do have access to our own self-control. We do have the choice to give up sin.
During this challenging time I urge you to give up sin, practice extreme patience, pray for persecuted Christians around the world and put on a brave face of hope and courage. Cling to the virtues, prayer and Sacred Scripture. Remember that this is a time in our children's lives that they will always remember. Help them learn hope and courage. Help them learn self-control and the choice of refusing sin. Allow God's reset button to truly sink in; allow Him to reset your spiritual life so that you may be brought closer to His heart.
My dear readers, I pray that all of you stay strong, healthy, hopeful and full of courage and patience during this trying time. I challenge you to pray a daily Rosary for our world. If you can only manage a decade, then that is okay too. Pray for healing of our world, its people and the economy. Pray that you use God's reset button in ways that you never thought possible.
This is the time that He will transform your life.
"Faith doesn't make things easy, it makes them possible." -Luke 1:37
I was scrolling through Instagram the other day when I saw this image with #Catholic. If you are reading my blog, then chances are that you are dedicated to, or at least respect, the catholic doctrine. This post will shred apart the side-by-side comparison that the creator made of Jesus v. Satan. I will serve the creator of this meme a heavy piece of humble pie. Read on below the image. Before publishing this post, the meme had 5,354 likes. That is 5,354 lost souls.
The figs: Jesus curses the fig tree in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 11. Let’s make it clear, Jesus doesn’t hate figs. He knows that the Jewish people see it as a symbol of themselves. He curses the fig tree that doesn’t bear fruit to mean that he does not approve of the Jewish people who bear no spiritual fruit and are, in return, in spiritual apathy. Hahn’s Study Bible says, “...he announces his curse on the unfaithful of Israel- i.e. those who refuse him as the Messiah and lack the fruits of repentance.” Again, Jesus doesn’t hate figs as this meme creator asserts. Instead, he hates the lack of repentance. He loves us and wants us to be free from our sins. In opposition, Satan loves the spiritual apathy and lack of repentance. Which side will you choose?
Impregnated a virgin without consent: Jesus did not impregnate a virgin without consent. This assertion is barbaric. Jesus is the fruit of the womb from our Blessed Mother. Let's talk about Mary's fiat. "Fiat" is Latin for "Let it be done." When the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary, he told her that God wanted her to bear his Son in the human form in order to save the world. Read Luke 1:26-56. Mary said, "yes." This was her consent. She was not impregnated against her own will. God gave us free will and respects our free will that was given by His grace. Mary consented to bear the Son of God by saying, "be it done to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38) God favored Mary; she is the Ark of the New Covenant. Because of her "yes" the gates of Heaven were eventually opened upon the crucifixion of her only Son. Her "yes" changed the world. Her "yes" was consent to play a major role in salvation's history. Will you say "yes" and open your heart to God?
Boring Robes: Jesus was born into poverty. He is the Son of the Most High King and he is the ruler of Heaven and Earth. Yet, he chose to enter this world as a humble infant in the lowliest of economic welfares. He chose to do this in order to connect with people from all walks of life and to show that he came to save us all. Had he descended from Heaven with flashy robes and crazy pomp and circumstances, then that would have signaled that he was only the savior for the rich and mighty. All three persons of the Holy Trinity are exceptionally humble and full of love. Satan can keep his fancy robes, etc. My savior doesn't need them. They have no place in Heaven. Jesus made friends with the lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors. He shows mercy on all who ask for his forgiveness. Satan only cares for himself and is the sole definition of selfishness and self-love. Which side will you choose? One of selfishness and cool robes or the side of humility, service, love and forgiveness?
Dedicate your weekend to singing hymns: Yes, Jesus certainly does want you to dedicate your weekend, and every other day, to praising him and spreading his Good News throughout the world. "To sing is to pray twice." This quote is attributed to St. Augustine. Absolutely- dedicate your time to singing hymns of praise. There is so much more freedom in this than in "smoking weed" as the meme creator suggests. We can become a slave to our own selfish desires. When we relinquish ourselves to Christ, there is a new found freedom. Personally, I feel as if I can breath better and feel as a weight has been taken off of my shoulders when I choose to follow the straight and narrow path. At times, I have done things without prayerful discernment and it has never ended well. In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul tells the people of Thessalonia to "rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
In conclusion, be on your guard and remain aware of the spiritual attacks that Satan presents. He's sneaky. He will show up everywhere and anywhere, including Instagram. Always be at the ready with your own armory of spiritual weapons: attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, praying the Rosary, reading Sacred Scripture, taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, blessing yourself with holy water. Satan hates these things. Always have them at the ready. As a veteran, believe me when I tell you that having your armory fully stocked and loaded is the best way to prevent attacks by the enemy. Satan is surely the world's biggest enemy.