Here are 3 ways to help you fight the good fight
Why do we so often avoid the things we want to do and indulge in those we don’t? Saint Paul couldn’t figure it out either (see Romans 7:15). And why does it take a pandemic to remove unwanted distractions from our lives? It seems to be an unfortunate part of our human nature. But perhaps the current pandemic that has brought serious illness and death around the world can help us overcome some aspects of our stubborn human natures.
Social distancing has been challenging in many ways for many people, but ironically for some it has also proven useful and beneficial. The greater time alone many experienced is providing unexpected opportunities to focus on what’s really important and to draw closer to God. When these restrictions ease, it will be all too easy to fall back into our old habits. So, to maintain whatever progress we’ve made, let’s do what good Catholics do—get our hands dirty, dust off the Rosary beads, light candles on the family altar and lift our minds heavenward as we examine three simple steps that can keep us from losing ground.
Pray without ceasing
While it is wonderful that your prayer life may have become more fervent during this time of crisis, remember that it is generally easier to pray when we have a determined and pressing intention on our mind. So, when things ease up, be mindful not to lose this zeal by becoming lax.
Don’t change your prayer time to fit your routine as you reestablish your new ‘normal’, change your routine to fit your prayer time. If you have managed to allocate more time to prayer, meditation, and contemplation during the pandemic, strive to maintain your routine when schools and workplaces resume operations.
Find solutions that fit your circumstances: podcasts or CDs you can play in the car on your commute, family Rosary around the dinner table while the littlest kids are still strapped into their highchairs, family Lectio Divina or Bible reading in the evening.
Make Sunday more than an obligation
Attending Mass and receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist sounds appealing to many of us right now. Lack of access to the sacraments makes us long for them. As they say, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’
But will we retain our longing for the Mass once we are able again to attend freely? It will take effort to approach each Mass with the same intensity we feel now. Otherwise, at some point after our churches are reopened, we may find ourselves growing complacent and treating our faith like an obligation rather than the gift and privilege it is.
Pondering this very idea, Josemaria Escriva said, “Many Christians take their time and have leisure enough in their social life (no hurry here). They are leisurely, too, in their professional activities (no hurry here either). But isn’t it strange how those same Christians find themselves in such a rush and want to hurry the priest in their anxiety to shorten the time devoted to the most holy sacrifice of the altar?”
How can we dedicate more of our time to God?
Make Sunday—the whole day—one dedicated to the Lord. Yes, attend Mass, but don’t stop there. Build community at your parish. How about morning teas after Mass, or perhaps invite another Catholic family to your house for tea or lunch? Maybe you could try to get to Mass early, make use of the Sacrament of Confession, offer a Rosary together as a family, or spend time in quiet prayer?
Pare back the extras
Lockdown and social distancing have drastically altered the number of ways we can spend our time. Perhaps the pandemic has invited us to think about the activities in our lives. Which do we miss, and which do we not miss at all? Which do we need, and which don’t we need?
Are we overscheduled? Do all our activities cause us stress and create logistical nightmares? Do our children need to attend every extracurricular activity there is? Are we failing them if we limit their extra-curriculars, or are we doing them a greater service? Perhaps it’s time to ‘Marie Kondo’ those extracurricular activities so you can find a healthy balance for your family.
Less time in structured activities means more unstructured time together as a family, and it’s the unstructured activities that make for the best quality time. Spontaneous board games, baking cookies, and unplanned bike rides make memories children will treasure.
The pandemic has given us an opportunity to assess our prayer lives and priorities. No doubt the suffering and challenges we face during this time will be accompanied by graces that will help us make changes for the better.
There is no time like the present to take stock of our lives.