Life has never been this ubiquitously stressful and alarming. Ever since pandemic COVID-19 entered our lives in the first quarter of 2020, everything changed. Life as we know it changed. Suddenly, we worried about a gazillion-and-one things. First I worried that there wasn’t enough mask supply in the pharmacies… a carry-over worry brought about by Taal ash fall in January which continued as Covid-19 entered the global scene. And shortly after that shelves were running out of alcohol and hand sanitizers too.
Stress and panic intensified when community quarantine was declared causing people to flock to their supermarkets and panic-buy fearing food will run out. Heightened stress reached sky high when enhanced community quarantine was declared the next day causing confusion and anger among many. Before you know it, tempers and heated exchanges flew in several checkpoints all over Metro Manila. Fear does this to us… it causes panic and is spread by what you see, hear and sense from others.
When people’s daily routine is disrupted fear besets us. Stress sustained for long periods of time causes people to act in many ways that they normally don’t. When people have a million questions requiring answers as well as transparency from our leaders and we aren’t getting it, fear grabs us by the throat. This is a very dangerous situation because fear is volatile and contagious. It is even more infectious than the Covid-19 virus.
Now more than ever, we must remain calm.
How do we do that? It is in times like these that we need spiritual guidance and hang on to our spirituality tighter than we ever did before. For a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines, praying and going to church on Sundays to hear God’s word provides relief and consolation. It is in critical times like these that all the more we need spiritual guidance from our parish priests.
However, due to the unfortunate incident in Daegu, South Korea where church-goer, “Patient 31” unknowingly exposed and infected many of its members to Covid-19 during a church-gathering of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, attending masses and church gatherings has since then been indefinitely suspended not just by Catholics in Metro Manila but also in countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, USA and Italy to name a few to prevent further spread of the contagion.
Church-going in our country has definitely changed affecting every devout to the core. But not to worry, church rules in the Philippines are adjusting with the times. Knowing that crowds is what the novel corona virus feeds on and how it is transmitted, so too church-going and spirituality must indefinitely adapt and change. People’s lives depend on it.
Streamed and Online Masses
Since masses are banned at this time, churches such as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene have organized streamed online masses via their Facebook Live and website as well as in TV Maria so their parishioners are still able to “attend” mass without being physically present. Radio Veritas, too, airs faith-centered programs to maintain and strengthen the faith of its faithful.
Online programs such as these aired during a crisis are perfect for the spiritually-hungry parishioners thirsting for the word of God. Can you imagine hearing the good word in the safety of their living room? And they may do so in their house clothes or even in their pajamas.
This is a testament that God’s church isn’t just a physical church made of concrete and metal but of beating hearts and warm bodies. This also shows that praying can happen anywhere and any time.
Rosary at Home
Another way the Catholic faithful can pray and stay calm is saying the rosary at home. The rosary is repetitive and meditative while reciting the different mysteries therefore it has a calming effect which is what we need during these desperate times. The family who prays together also feels more bonded and strengthened to tackle the challenges of Covid-19 as a family and as a country.
There are many ways to meditate in your home… could be the simple exercise of focusing on your breathing as you inhale and exhale; or meditate on a bible verse and reflect on how it relates to you as you sit in a quiet corner…or you can also chant Aum as you intentionally bless Mother Earth for healing…whatever you choose, the end result is the same… a calm and rested mind that makes you feel more calm and balanced to deal with any challenges along the way.
So as you can see, there are still many ways to connect with your Creator without going out while community quarantine is ongoing and risking your health and the people you love.
In my own humble opinion, crisis has a purpose. It has a way of reminding us how fragile life is and how busy we’ve been getting caught up with Life that we have forgotten what is really essential and what really matters.
As the Lenten season approaches, let us use this time of isolation to strengthen our faith and relationship with the Living God… the God that resides in our hearts and in the Life we breathe. Heaven is not some far away place that is inaccessible to the living. Heaven is the here and now…a place in time where humanity lives in compassion and kindness along with fear. A now where we can create the best version of ourselves everyday.