Faith in the time of COVID-19

Jermaine Bagnall

Monday, March 23, 2020

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash
In the age of the 24-hour news cycle and the endless scroll of social media, we are being inundated with all things coronavirus: its geographical origin, its politicization, its meme-worthiness. The collective response has ranged from the laissez-faire attitude (best exemplified by the crowds crammed into amusement parks and massive gatherings on the beaches of Florida) all the way to panicked shopping that has led to shortages of cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
These examples are not meant to shame people - it is just a statement as to where some of us are. Although very stark contrasts, both stem from the same seed of fear. Fear that this will be the last opportunity to experience joy and happiness, fear that there simply won’t be enough to survive.
To combat this we need to pause - breathe - and think.
Dr. Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, an associate professor at Brown University, reminds us that succumbing to anxiety (in behaviour and thoughts) is unrewarding, and that when we take the time to think, we can deliberately choose the “bigger, better offer”. Meaning that we can consciously step away from anxiety and step into clear thinking behaviour. In the times of the coronavirus, that means pausing before grabbing the extra grocery item we don’t need, taking time to practice the prescribed hygiene in order to limit the spread of the disease, deciding not to forward a meme that has not been fact checked and which spreads negativity, or anything else that contravenes collective kindness.
The notion of being a collective is not something we can ignore. The fact of the matter is that we are all in this together.
The Church is also doing what it can to minimize transmission and bring solace in this time of need. Many dioceses have suspended Mass during the week and on Sundays but have come up with creative solutions in order to keep the clergy engaged and connected, and many parishes have begun to livestream Mass for their congregants.
In Bowie, Maryland, Rev. Scott Holmer of St. Edward the Confessor Parish (Archdiocese of Washington) has been conducting drive-through confessions.
In Rome at the Spallanzani Hospital (National Institute for Infectious Disease), Fr. Cesare Pluchinotta serves as a hospital chaplain. In order to bring the sacraments of confession, anointing of the sick, or the Eucharist to patients, he dons protective gear and a mask before going to serve the faithful.
As part of our commitment to the Catholic community, we at Salt + Light Media are airing daily Mass with the following schedule (all times listed are Eastern Standard Time):
Every day: 9:30am Mass celebrated by Pope Francis from Casa Santa Marta (which can also be viewed on the Salt + Light Media Facebook Page)
Monday through Saturday: at 6:30am/11am/3pm/10:30pm (Daily Mass from the Chapel at Loretto Abbey in Toronto)
Sundays:
6:30am/3pm: The Passionists Mass
11am/10:30pm: The Sunday TV Mass from the Chapel at Loretto Abbey in Toronto
You can also tune in to other positive programming to uplift your spirits during these trying times at www.saltandlighttv.org/programs/
 
Even though this is a scary time, it is also a time filled with great opportunity if we remember to “love your neighbour as yourself”. This means doing little things to uplift others - helping the elderly and immunocompromised to get needed groceries and supplies, texting or calling friends/family to ensure that they are doing ok, adhering to the advice of health professionals in order to mitigate risk of infection and transmission. Moment by moment we are handed opportunities to be the reflection of God’s love in our thoughts and actions. Whenever possible, take steps to shift from crisis to growth. Above all take steps away from fear and into love.


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