I could never have fathomed all the things that have happened in our country during March 2020. I must admit that particularly over the last two weeks, I have been in somewhat of a “funk” because of the Coronavirus pandemic and all the uncertainty surrounding it.
The news cycles on TV have been bad for some time, but even worse now. It seems almost certain that there will be a significant spike in the number of Coronavirus cases in Texas and throughout most of the United States before it gets better.
“Social distancing” is proving to work and developing good safety procedures: washing hands frequently; wearing plastic gloves when going out to grocery stores, pharmacy; wiping down items brought into the home; disinfecting surfaces frequently; etc. The older the person, the more these are necessary as we are at greater risk to get the Coronavirus.
The fact that no one really has the answers with certainty to so many questions makes the situation even harder for people to deal with. Then when we add “sheltering in place” with all the family—mom, dad and children together throughout the day—the tension, stress and fatigue levels become higher.
I happen to believe the necessity of families being together can have positive short and long-term benefits. We should look for positive outcomes.
This pandemic is slowing our lives down, and hopefully causing people to think about the important things in life – family, having God in our daily lives, helping others, and doing purposeful activities.
Ten simple ways to curb anxiety
I found in the Epoch Times newspaper ten simple ways to curb anxiety in these trying times:
- Stay away from the news.
- Go Outside
- Eat Well
- Clean Something
- Sleep Well
- Find Gratitude
- Nurture your spirit – I would say practice your religion.
Who would have ever thought that America (and across the world), we quickly would go from vibrant flourishing churches to a situation where people cannot go to their church for Mass.
Lent and Easter during Quarantine
Since this is Lent, I was especially missing daily Mass and receiving the Eucharist. Now my wife, Pat, and I are viewing daily Mass on the Relevant Radio app with Father Rocky and making it a central part of our day with spiritual communion. You can get the Relevant Radio free app if you do not already have it; we found that it enriches our lives. (also see List of exceptional online Masses, Adoration and Spiritual Enrichment here, culled by Catholic Business Journal.)
Our parish, St. John Neumann, is also streaming the Mass. Since we are just a short time before Easter, as a part of our Lenten activity we are daily reading Lenten Gospel Reflections from Bishop Robert Barron, the Magnificat Lenten Companion, The Word for You Today, the Upper Room devotional and a Proverbs devotional. (These take less than 30 minutes and make each day special.)
Papal Urbi et Orbi blessing, Plenary Indulgence
Hopefully, you watched Pope Francis on Friday March 27 (See links for replay on Catholic Business Journal here) as he walked alone in an unbelievably empty St. Peter’s Square in Rome, before leading a prayer service, where he gave a powerful homily, then gave a special blessing, called Urbi et Orbi, usually reserved for Christmas and Easter, but he gave it now due to the gravity of the Coronavirus worldwide.
During this simple but powerful event, Pope Francis offered everyone the opportunity to receive a Plenary Indulgence* if he or she prayed for an end to the Coronavirus and had a conscious desire to rid themselves of all sin (since most of us are unable to go receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation).
This second point is exceptional.
The usual requirement to receive a Plenary Indulgence includes going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession within 8 days. But in this one instance during the Urbi et Orbi blessing, the Holy Father exempted each of us from the usual requirement to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession since most of us are under quarantine.
* A Plenary Indulgence fully removes all consequences of sin up to this point in our life or in the life of someone else for whom we offer a Plenary Indulgence.
Jesus is the calm amid chaos
The Gospel from Mark was read, recounting when the Apostles were in a boat with Jesus and a raging storm developed. While the storm raged on, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat.
The Apostles, fearing for their lives, awakened Jesus and asked, “Do you not care for us?” Jesus calmly responded, “Why are you afraid? Do you not have faith?”
What great questions that are so appropriate for us today as many are in fear for their safety and their very lives due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Faith matters, It really matters
The Bible in Heb 11:1 says, “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
“Faith isn’t empty hope or simply a positive confession of something we want to be true,” notes Bob Gass Ministries (BGM). Having faith, our life becomes more manageable, less stressful, more peaceful and more purpose-driven.
Hope amid the storm
This is a time when everyone in our country, from the President and members of Congress on down to the individual citizen, needs to pull together for the benefit of all; for the benefit of the common good.
I am particularly proud of the leadership that our President and the Governor of Texas have shown in this difficult time. It still is a time to have hope for the future. We will recover as a country and have economic prosperity again if we can continue to harness the American spirit that brought us through WWII and 9/11.
Don’t waste this precious time
Let’s not waste this time while we are “sheltering in place.”
Pat and I have already been cleaning out closets and doing things that we had been putting off. I am going to use part of this extra time to reconnect with friends that I have not talked to in some time.
It’s also a good time to dream and to plan.
Dream and Plan
“So, what’s your dream? And what’s your plan? Your dream and your talent are important, but long-term success won’t happen without a plan,” advises BGM. “A plan takes your dreams and talents and maximizes them by bringing structure to the concept. It involves being committed to a budget; it means constantly working on specific goals and details. Write down your plan which includes specific actions and deadlines to fulfill it.”
When you have prayed for discernment to come up with the right plan, and you have that plan in place, God will bless it.
Your Vision is important, Talk to God about it
“We must have a vision that is a part of one’s dream and plan,” BGM continues. “Great vision always precedes great achievement. And God is the giver of great visions—so ask Him for one.
“Vision gives birth to the goal; it sparks and fuels the fire within, and moves you forward in spite of the obstacles.
“Understand these things:
- Visions comes from God. He knows what you’re capable of and what He has gifted you to do. Are you looking beyond yourself, even beyond your own lifetime as you seek your vision? If not, you may be missing your God-given potential and His best for you. If, after seeking God for a vision, you still don’t have one, consider partnering with someone whose vision resonates within you.
- Vision draws on your history. Vision isn’t some mystical quality that comes out of a vacuum, it grows out of your past experiences, and the history of the people around you.
- Vision meets other people’s needs. A God-given vision goes far beyond what one person can accomplish. It includes and blesses others. If your vision doesn’t do that, it is probably too small.
- Vision attracts resources. Like a magnet, it draws, challenges, and unites people. It also rallies finances and other resources. The greater your vision, the more faith-filled people it will attract. And the more challenging the vision, the harder the participants will fight to achieve it.”
What about the Money?
We know we cannot have a vision to accomplish a dream and its plan without money. How do we do that?
BGM provides a solid answer to that question:
“When it comes to God and your money:
- When you do what pleases Him, He will bless you. Why? Because your actions prove that doing His will is more important to you than doing your own thing.
- God will show you how to make more money. God works through unlikely channels, and he wants you to depend on Him as the source for everything you need. The Bible says, ‘Remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.’ The word ‘power’ encompasses ideas, strategies, plans, relationships and investments.”
Use this time wisely: BE NOT AFRAID
Using this time wisely, we can develop a vision that encompasses a dream, a plan, finding the necessary monetary resources, and relying on our faith in Jesus Christ to accomplish it. This is possible for you.
Do not be overburdened by uncertainty and fear while we overcome this Coronavirus pandemic.
Let us remember the words of Jesus, echoed by St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid!”
Let us pray to Jesus to calm our fears, increase our faith and come closer to Him. As the archangel Gabriel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Use the Serenity Prayer – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
Timothy Von Dohlen is not only a sharp business entrepreneur with both legal and pharmacy degrees, having formerly practiced in both fields, and a former elected representative in the state of Texas, but he is most honored to be the founder and president of the St. John Paul II Life Center and Vitae Clinic in Austin, Texas. (www.jpiilifecenter.org). He may be reached at [email protected]
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