5 Ideas for “Living together in this new situation”
In his morning Mass on March 16, Pope Francis began,
“I am thinking of the families under lockdown, children who aren’t going to school, parents who cannot leave the house, some who are in quarantine… May the Lord help them discover new ways, new expressions of love, of living together in this new situation… It is a wonderful occasion for rediscovering true affection with creativity in the family. Let us pray for families so that relationships in the family at this time always thrive for the good.”
We are facing a new situation, like all new situations there are challenges but also immense graces. When faced with a challenge we can run in fear and panic, or we can stand firm in what we know to be true, trusting God is guiding and strengthening us every step of the way.
If you’re looking for a starting point, or your next step, start here:
Jesus said, “I am with you always,” Where do you see him in your life right now? Where do you long to see him? We are adjusting and responding to the new family dynamics of children at home, new work situations, new community situations, more time with some people, far less time with others. This is a new place, don’t try to explore it alone!
When God created you, he knew you would be alive at this moment, facing this reality, and he had a plan for you to grow through it. Ask him about his plan. Seek his will for you and your family right now.
Pray the prayer of Spiritual Communion often to invite him to dwell within you. Embrace him, even if you don’t feel any different, he is with you. He promised.
If prayer is new to you, or you keep meaning to kickstart or commit to daily prayer, take your cue from the first disciples and ask God to teach you how to pray (Luke 11:1-13).
Build your domestic church. This doesn’t require arts and crafts, musical skills, lesson planning and classroom style teaching. You don’t need a bunch of religious art, or stacks of children’s devotionals. Make a commitment to reading at least a small portion of scripture and/or the Catechism in your personal prayer time and go from there.
The heart of the Church is Christ. If he’s at the heart of your home, congrats, your domestic church is up and running! The early Christians were known by their love of one another, not by their encyclopedic knowledge of the faith.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start simple. Family dinner, and grace count as fellowship and prayer. Watch Mass on TV or youtube to connect with the Sacramental life of the Church. Bless your family with Holy water, or simply by tracing a cross on each person’s forehead in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Pick a virtue, any virtue. Well maybe not just any virtue, pick one you need or one your family keeps telling you that you need! Life at home with your loved ones may be stretching you in charity. Maybe you’re struggling to maintain hope when faced with the daily news cycle. Prudence may be tested on your weekly grocery run. When you notice the same virtue (or lack of virtue) keeps coming up, it’s a good time to start praying and working in that area to build it up.
Discover and grow in your charisms. Charisms are gifts of the Spirit used to gather, sanctify, and minister life in the Church and in the world. These include gifts such as hospitality, teaching, craftsmanship, giving, mercy, music, intercessory prayer, healing, and many, many more.
Charisms differ from learned skills in that they are deeply connected to our relationship with God, and draw others to him. As you spend more time around your family, pay attention to the times you are astounded by your own energy or effectiveness, or that of your spouse or children, in going about something. It may be a sign of an undiscovered Charism. Embracing and utilizing the gifts we have in a spirit of gratitude will help us, and those around us, grow in faith and love of God.
We are called to serve. In this new occasion for growth, shift focus from yourself to others and consider how you can help those around you. Who needs food, shelter, clothing, medicine, etc.? How can you find out who needs these things and how can you reach out? How can you meet the spiritual needs of others through prayer, encouragement, and teaching. Consider both the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Karen Keays returned to the Church in early adulthood after more than a decade of wrestling with God. She is a stay-at-home mother of three.