Feeling trapped at home? Unsure what to do? Turn around your days and give them new meaning by living out this essential Gospel passage: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37-38)
1. Thank God for your life, faith, and blessings each morning, i.e., a Morning Offering Prayer. Offer up your day--joys and sorrows--to God that He might bless all you do.
2. Dedicate a few minutes of each day to silent reading of Sacred Scripture, lectio divina, to hear God’s voice speaking to your heart. Reflect on the readings of each day (Magnificat).
3. On Sundays, watch the Mass online continue to make Sunday a special day. (See yesterday's post on How to Keep the Sabbath Holy.)
4. Learn a new form of prayer that you can integrate into your life this Lenten season (vocal, contemplative, or meditative). There are many devotional helps available: the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, or the Divine Office.
5. Practice a daily Examination of Conscience that you might recognize both your failings and encounters with the Lord each day. End the day with a prayer of thanksgiving!
Loving Your Neighbor (Family & Friends)
6. Sit and have a meal together. Reflect on the importance of the meal in the public life of the Church (i.e., the Eucharist). Prioritize eating together as a family, sharing in meaningful conversation together.
7. Be playful with your family--a board game, charades or pictionary, cards--anything that you enjoy doing together that will allow you to share in some laughter.
8. The family that prays together stays together. Pray a decade of the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross on Fridays for the rest of Lent. Teach your kids how to pray. Do it by example. Not good at being an example of prayer? You only get better by practice. There is nothing more needed in this world, especially in the life of a Christian, than teaching others/learning how to pray.
9. Work together on a common goal: hold a family meeting and pick a house project (cleaning out the basement or storage room, have everyone clean out their rooms with items to donate, etc.), explain the benefits of such a project to each family member, and then assign tasks that will help to accomplish the work faster. A common goal brings people together. Having a goal that benefits others will help to motivate each family member to work towards accomplishing it.
10. Make special efforts to be attentive to the situation of family members who may be far away due to school, work, etc. Contact them regularly just to check in. Remember that true love isn’t a burden: it is a willing of the good of the other (and acting on that desire for their good!). Sometimes when family members are far away, there is little one can do to help practically. We can share in the sufferings of our distant family members just by listening to them, praying with and for them, and sending them notes of encouragement. We lived in an age where this is more possible than ever so don’t let any excuses get in the way ofyour family showing acts of love.
Loving Your Neighbor (Strangers)
11. Remind strangers that you are a Christian by how you love! We are called to be filled with joy and hope at all times. Now is not a time to put our lights under bushel baskets. Be unapologetic and unashamed in sharing your own story of faith with others, especially at this time when many of our idols are crumbling.
12. Practice one work of mercy each day towards a stranger as did St. Edith Stein. There are two types of works: corporal and spiritual. If you can go through a day without finding an opportunity to do at least one work of mercy, then your eyes are being blinded to the needs of others.
13. Stay in touch with your parish at this time. If your church remains open, remember to bring in your weekly offertory cheque or apply for online pre-authorized payments to help your parish pay the bills.
14. Pray for the world. Pray for those suffering and afflicted by the COVID-19 disease. Pray for those who are dying and for those who have died using the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Pray especially for those who do not have their spiritual affairs in order and are in risk of losing out on eternal happiness in heaven because of mortal sin. Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory who have no one else to pray for them.
15. Pray for those on the front line of helping the sick and the dying including physicians, nurses, and priests. Pray for those who are alone or lonely, who are scared, those incapable of living without assistance, for those who take care of the vulnerable, and for those who are overwhelmed with panic and grief. Ask God’s grace to reign down upon all His children at this time, to give strength and peace to the whole world.
16. God wants you to take care of yourself so you can be wholesome, the ‘best version of yourself’, so that you are better able to carry out your mission in this world:set a new sleep pattern, be better disciplined about eating healthy food and avoiding junk food, invest in truly restful activities (not TV or Netflix) like exercise, reading, or music.
17. Exercise your body and mind: get creative, go out for a walk with your family, take an online course (e.g. FORMED.org Bible study). There are many free resources available through the parish and online of which you can take advantage to improve yourself. Try out a free membership on SoulCore for those missing the gym.
18. Spend time in silent personal prayer and contemplation. Reflect on your priorities no matter your age. We can all do better. Imagine you get to heaven and God asks you if you read His Book? What excuses will you have as to why not? Do you think these will hold up before the throne of the Author of Life? Likely not.
19. Limit time on your devices, on social media and news apps. Set limits to when and for how long you will access your devices. Set parameters for your social media use so that your time is fruitful, life-giving, community-building, and leaves you feeling hopeful. Restrict your exposure to the news to what is necessary knowledge for your family. Learn to discern which media outlets are the most reliable (factual, least speculative, well-prioritized, least dramatic). Find a balance between staying aware of the current situation and problems, and not letting the problems of today overwhelm you. Always pray a prayer of detachment at the end that you aren’t paralyzed by fear, that you can remain hopeful in the promise of the Resurrection, and that in remaining informed/rational/calm/hopeful/joyful, you can be a light to others.