As Catholic families continue to cope with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, isolation threatens us with depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
Still, more than 300 times throughout scripture, the Lord tells us to not be afraid. He promises to be with us always, abiding by our sides until the end.
“Faith is what helps us to know and understand God,” observes Father Angelos Sebastian, pastor of St. Kilian Church in Mission Viejo. “When we are isolated, we can always feel the presence of God. And when God is with us, we are never alone.”
Indeed, our Catholic faith – with its universality, worldwide community, and enduring history – reassures us of God’s always-uplifting presence, Father Sebastian says. “It helps us to know even when we are in the most difficult and challenging times, He is with us.”
Psalm 23 reassures us that even in the darkest valleys, our Good Shepherd is with us. “Our Catholic faith helps us in isolation because we know we are always connected to our spiritual family. At every Mass we are being prayed for, which is a great source of strength during this time of isolation,” says Father Sebastian.
Even in the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are only as lonely as we want to be, says Father Scott Borgman, Diocese of Orange judicial vicar, who often posts livestream Masses and inspirational meditations on social media.
“There are always so many options for reaching out to people, and I know that many parishes are calling the Faithful regularly, especially those who are sick or elderly, in order to check on them, to make sure they are getting the proper care and nutrition, etc.,” Father Borgman says. “This is a great community life especially in the absence of family members close to those who are isolated.”
As Catholics, he adds, we believe that suffering is not meaningless. “St. Paul writes ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:21),” he explains. “So many people are way too anxious by the drama produced through a diet of too much news. They have lost their peace and need to learn to pray, to search for that peace of God which ‘surpasses all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7).”
Community is one of the main reasons that people are turning to their Catholic faith during this pandemic, Father Borgman says, but even more important is the connection we make directly with God.
“The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ and remains completely faithful today to all the precepts of God’s desire to transmit grace through all the sacraments,” he notes. “There is a significant difference between the scripture-based entertainment offered by so many Christian churches and, on the other hand, the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
“People turning to God so often want to be in touch with sacramental graces.”
Catholic families in need of inspiration and comfort can visit the websites of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at usccb.org and the California Catholic Conference of Bishops at cacatholic.org.
The Tablet, the award-winning newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, at thetablet.org, also offers inspirational content. Dynamic Catholic has free resources at dynamiccatholic.com. And a British site, faithinisolation.com, sponsored by Peter’s Table, also has resources for prayer and contemplation.