"Live your faith from home" sounds almost like the title of a pamphlet or a patoral newsletter. It isn't, but could soon become one considering the sanitary and personal emergency that we are facing due to the Corona virus lockdown measures.
In many parts of the world churches are closing or mass has been banned due to the risk of contagion. The recommendation is to stay at home as much as possible and leave home only in case of necessity. Inevitably we are brought to ask ourselves: can we still live our faith under such conditions? What is the value of this time of Lent when the risk is that there will be no celebrations of the Holy Week nor the solemnity of the Resurrection.
These questions are more than justified, and we need to ponder them and give an answer. We are called urgently to reflect and meditate. Both are healthy habit in living our faith that can be practiced from the comfort of our homes.
We need to find practical solutions to pray and live our faith in the comfort of our homes. But, we must also reflect on this difficult time, and not let it go wasted abandoning ourselves to a flood of desperations and resignation.
How to live your faith from home: what are we looking for?
A clear indication on how to live our faith from home comes directly from Pope Francis. The pontifex in a recent speach said "In this unprecedented situation, when everything appear to falter, let's help one another in being strong in what really matters".
Our mind goes repeatedly through the dramatic news that these days are repeated from all channels. But we are brought to think about Jesus's words (Mt 7, 24-25). "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock". What we need is to find that "rock" on which to build our existance of these days. This to avoid collapsing in front of the challenges of this virus, which seem to be more dangerous than rain, streams and winds.
Useful advice on living yuor faith from home
There are many ways to live your faith that can be practiced from our homes. We should focus on the meaning of faith at this point. It is important to learn how to live it and espress it at our best at this critical time and also to remain in touch with reality. The meaning of faith is often obscured by emotional falsifications very popular nowadays. "Faith is a personal adherence of the whole man to God who reveals himself. "It involves an assent of the intellect and will to the self-revelation God has made through his deeds and words" 176.
As assent of the intellect and will. Faith is first and foremost a personal act and not necessarily linked to a social context. According to this words we can "live our faith on our own" even though we form part of our community.
This sentence, properly interpreted, means we can live our faith even in a context of privation and emergency as we are facing at present. Living your faith is always possivle, intellect moves our will to find new ways. These could for example be:
- websites with online liturgies
- priests's or Pope speeches online;
- initiatives from our parish;
- personal or family prayer;
- reading the words of God, of the church or of our Saints.
Websites with the daily liturgy
Technology offers a number of opportunities which were not available even a couple of decades ago. We can easily access liturgies online on many websites. There are even several apps for the purpose.
Initiatives by parishes
In the past few weeks, as isolation measures are stepped up by the authorities, many parishes have started many online initiatives. Starting from the live streaming of their Sunday Mass, and the creation of social media pages to keep in touch with the community and send important communication. Such as the beginning of collective prayers and moments of meditation.
Personal and family prayers
Praying is one of the highest forms to live your faith. Those who believe, pray, those who don't pray expose their faith to temptations and their own spiritual impoverishment. To pray, you don't necessarily need to go to church, even though visiting a church is an altogether fuller experience.
If at present you can't go to your local church you can pray from home. Jesus himself taught us how to. "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6,6). Praying is the most urgent thing we must do in moments of crisis. It's the best way to renew your bond with God and never lose your hope and preserve your faith, trust, that nothing is lost. You can pray alone or with your family, redescovering a tradition that has often been lost which is very sweet and comforting.
The Church tradition
Last but not least, to live our faith, come the reading of the words of God and the sacred scriptures. A precious treasure that deserves reading and studying continuously, meditated, prayed and incarnated in our own very being. A wonderful richness that only the foolishness of some heretics wishes it was forgotten as a past tradition if favour of the exaltation of the present. The Church, the faith of the Church, is enrooted in ancient traditions arising from the very advent of our Lord Jesus Christ till today. Without interruption, but with the faithful transmisson of the comunity from generation to generation through the centuries.
Praying from home: the rosary to stay close to God
Praying from home is today the best solution, so we can avoid moving and the spread of the contagious virus. The rosary is on of those devotions that can be carried out, simple to recite and that allows us to meditate on the misteries of the life of Jesus. It is a prayer practiced and recommended by the Church for centuries, where the intercession of Mary can be asked for her children. There are many online resources that teach how to recite the rosary.
Light a candle for a dear one who died
Another way to live your faith from home is to light a candle. Either lighting and placing it in front of a sacred image or sheltered on the balcony. At this peculiar time, if you lost a dear one, you can light a candle online from your home whilst almsgiving. The light of the candle, even that of the symbolic digital one, represents the light of God. We need that light in times of darkness. If you light a real candle at home you can pick the colour, either white but red too, or green, purple, gold and silver.
The lighting of a candle is the victory of light over darkness, the triumph of Light in the word (John 8, 12). Candles can be lit for various reasons: to pray, ask for a grace, perhaps with the intercession of a saint we are particularly devote to. Every country has their favourites and they all belong to the communion of the Saints.
Sin and penance: fasting, almsgiving and prayer
As we said from the beginning, these times of forced isolation that prompts us to live our faith from home, falls with the times of Lent. A time when each christian is called to make penance, fasting, praying and almsgiving. Lighting a candle and almsgiving is a great gesture of charity towards those who suffer. Those we know (children, relatives, frends), but also parishes, foundations and missions which without your offers could not sustain themselves. We should never forget the poor and less priviledged, such for example as the children of the St. Jerome Foundation which cares for many orphans of the liberian war. You can visit their page and make a donation.
Fasting, almsgiving and prayer, these are the weapons in the armory of the christian in this time of isolation due to the spread of the Corona virus, practices which must be rediscovered and put into practice. It remids us of the David against Goliath, but those who are with God can win even the most incredible of battles.
Help towards others: cautio and hope
During this time of isolation due to the Corona virus there are at least two or three dimensions to live our faith: prayer, caution and hope. We saw how prayer is essential to live our faith and how this can be done from home. Alone or with our family, redescovering the beauty of christian traditions.
It is important that the christian be cautions, not afrait but attentive. During this pandemic outbreak caution calls for each of us to stay home. This is not running away from a problem, but avoiding that this virus spreads further. Remaining at home is a charitable gesture toward the weaker members of our society, and the elderly. "Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; the prudent man looks where he is going" 1806. At this time of limitation of our freedom of movement, we display great love towards others by limiting the risk of contagion.
As a consequence of praying, and of being cautios, and of almsgiving there is the theological virtue of hope. It is the answer to the happines of man, that rests his trust not just on his resources, but on God's grace. This time, for many aspects is dramatic, the health emergency compounds with the social and economic one, we must remain firm in our faith. We must resist the temptation of losing trust, becoming discouraged, resigned. We must be trustful and wait for the end of this emergency.
It will all pass, and we will be called to rebuild the future
It will al pass, we simply don't know at this stage how long it will take and what effects it will leave in its trails. But it will pass, and we will be called to rebuild the future, regain ownership of our lives. Hopefully with a conscience and a vision different from before. So that al the grief that is happening today will not have been in vain and so that there can be a time before and better time after the Corona virus. So that what will come afterwards will find us stronger, happiers, more serene and less frantic. This time, in fact, is a great opportunity to live our faith shedding light on the priorities of our lives.
We are use to the ratrace, to be part of production mechanisms which alienate us from the social and personal dimension. Today it is the opposite, we are forced to stay at home and not work, and not have physical contacts. We can bring clarity and order to our priorities in our lives. Rediscovering the meading of what really matters and letting us be ready when we will return to normality. The time of Lent is this, slow down, shed light and rediscover what really matters.
We have the duty to do it, we must not resign ourselves, we must give value to this time. Not simply finding ways to fill it with domestic chores, but making the most of it to learn how to take care of ourselves and those that are close to us. Family, but also those further away that we can easily reach with technology. Taking care of ourselves through prayer, fasting and almsgiving and the re-discovery of the beauty of each life which remains wonderful. Even when pleasurable things are subtracted from it. Because life has an instrinsic value and it's amazing, wonderous, even moving, to re-discover the beauty to be here and be looking ahed for the future.