Our personal and social worlds have been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic.  I am thankful to still have my health, but the loss of community and routine due to social distancing and isolation has been troubling.  When I go through periods where my world is shaken, I like to think of Gabriel’s words to Mary during the Annunciation.  Gabriel said, “do not be afraid.  You have found favor with God.”  Mary was given this mission because God knew that she was strong. Through her perseverance and His guidance, she was able to carry out her mission of bearing our Redeemer.

One way I am trying to address the loss of community during this time is through prayer and reaching out to people through the telephone as much as I am able.  Complete dedication to helping others without physically being with them is a solitary and difficult undertaking.  I once asked a friend of mine, Father Stephen, “when we are asked to pray for so many people and intentions, how can you manage such a heavy task?”  He says that he asks the Blessed Mother to intercede on their behalf.  Like it says in the Memorare:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,

implored your help, or sought your intercession,

was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence,

I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.

To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,

despise not my petitions,

but in your mercy, hear and answer me.

This reinforces the fact that, in addition to Jesus, Mary is always with us and our prayers will be answered, even if it is not in the timing or context we would expect it to be.

When we shift our acts of faith to more solitary pursuits, under Mary’s protection and endless love, we can be helped by her in our prayers for others.  Even if we can’t be in community with one another in person, prayer and phone calls to others to check in can go very far during this time.

As fulfillers of God’s will as best as we can, we have often tried to work hard to strengthen our faith, in addition to the words and prayers we try to say every day, by lending our ears to our friends even if we can’t physically be with them.

One thing I miss about worshipping as a community of faith is attending mass at Wartburg and my parish in Bronxville, St. Joseph’s.  During this time of isolation, one of the things I’ve been doing is listening to the Rosary through my smart speaker a couple of times a day.  I have more time on my hands, and when I have prayed on my own in recent times, my thoughts tend to be interrupted.  The Rosary is something I am attempting to focus on more, opening my ears to the prayer as I try to pray for others.

Hope is crucial to get through a time like this.  By prayer and reaching out, we can be a beacon of hope during these trying times.