Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday Soul Session: Faith Grows in Quarantine

By Allyson Escobar

In mid-March, I slipped into my local church for daily Mass on a rainy Friday morning, taking a back seat. The church wasn't filled, but Mass-goers were sprinkled throughout the pews; everyone sitting a few feet apart. We received the Holy Eucharist, celebrated the sacament, together in unison. 

A week later, all Masses in every diocese nationwide were cancelled. Daily and Sunday Masses quickly shifted to digital, Facebook and Instagram Live format. Parish events, weddings, Lenten fish-frys; everything was being rescheduled or altogether cancelled left and right. 

I had no idea that Friday Mass would be the last one I’d attend. The last time I’d get to consume the Holy Eucharist, at least for a little while. 
As a Catholic young adult living in the U.S., watching all of this happen slowly, then all at once, feels surreal. 

At first, the novel coronavius seemed distant, far away — something terrible happening somewhere else. Now the pandemic is not only local, but is spreading at a rapid, terrifying pace. As the world’s health heroes and researchers continue their selfless service day after day, those of us in self-quarantine, privileged to be at home, have been doing our small but mighty part. (And yes, it makes a difference.)

But in all the chaos, there has been connection. There are always reasons to smile, laugh, find hope and inspiration in this world. 

When I say 'fruit,' I'm referencing the Scripture about good fruit, or results, that come about from life events or experiences.
One of the biggest fruits came Friday, March 27, when Pope Francis delivered an extraordinary ‘Urbi et Orbi,’ typically only said by the Pope on special holidays in the church, to an empty St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. He granted an exceptional plenary indulgence, a blessing, for Catholics around the world, fervently praying for an end to the months-long pandemic.(On top of that came another fruit — a longtime agonostic woman in Italy, deeply moved after watching the Pope’s message, converted to Christianity.) 

If you haven’t yet watched or read the full address, I really recommend you should. It brought me to my knees. There’s something about praying in Holy Adoration with the leader and father of the global Catholic Church. It was humbling to witness the Pope walk alone in the rain (an epic sight, might I add) to deliver his message of hope. Watching him bow to kiss the feet of Jesus at the Crucifix was gut-wrenching. Seeing his concerned, pensive expression before the altar was gratifying.   

But it was Pope Francis’ words that tugged at my heartstrings, and reminded me of the very thing we all need most, especially now: faith. 

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith? Faith begins when we realize we are in need of salvation.We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with Him on board, there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God, life never dies.”
Pope Francis
Faith, at its most basic level, is the belief in things not yet seen. And fruit is the gift of seeing all those good, beautiful things. The Pope’s words remind everyone (both Catholics and non-Catholics alike) that there is salvation and serenity in this storm. In the driest of deserts, there is fruit. And in the midst of a global pandemic, there is peace. 

So let’s use this time to let our faith grow in quarantine. I’m not ignoring the chaos going on in the world right now. Things are difficult, yes, but God is also using this time — appropriately during Lent — to plant deep seeds of faith. It’s up to us to let them grow.

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