Answering God’s invitation Print
Bishop Hying's Column
Written by Bishop Donald J. Hying   
Thursday, Mar. 26, 2020 -- 12:00 AM
Bishop Donald J. Hying's column

Needless to say, this global pandemic is unprecedented in our history, especially in terms of its impact on our daily lives. The consequences of our essential shutdown as a nation are far reaching and disturbing.

We are all praying for the victims worldwide -- those who have died, those who are ill and suffering the effects of this corona virus. We pray for health care workers, first responders, and government leaders who must feel overwhelmed. I pray for our elderly and vulnerable populations, including the poor and the homeless. I pray for those who have lost income already and are economically struggling. We think of families who have their children home all the time. All of this equates to tremendous stress, anxiety, suffering, and fear.

God is inviting us

In the face of all of this, God is inviting us to a deeper, radical trust in Him. In some ways, with our normal routines disrupted and many of our securities stripped away, we are faced with a profound existential moment -- do I truly believe in God and confide my life to His mercy or not?

Our whole life of faith and practice of our religion has prepared us for this trial. Now is the time for us to truly let our faith in the Lord shine forth for others to see and draw strength from our witness. In some ways, with the suspension of public Masses, this time reminds me of the Babylonian captivity in the Old Testament.

The Jewish people suffered the loss of the Temple, their country, their property, and many lost loved ones. They found themselves enslaved in a foreign land. All they had was their faith in the Lord and they found that that was enough.

Perhaps God is inviting us to make the same discovery now. This Lent is one we never bargained for. The mortifying sacrifices and charitable deeds we resolved to undertake on Ash Wednesday may pale in comparison to the challenges and crosses that have been imposed upon us in this moment.

As Christians, I encourage all of us to allow this moment of difficulty and challenge to be spiritually fruitful for us, knowing that death and suffering always lead to new life. We are moving from the ashes of a grave illness, loss of employment, and a collapsing stock market to an ultimately deeper and richer relationship of faith and trust in the Lord.

Grow in faith, hope, and love

Here are some suggested ways to grow in faith, hope, and love in these challenging days.

1. Watch Mass daily online, uniting your prayer to the Holy Sacrifice. Make a Spiritual Communion at Communion time, inviting the Lord into your heart.

2. Pray the Rosary with your family every day. The power of this holy prayer to the Mother of God is remarkable and unfailing. Entrust your worries to her maternal protection.

3. Read the Bible daily. Take time to explore the Word of God. Scripture has both words of comfort and challenge for us. The Bible contains everything that God wants to say to us.

4. Do spiritual reading. Explore the Liturgy of the Hours or Lectio Divina or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Abundant resources online can help you find new ways to pray or discover new spiritual insights.

5. Visit your parish church to pray before the Eucharist or go to Confession if it seems prudent to do so.

6. Practice little acts of charity towards your family and friends. Being together so much can certainly make tensions rise. An ounce of patience, forbearance, and charity in a moment of trial and stress is worth more than a pound of it when everything is smooth and easy.

7. Witness to your faith in Jesus as the source of your hope and peace in these challenging days. This time is an opportune moment to show others the Source of your hope and calm. As the Scriptures say, the earth can rock, the mountains can fall in to the sea, the pestilence can prowl in the darkness but we will not be moved. Our faith is in Christ. I do not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. When others are afraid, angry, anxious, speak lovingly and boldly of your faith, the power of prayer, the meaning of the Eucharist, the love and mercy of Jesus. Christ is the only One who can heal the maladies of this world.

I have granted permission for a plenary indulgence to be given if you pray the Rosary with a group or read the Scripture for 30 minutes. This indulgence is given if one is sorry for one's sins and resolved to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion as soon as is possible.

In all of this, please know my spiritual closeness, prayers, concern, and love for you. We are bound together in the great Mystical Body of Christ and nothing can separate us from Him and each other, except sin, fear and despair.

Peace and mercy to all of you!

Also, at this time, we continue to pray for Catholic Herald Editor Mary C. Uhler, as she recovers in the hospital following a major health episode.

Our Lady, Health of the Sick, pray for us!