in this moment
Quarantine is derived from the Italian word quaranta, meaning “forty”; in Latin, the word is quadraginta. During Lent, we are called in a sense to quarantine ourselves from the physical things that keep us distanced from God — through acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
In light of the current global pandemic, we have been asked to quarantine ourselves from each other through social distancing to help reduce the spread of disease. While we are separated from our friends, our teammates, our co-workers, and even family, and while the sacraments may be restricted, we do not have to be separated from our God.
We invite you to connect more closely with God with the content below which we hope lifts your spirits and extends healing and prayers to those who are affected. While we are unable to be together physically, our Church can still be united spiritually.
Why is this happening? – Revisited
Coronavirus isn’t going anywhere. At least, not fast enough. And so, even though we’ve decided to accept this plague as a punishment for our sins, our thoughts return to this mysterious providence, this loving providence of God. Why is He doing this to us?
In our last segment, we realized that we may never know with certitude the details of why God wove this contagion into His plan for our salvation. However, there are certain principles that help point us in the right direction, in fact, in the very direction that led us to take it earlier as a call for repentance.
First, as our Holy Father Augustine says, “Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.” Note, that God allows evil is a sign of His power and goodness, not weakness or indifference to our plight.
So for example, Sunday of last week we heard in the Gospel about the man born blind. Here is an evil, not being able to see when human nature is designed to. But when asked what this blindness was all about, Jesus points to a greater good: “It is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
Assuredly, God’s glory is a greater good than man’s blindness is an evil. And so, we often hear this principle expanded to say: God only permits an evil to bring a greater good out of it. How do we know the good result is greater than the evil endured?
The answer to this is our second principle: the supernatural realm is higher than the natural realm. The things of moral order, the order of grace, are greater—infinitely greater—than the things of the physical order, the order of nature. Life in this world is good; life forever is infinitely better. This is what is behind Jesus’ own saying, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Let us be clear. Coronavirus is evil. Sickness is evil, being the lack of due health. Unemployment is evil, the deprivation of gainful employment to support the family. Death is evil, the greatest of natural evils. All of these, and many other things, are direct or indirect effects of this plague. But sin is infinitely worse.
On the other hand, the love of God and the salvation of souls are good, incomparably good. Would so many confessions have been heard, if not for this pestilence? Would so many prayers have been said? Would so many people have woken up, turned from their sinful ways, and returned to Christ? Would the desire for God have been nearly as sharpened as it is now, when we feel distant from Him? We see then the wisdom of St. Paul’s pen: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).
On the Third Sunday of Lent we heard of Jesus and the woman at the well. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Jesus thirsts; His asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for Him” (2560). We’ve suddenly realized how thirsty we are, how parched without God. And that in itself is a very good thing.
Why is this happening?
It’s the most natural question, one that all of us are asking. Why is God allowing this? Is this a punishment for sins?
The providence of God is mysterious, often inscrutable, but always loving. His full motivations for this trial may be opaque to us, but following the Fathers and Doctors of the Church we can always receive this time of uncertainty, sickness, and sorrow as a correction from our loving Father. In other words, no matter why God gives it to us, we can always and with profit take it as penance.
No moment is more important than the one immediately after our death, when we have a serious heart to heart discussion with Jesus about our lives, answering for everything we’ve ever done. We call this the Particular Judgment, and upon that moment hangs our eternal happiness. Are we ready?
When we look it straight in the face, most of us would balk at a confident, “Yes!” And so we repent, beg God to forgive us our sins, and promise to steer clear of all those sins in the future.
What can we do? Churches are closing, sacraments are increasingly hard to come by, so what are we supposed to do? Remember, God is your loving Father. If you feel your heart stirring with compunction, if your eyes are being opened to spiritual realities, if you want time to repent, He has put that desire within you; it’s a sign that His grace is moving your heart. God is on your side!
Last year, following another crisis in the Church, we offered you the Seven Penitential Psalms as a time-honored way of both expressing and fostering that interior conversion we all so desperately need. So here we give it to you again. Soon there will also be videos to lead you in the chaplet of divine mercy, the rosary, and the stations of the cross. Join us in prayer for God’s mercy upon us, our loved ones, and the whole world.
New Abbey Construction Site Tour
Amidst this tragic time of church closures and absence of the sacraments, we want to offer you hope and something to look forward to in the very near future. Join the new abbey construction site tour with Fr. Justin and Fr. Ambrose.
Christos Anesti! Since the faithful could not attend our Easter liturgies, we here share with you homilies from the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses.
Holy Week Reflections
Since the faithful could not attend our Holy Week liturgies, Abbot Eugene wanted the preachers to give extended spiritual reflections, which we here share with you for your greater entry into the mysteries of our salvation.
Pray a Novena
Join in praying a video novena led by the Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey.
Join us in praying this powerful novena.
A Prayer for This Time
A selection of reflections
by Fr. Pio Vottola, O.Praem.
Laetare Sunday (2020)
by Fr. Victor Szczurek, O.Praem.
Thirst and Water
by Fr. Pio Vottola, O.Praem.
If You Ask Anything in My Name, I Will Do It
by Fr. Miguel Batres, O.Praem.
St. Michael’s and the Pandemic
by Fr. Chrysostom Baer, O.Praem., Prior
Let us join our hearts in prayer…
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Jesus, I trust in You.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy calls down mercy upon us and the whole world by offering the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus to His Father in the Holy Spirit. Now more than ever we need the mercy of God to heal and strengthen us and defeat this virus.
Stations of the Cross
Video Stations of the Cross
During this time of great suffering, we can walk with Jesus Christ and imitate Him with the Stations of the Cross. Jesus seeks to teach us at each station, and He invites us to share in His life, suffering, death, and resurrection.
We can still receive
Spiritual communion allows us to receive many of the same graces as a sacramental communion, if we are well disposed and ardently seek to be united to Jesus and each other in faith, hope, and especially charity.
A Spiritual Communion
A Short Act of Spiritual Communion
Practical Ways to Make a Spiritual Communion
Pray the Rosary
The Holy Rosary is a powerful way to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus and Mary and to receive special graces against evil, like the Coronavirus. In the past, the Holy Rosary helped bring both victory over evil and strength to souls with the power of Jesus Christ through Mary, His Mother.
Video coming soon.
Become a member of the Abbot's Circle.
We are blessed to provide this content to you during this difficult time. We are able to do so because of the Abbot’s Circle - a passionate group of monthly givers committed to supporting the future of the Church through the various life-changing ministries of the Norbertine Fathers at St. Michael's Abbey.
The Gospel passage we just heard comprises the entire fifteenth chapter of Luke, all thirty-two verses. It reminds me of St. Justin Martyr’s second century description of the Mass: “On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members,” he says. “The recollections of the Apostles are read, as long as there is time.”
Fortunately the three parables are fairly clear in their literal meaning; let us examine but some few points for their spiritual import. In the parable of the lost sheep, notice how our Lord even phrases the question: “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?” The scribes and Pharisees may not have been shepherds, but they weren’t stupid. Not one of them would have left the ninety-nine to find the one because that’s the best way of losing the ninety-nine and still not finding the one.
But in this they did not understand the deeper contrast Christ Jesus was drawing between God and man. Man has to leave one place to go to another. God remains with the ninety-nine even as He goes off to find the one. The life of grace is not lost in the ninety-nine while He seeks by grace to draw back the heart of the one. And the only way man can have a glimpse at how much God wants a sinner’s heart is by realizing He is so crazy with love as to leave the sure thing in favor of the impossible risk.
The other side of this perspective is the father in the parable of the prodigal son. Without ever leaving his house, his vision extends to his son who is “still a long way off,” which implies not only that he was looking for him but that also his sight sees him where he is. Put the two parables together, and we see that only if the Good Shepherd goes in search of the stray can the squalid son lift his head from the pig sty to dream of happiness at home. Only then does the Father see his wretched son afar off and in mercy run out to meet him.
The reaction of son and father are perfect. The son resolves to confess, and in his shame to accept a dignity lower than is truly his. He does confess, but the father does not let him even ask for what is beneath him, let alone allow him to ask and then deny it to him, and instead enriches his son with tokens of love and esteem: the finest robe, a ring, sandals to wear, and the fattened calf to feast upon.
When in our sins we can no longer hide from the Good Shepherd and so we confess our sins to the Father’s representative, we are never lowered beneath our dignity as sons and daughters of God. Rather, every mark of honor we threw away is returned to us in love. We are again clothed with the finest robe of sanctifying grace and charity which we received at baptism. The ring is the signet whose seal of the Holy Spirit we received at confirmation. Sandals are mortification from worldliness by separating us from the earth and keeping us from getting dirty as we tread the paths of this life; they also prepare our feet to run with the truths of the Gospel. “How beautiful upon the mountains,” says Isaiah, “are the feet of him who brings glad tidings.” In such a state, the full Catholic life in all its majesty, we are ready to feast on the fattened calf, Christ Jesus Himself sacrificed for our sins and given to us as food in the Holy Eucharist.
This is the happiness of our eternal Father. His food is our salvation. His joy is our redemption from sin. As St. John Chrysostom says, “He feasts on the fruit of His mercy by the sacrifice of His Son.” This is the festivity of the household ministers, the harmony of the angels, the symphony of the saints. And it is for us every time we go to confession.
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