The past few weeks have certainly been stressful for most of us. Less than two months ago, the life-threatening virus that has infected people around the world was, for many of us, an interesting international news story. Today, many of us are sheltering in place, hoping to stop or slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the Vatican has cancelled their annual public celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. Pope Francis has been conducting his weekly audiences via livestream from a library in the Apostolic Palace.
This has been, and will continue to be, a very long Lent. Today I want to commend our writers who have responded to the pandemic with news, resources, information, and reflections. Here is a roundup of what we have done so far:
Dan Amiri has begun doing the work of compiling the Wednesday teachings of Pope Francis by topic, using an online course tool call CourseCraft. Essentially, this is a way to read Francis’s teaching systematically. You will be able to track your progress and discuss the teachings with others. The first series he’s compiled is Francis’s series of teachings on the seven sacraments from 2014. More will be added in the weeks to come.
This is a resource I put together prior to the worldwide Rosary with Pope Francis on March 19. It is an update of the previous Rosary Help Sheet I created back in October 2018. Like the original prayer guide, it is a 1-page, letter-sized “cheat sheet” with all the mysteries and prayers of the Rosary. This updated version also includes the prayers to Our Lady and St. Joseph during this pandemic.
In Carlos Colorado’s first piece for WPI, he reflects on the life of the martyred St. Oscar Romero, and discusses how the Archbishop from El Salvador is a model of the Christian ideal of martyrdom. While Romero was willing to risk his own life in defense of the Gospel, he went to great lengths to protect the safety of others. In this time of lockdowns and social distancing, we can live out our own martyrdom by being cautious and doing everything we can not to infect other people with the disease.
Dan Amiri discusses the Catholic teaching on spiritual communion, a valid way to “receive the fruits of the Sacrament” when we are unable to attend Mass or receive the Eucharist physically.
Nathan Turowsky adds to his “Loneliness Today” reflections with a post on the restlessness and isolation that many will inevitably experience during this time. Drawing on the words of Pope Francis, he offers advice and suggestions to help people remain engaged and connected.
In response a a reckless and irresponsible tweet from the radical traditionalist podcaster Taylor Marshall, who suggested that the pandemic was retribution for the worship of “idols” in the Vatican, Pedro Gabriel reflects on the mysterious nature of suffering, and how it affects both the guilty and the innocent. This is especially apt in light of this past Sunday’s Gospel reading from John chapter 9, about the man born blind.
Dan Amiri, who has written frequently about how we should spend less time on social media, discusses how in times like these, social media can play a key role in keeping us connected to one another.
Paul Fahey explains the Catholic teachings on general absolution and perfect contrition, in light of a new document from the Apostolic Penitentiary. He reflects on how God’s mercy is not bound by the sacraments, and in states of emergency, we can still receive God’s forgiveness and grace.
Nathan Turowsky discusses the new letter from the Apostolic Penitentiary on the plenary indulgences available during the pandemic. Nathan mentions how this document reminded him of both the Pope’s “power of the keys” and one of Francis’s favorite devotions: Our Lady Undoer of Knots, and how both can come to our aid at this time.
David Wanat provides a history lesson about the relationship between the Church and the field of medicine in response to epidemics throughout the centuries. He reminds us that the Church has always relied on the guidance of scientific experts when making decisions about how to keep people safe and what precautions to take.
Dan Amiri looks at the economic cost of the pandemic, and reminds us of our collective responsibility to protect the common good and the welfare of others.
Hopefully the articles and resources above will provide you with some thoughts to ponder and pray about. I am very proud of how this talented group of writers has truly stepped up during such a difficult time.
Meanwhile, you might notice that the site looks a little different today. I’ve been meaning to spruce up the design for quite some time, and I finally had the time to do it. There are still a few kinks to work out (I notice the search button is missing from the top menu – I will try to figure out where it went. My goal was to give the site a cleaner, less “clunky” look. I also adjusted the text color (previously it was a dark gray, now it is black).
As for the font; well, I was looking through the font choices and stumbled across one called “Amiri.” Whether that’s a coincidence or divine providence, blame Dan if you don’t like it.
Enjoy the rest of your Monday and stay healthy! If you are sick, you are in my prayers.
Image: Adobe stock.