If you’re like, well, most people at this point, you’re very likely to start feeling the weight of being on lockdown. The cabin fever is beginning to set (especially for those of us who live in apartments and don’t get space to go outside). The “break” so many of us were looking forward to is starting to feel too drawn out. That excitement felt when the first began live-streaming Masses and prayers may even begin to feel, well, a bit routine. Don’t worry about that last one; I’ve heard priests say that one shouldn’t overdo it with watching all the Masses and liturgical celebrations as it can lead to burn out.
Do you feel like you fall into any or all of these categories? If so, allow me to give you some suggestions on what Catholic activities you can do when you feel like your cabin fever has hit your maximum level.
Penance/charity jars for Catholic charities or parishes
You know swear jars, the little jars where you deposit a certain amount of money every time a cuss word slips out? How about doing the same for every time you slip up on a habitual sin you’re trying to break? It can be every time you say or think something uncharitable about someone, letting laziness overcome you, cussing, etc. The point is to take these very human moments and try to cultivate the opposing virtue. After all, we don’t know when will be the next time we will be able to go to confession and we should do everything we can do try to keep our souls as clean as possible.
Here’s what you need to do: simply pick your habit or sin. If you want, tell at least one other person who live with if you want the added accountability factor. Choose your favorite Catholic charity, parish, and/or order and donate that money you collect at the end of each month. It’ll be a win-win situation! And, okay, no one likes to lose money but your soul will thank you for it and you can totally use a “challenge accepted” meme for motivation on your jar.
Do some liturgical cooking and baking
Yes, I know. It seems like everyone is now on the “cooking and baking” train since most restaurants are closed and grocery shopping is getting tougher to do. However, you can do one better and get into liturgical cooking and baking. It’s simple: take a look at the liturgical calendar and see if any of your favorite holy days or feast days are coming up. Pick one or two days to begin with and create a special meal plan for those days. How you celebrate it is up to you, just make sure it makes sense for the feast day (e.g. Italian food for an Italian saints’ feast day). Don’t forget to talk a little about that feast day with your family as you share that mean. And, yes, you can still do this even if you live on your own.
Create your own board game
Do you have small children, teenagers, or know anyone who wants to convert to Catholicism? If so, flex your creative muscles and come up with your own game. You can modify a board game you already have or simply create your own with crafts supplies or whatever other scraps you may have around the house. If you don’t consider yourself the creative type, you can get the hold family involve. Pick a theme (e.g. heroines of the Old Testament, lessons from the Psalms, “Who said this…?”) and have fun with it. Of course, you’ll need your Bible and/or the Catechism of the Catholic Church to create such a game but, hey, why not? It’ll be a great way to learn (or refresh one’s memory) and it’ll get your mind off of doom and gloom news.
Have a spelling bee
Hear me out. You know how some saints have some super long and/or difficult names? Why not turn it into a sort of spelling bee for the whole family and/or house full of roommates? You can go through any online saints’ database and look up the most difficult names you can find. Designate one person to be the moderator and have everyone else study the list of names you want for each round. How many rounds, saints’ names, and length of time to memorize how to spell the names is up to you. The winner gets . . . well, if you’re doing liturgical baking or cooking, it can be that extra sweet treat that is always left over. That or whatever prize you all agree upon.
I feel like I don’t have to explain this one too much. Just like the idea of picking a theme for a Catholic board game, pick a theme for charades. It could be the Apostles, the Kings of the Old Testament, the key moments in the Synoptic Gospels, etc. Have a designated moderator (preferably someone who knows their Biblical history well) write down either people, moments, or whatever is relevant to your theme. Split into two teams (or face off against your roommate) and act them out!
Write your own saint and/or biblical songs and stories
Channel your inner budding musician and create your own song. It doesn’t have to be a “Weird Al” Yankovic-style parody (though those are always a lot of fun; I speak from experience) or an original composition. You can use an established melody or modify some lyrics to create your unique compositions (as long as there’s no copyright infringement, of course). You can also use some of your favorite saints’ quotes and create your own creative story from it. I once wrote a short story based on some wise words by St. Teresa of Avila for a creative writing assignment as an undergrad. If you want to make it a “talent show” night, you can also do that with whomever you’re currently living with. If you’re living by yourself, you can share them with your friends and family through virtual means.
These are just some of the many ideas you can come up with during this time. The whole point is to not let your spirit be dampened. Yes, it’s so much easier said than done because of the gravity of the situation. I’m not suggesting we completely ignore what’s going on. However, for the sake of our mental health, let’s try to think outside of the box and spend some time thinking of something fun and non-COVID-19-related things to think about. Trust me, it’ll do you a lot of good!
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