For some of us it has been over a month since we last partook of the Holy Eucharist. Others, like those in Northern Italy, have been without for over 8 weeks. Though priests throughout the world are still celebrating Mass, the general public is unable to go to Mass in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. When deprived of the most sublime form of intimacy with Jesus Christ on this side of Heaven, the Holy Eucharist, how are we to connect with God?
St. John Vianney once said, “This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies. Prayer is nothing else but union with God.” Keeping in mind this “glorious duty of man,” below are eight tips for connecting with God amidst this crisis:
1. Sacred Scripture
When we go to Mass we feast at the table of God’s Word and Body. Though we cannot partake of Christ’s Body and Blood in a tangible way (though we can enjoy spiritual communion), we can still encounter Christ through the Scriptures. During this Lent, I’ve taken the Church’s recommendation to read scripture thirty minutes per day and this has been a very powerful way to connect with God. The Scriptures are “living and active,” (Heb. 4:12) so let God speak to you through his Holy Word.
2. Holy imagination
God is with us. The saints follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and the Lamb of God is with you. Unlock your imagination. Take a few moments to imagine Jesus putting his arm around you, or Mary covering you with her mantle. Imagine God walking with you in the cool of the day. These are all true things. St. Paul exhorts us to meditate on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8). All of these things are summed up in the Face of Christ, so meditate on him.
3. Dust off your rosary
A most powerful weapon and tool of forging ever-deeper intimacy with Jesus, the Rosary allows us to enter into the life of Christ through the eyes of her who knew him best, Mary. The promises attributed to praying the Rosary daily are too many to list here. Though it may seem intimidating or even boring to pray the Rosary each day, I promise that it will be worth it. For me, it took about three months of praying the Rosary each day before it became a true treasure. Now it is my favorite form of prayer because it allows me to encounter Christ in fresh ways every day.
4. Recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet
I heard Fr. Mike Schmitz give this recommendation, because the “Eternal Father” prayer that is prayed during the Divine Mercy Chaplet connects us with the heart of the Mass. These prayers not only allow us to mystically experience and participate in the Mass, but also beckons God to bestow his mercy upon us. I’m sure we can all agree that we are in desperate need of God’s mercy. Let us storm heaven with these prayers for mercy!
5. YouTube Masses & Adoration
It’s not the same as being there in person, yet seeing the Mass online or adoring our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament online can help us be more united to the universal Church in this hour of social distancing. It has been encouraging to see our priests still reverently celebrate the Mass. Once again, though we cannot tangibly receive the Eucharist, we are invited to enjoy spiritual communion through prayer.
6. Zoom or FaceTime Friends and Family
We encounter Christ through others. Despite our limited physical interactions with the People of God, we can still connect with each other through technology. I was recently a part of a small group over a Zoom video call. My three best friends and I also used Zoom to connect with one another as well. This is also a great time to FaceTime family. All of these amazing tools can help us remain connected to each other and show our love for one another. By loving others, we are loving God.
Many years ago, when I was in high school, a camp counselor of mine encouraged me to spend at least a week out in nature each year to connect with God. This may not be possible for you right now, depending on where you live, but if you are able to leave your home and go on hikes (while maintaining social distancing) then I highly encourage you to do so. Of course, this is good for your physical and mental health, but it is also good for your spiritual health. There’s nothing quite like seeing the grandeur of God through the grandeur of nature.
8. Enjoy the Silence
Did you know that the Holy Trinity lives in you by virtue of your Baptism? “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn. 14:23). God is closer to you than your breath. When you are still and silent, you can hear the whisperings of God. He is alive in you! Be not afraid to go deep into the interior during this time or isolation and encounter God in the depths of your soul. He is with you and loves you!
“‘Be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”(Ps. 46:10-11)