By Fr. John Jasica

As we journey through this most difficult time dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all making changes, adapting to various circumstances and realizing hopefully what are the most important people and things in our lives. With stores, schools, businesses and churches closed in addition to the fact that we need to physically distance ourselves—we may feel lost, afraid and alone. Despite all of these things, our faith is one thing that doesn’t need to fade away.

THE GIFT OF FAITH

Even though we cannot go to Mass and receive communion, nor can we go to Confession during this Lenten season—we need to make a choice about looking at this unfortunate time as an opportunity to build up different aspects of our spiritual lives at home.

I remember in elementary school a friend of mine prayed the rosary every night after dinner with his family. There were times that I tried to call him (rotary phone & landlines back then) and no one would answer. Later in the evening I would connect with him and he mentioned that no one can answer the phone while they prayed the rosary. This was a daily ritual they celebrated together. Something missing in most of our lives today. The chance to shut down everything else and pray with those around us.

Times have changed and technology has as well. We can use the tv and even more these days the internet to pray and strengthen our faith. We at St. George have many opportunities online at the parish website to deepen ones personal faith. For any of this to truly happen, we need to make the choice to make time for God. I guarantee that if you do, your life will be more peaceful in the midst of crisis and be filled with more joy no matter what is going on around you. I want to share just a few ideas that may help you start.

(1) PRAY WITH SCRIPTURE

The Church teaches that when we are at Mass there are two tables—the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist. At both tables we are fed by Christ. This means that at a time when we cannot receive communion, we can be filled with the presence of Jesus through the scriptures. Jesus still feeds our souls in this powerful way as we know His words are truth and life.

There are a number of apps and websites that can help you pray with the bible today. All free and very easy to use. Find a quiet place, maybe light a candle or place a crucifix on a table. Quiet your heart and mind. Read the readings of the day or pick your favourite scripture passage and ponder what Jesus is trying to tell you in that moment. With practice this form of lectio divina (sacred reading) will help you cherish the Word of God more.

(2) SPIRITUAL READING

Another powerful way to deepen one’s faith and pray is spiritual reading. There are a lot of wonderful spiritual books out there that can help build your personal faith. Whether it is written by one of the saints, popes, theologians or amazing faith-filled authors, they can feed the soul and offer another angle on so many aspects of faith. Their reflections can help us deepen our understanding of God.

You can download books and read them with your iPad which I have done or subscribe to an online book club service like Audible and listen to books. I have done that recently and truly enjoy listening to books while I am out for a walk or taking some quiet time to reflect. There are many options but again rooted in a choice we need to make.

(3) PODCASTS

Podcasts are another way to pray. We have THE WARM UP that comes out every Monday which takes time to reflect on the upcoming Sunday gospel. Bishop Robert Barron has a wonderful weekly homily series in

addition to the Word On Fire show that talks about different aspects of faith. You can pray the rosary, litanies and the Way of the Cross right from your smart phone or computer. Yet another easily accessible method of deepening your faith at home, alone or with your family.

ROUTINE IS KEY

I have just shared a few ways to deepen your spiritual life. Regardless of what you do, the important thing is to create a routine or schedule of prayer. Consistency is important. Much like exercise, we need to pray regularly to build our relationship with God and strengthen our hearts!! This takes practice and repetition over a long period of time. Soon we will notice our prayer getting deeper and our lives becoming fuller.

Our own personal spiritual lives help strengthen the gift of our parish life. We really need both to become the faithful disciple God has called us to be. Don’t be afraid to start—just go for it and see how God changes your life!!