March 25 - 421
The Roman Empire was falling and barbarians were sweeping across modern day Italy. Villagers would hear the approaching raiders and flee into the channels and small islands that surrounded them. When the raiders would leave, they would try to reestablish their homes in the surrounding plains, only to be run into hiding again.
Before I go too much further into this story, I am sure you are all wondering how this relates to Catholicism or the current situation. I do not want to spoil the surprise, so bear with me. I promise it all fits together.
Now back to our story,
The arrival of Attila the Hun forced many of the Venetians to accept what they had likely been thinking for a long time. They made permanent residence on the Islands around present day Venice.
It may not have been preferable to living in the swamps and channels when there was farmland close by, but this arrangement had some benefits. The Venetians were able to stay above the petty rivalries and regional wars that took Italy by storm in the middle ages, and build a thriving trade built on the two things they had available to them. Fish and Salt.
Today I am sure many Venetians are feeling the effects of the spread of the virus and the lockdown that has spread across all of Italy. God always provides small ways to help our situation if we look. In Venice one small positive for the residents is their channels used for transportation have cleared up and are not as dirty.
This, however small, must be a relief. If you have to stay inside looking at water, at least it is clean right? God wants to make us as comfortable as we can, but not so comfortable we do not need him.
Here in Illinois we are on a shelter in place edict from the government. Things are crazy here, and we are not nearly as hard hit in Central Illinois as people are in Italy. Or in other areas of the US. Masses are cancelled and many people are scared and starting to lose their faith.
Do not lose hope.
Even during this time we can find benefits to our current arrangement. Being on lockdown and in our houses is definitely not preferable, but God makes everything happen for a reason.
I have found two main positive aspects
1.) Growth in Faith
2.) Growth in Appreciation
Growing Closer to God
We may not have mass in person, but there are hundreds if not thousands of options for live streamed masses. Check out the University of Illinois St. John’s Newman Center Youtube Channel for one good option. They also have reflections put together by one of the priests that I highly recommend.
This is also the perfect time to pick up a new devotion. We may not have mass, and this may seem like something unprecedented. It is not. Daily and even weekly communion is a relatively modern phenomenon. This is part of the reason that the rosary was developed.
The rosary evolved from the laity wanting to imitate the Divine Office of Catholic Monks, which is all 150 Psalms. Many of the laity could not read, however, so they replaced the Psalms with Hail Marys. This was far before Luminous Mysteries were added by JPII in 2002, so there were three mysteries and 15 decades that equaled 150 Hail Marys.
That is one way of many. Put in the comments below your favorite devotion and how you are still growing closer to God during this time.
We live in a hectic world. One of our coined responses that we seem eager to tell everyone is that we are “busy.” This business often gets in the way of things that are actually important. We use it to hide.
When you are locked in a house with your loved ones, tensions can flare and feelings will get hurt. Do not let Satan enter in. He is trying to destroy the opportunity that you have to grow close to your loved ones.
Things are slowing down. God wants us to focus on what matters. Work is important and social lives are important, but they are not the end all be all. God and your family are.
Francesca told me this past weekend that she was sad we could not go to Italy and have our marriage blessed by the Pope, but she wasn’t as sad as she expected. When I asked her why she said it was because she had realized that our marriage already was blessed.
That hit me hard. I was complaining about not being able to travel abroad and the money we lost on a couple hotels that would not reimburse us. She was focused on the bright side and saw through the frustration of the situation.
We should all try to be more like that.
Be sure to send your prayers out to all of those that have been harmed in any way by the virus. If you get time today, please make a post on Facebook, Instagram, or send a text to a loved one about what you are grateful for during this time.
P.S. Happy Feast of the Annunciation!
Photo by Wolfgang Moroder courtesy of Wikimedia Commons