And yet there seems to be another side effect of the “global pandemic” that has captivated the entire world since mid-February 2020, an increase in falling into sin. No, I don’t have any studies or Pew Research Polls to back this up, but I do have observations that have greatly impacted and enlightened me on this pressing issue that can ultimately determine one's Eternal Salvation of bliss or damnation.
When the world shut down, and in some areas continues to be shut down, our churches were closed, doors locked, “no entry” written on the doors. What does this do for the soul? When one yearns to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation but is told they will have to wait several months, when one desires to receive the Flesh of God in the Eucharist but is told it is unsanitary, what do these things do to the soul? How much harm is caused? If the Church isn’t open, the internet is. The plague of social media exposes one to explosive politics, damning content such as impure images, explicit music and movies, and this list continues for quite some length.
As suggested in this video from Fr. Mark-Mary there has been an incline of those coming to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation since some churches have begun to open up. However, Fr. Mark-Mary releases the news that many have fallen back into mortal sin and sinful habits which had taken over one's soul during the lockdown and when Reconciliation and the Eucharist were forbidden.
By the Grace of God, now that churches are opening and the sacraments can be celebrated in some sense, we must begin to train our souls for salvation. We must not let the fear of a “second surge” dishearten our abilities to enliven our faith, to grow in deep devotion to our God and to the saints. There are many ways that we can prepare our souls, but most importantly it is the daily relationship with Christ and with the Members of His Body, the Church. This relationship strengthens our faith so that when the unpredictable occurs, such as a worldwide shutdown of churches, our faith becomes our beacon of light, our shelter in the storm, our hope when all seems hopeless.
It is time to begin again, to begin praying, learning, and evangelizing.
Our Catholic Faith gives us endless possibilities of devotion. One must keep it simple, one cannot do every devotion in the Church, nor should one try to commit to adhering to multiple devotions that they cannot keep up with. Each person should strive to pray the whole Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious) daily, at the least the days Rosary. Perhaps find an additional one or two other devotions such as Divine Mercy or Holy Face devotions.
We must pick up the books, spiritual and educational. I would argue that the most educational books about our faith are those which teach us about spirituality and our relationship with Jesus and His Church. Earlier this year Called to Tradition published a list of books everyone should read in 2020, I would suggest you add these to your reading list this year. And don’t be shy to purchase several of these books just in case the world decides to shut down again. Literature enriches our soul and our responsibility. The more we know, the more we are able to share with others, and the more we are able to bring into our time of prayer.
Lastly, we must strive to evangelize the best we can. During these times of “social distancing” it may seem impossible to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Many during this time have found innovative ways to spread the Gospel, some through social media, others through notes, and some by providing literature to passing strangers. This young boy in South Bend, Ind. had a great idea, here.
In closing, we must not fear during these times of uncertainty in our Church and in our world, but stay close to Christ Jesus who is our hope. Return to the sacraments if possible. Begin anew to develop your prayer life, your catechesis, and your ways of evangelizing those around you. May we cling to these words from St. Francis de Sales, “Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul except sin. God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.”