Coronavirus, COVID-19, Social Distancing, Self-isolation, flattening the curve – A few short weeks ago, these were terms that were unfamiliar and unused by most of us. Today, they are a part of everyday conversation, and the media and social media are overrun with references to disease and isolation.
It is very easy to become overwhelmed at times like these, to feel like the normal business of living has become anything but normal. It is very easy to become fearful, to worry, to despair, and to wonder how God could possibly have a hand in anything we are now experiencing.
As I write this, I am experiencing a period of self-isolation, and I am doing a lot of worrying and wondering. To be honest, I am also somewhat frustrated. It is difficult for many of us to “stay put,” to not have the freedom to go where we want and do what we want. It is very inconvenient to be isolated. And, even if I could go out, there is really nowhere to go.
But through contemplation and prayer, I realize that, although I am inconvenienced, there are many people who are sick and dying. I am thus far fortunate that I am house-bound and not hospital-bound. Of course, sickness and disease are nothing new. During the lifetime of St. Ignatius, widespread illness, plagues, and quarantines were a routine part of everyday life.
In 1554, St. Ignatius wrote to a fellow Jesuit, who was quarantined,
During this troubling time, let us remember St. Ignatius’ words, and find solace in the fact that many throughout history have lived through times such as these, and that suffering can bring us closer to God.
Please keep the Jesuits in your prayers during this month of April. They are grateful for your prayers and pray for you daily.
Barry J. Leidl