Lent During the Pandemic

Crown of Thorns, Crown of Glory

“Corona” means “crown,” and given the way the coronavirus is disrupting our lives, parish, community, nation, and the whole world, it may feel as though it has been crowned king. But Jesus Christ is still King of the Universe. After enduring the mockery of a crown of thorns, he is now “crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death” (Hebrews 2:9). Our Lady united her sufferings with our Lord’s, and as a reward she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. Likewise, we are promised that “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

During the second half of this unusual Lent, let us remind ourselves that Christ reigns as King of our lives and of all creation. Nothing can change that, including the coronavirus. Let us pray and fast for everyone effected by the pandemic, imploring our Lady’s intercession in our homes and our parish. And let us do what we can to serve our suffering neighbors in union with our suffering Savior. If we persevere together, Christ will transform our crown of thorns into a crown of glory.

Prayer: Options for Home and Our Parish

With all Masses suspended and social distancing keeping many of us away from the parish, it is more important than ever that we seek the Lord in prayer. It’s also crucial that we pray together in our families, especially on Sundays. Let us intensify our prayer, whether or not we can make it to the church building, and Christ will equip us with everything we need to endure.

  • Offer your prayers for those who are sick, those who have died, those who are suffering because of disruptions to their daily lives, those who are afraid, those who are vulnerable, healthcare workers, and government officials tasked with protecting the public.
  • Go to www.oll.org/pandemic-prayer to submit a prayer intention for Fr. Mike’s daily Mass, to read the daily Scriptures with Fr. Mike, and to pray daily with your fellow parishioners.
  • Watch 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass with Fr. Mike on FacebookYouTube, or the St. Francis website.
  • Come to the church for an informal time of prayer during the usual times for weekend Masses (Saturdays from 5-6 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.).
  • Pray in the chapel during regular office hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday).
  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on March 26 from 5-8 p.m. or on any Saturday from 9-10 a.m.
  • Download the myParish app to access daily readings, parish updates, and much more.
  • Sign up for a free account at formed.org to access Catholic videos, audio talks, ebooks, and more.
  • Visit the Lighthouse Kiosk in the narthex for CDs, books, and booklets.
  • Watch Sunday Mass celebrated at 10 a.m. the Cathedral of St. Andrew on the website, on the Facebook page, or on television on FOX 17. The Mass, plus plenty of other Catholic programming, is also available to watch on EWTN.
  • Watch daily Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert Barron.
  • Use spiritual resources from our diocese and read our bishop’s letter.
  • Use spiritual resources from the USCCB, including more options for watching Masses and Adoration.
  • Make a spiritual communion.
  • Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary more often than you usually do. If you want to pray along with someone else, you can use recordings on formed.org or watch the Rosary on EWTN.
  • Read and reflect on the daily Scriptures. Free resources you can use include Magnificat and The Word Among Us.
  • Pray one or two of the liturgical hours each day. If you don’t want to buy a breviary, download an app like iBreviary or Universalis.

Fasting: Ways to Deny Yourself

A “quarantine” is literally a period of forty days, usually a period of isolation designed to prevent the spread of disease. It’s striking that the current call to self-quarantine is happening during the forty-day season of Lent. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to isolate ourselves from the contagions of the world, the flesh, and the devil through fasting and self-denial.

  • Renew your commitment to the obligatory Lenten practices of the Church: abstaining from eating meat on Fridays, fasting and abstaining from meat on Good Friday, and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (at least once a year).
  • Fast each Friday and/or other days. One traditional option is to extend the Good Friday fast until the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday.
  • Give up everyday luxuries you enjoy, such as hot showers, desserts, sweets, sweetened drinks, alcohol, snacking, and/or a favorite food.
  • Give up or limit your access to the internet, social media, your smartphone or other devices, TV, movies, videos, and/or video games. Spend your extra time in prayer, spiritual reading, quality time with your family, and service to others.
  • Make time for prayerful silence by giving up music and other audio.
  • Lenten veiling is a sort of fasting from the use of holy images during the final two weeks of Lent, a time when we especially focus on the Lord’s Passion. Cover or hide crucifixes and other devotional images to remind yourself of our separation from heaven, which is remedied by Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.

Almsgiving: How to Help

Many people are suffering during this pandemic, and not only those who are sick. Virus-related disruptions will cause hardships for our neighbors. Prayerfully consider what you can do to serve Christ in the poor and vulnerable.

  • Check in with your neighbors, fellow parishioners you know, friends, family members, and others who may need assistance, especially those who are most vulnerable during this time (e.g. the homebound and the elderly). Share prayers, words of encouragement, and any concrete aid that you can. This could include shopping, picking up prescriptions, providing meals, helping with childcare, or financial assistance. If you can’t help them yourself, direct them to these resources or others in our community.
  • Our parish and school will continue to have financial needs during the pandemic. In fact, we may have to rely on parishioners’ generosity even more in order to provide aid to those seeking assistance. If you will not be able to give in person, please give online. Thank you!
  • If you have an idea about how parishioners can help each other during this time of disruption, or if you want to serve, please take the initiative! Contact Cory Lakatos at the parish office to discuss how the parish can facilitate your efforts (clakatos@oll.org, 616-399-1062).
  • Donate to the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) so our diocesan ministries can continue to serve needy families and individuals.
  • Give toward Catholic Relief Services’ anti-coronavirus efforts, and/or give to the CRS Rice Bowl to help feed the hungry.
  • Help with your local public school’s food distribution program (West Ottawa, Holland Public, or Zeeland Public). St. Francis de Sales Parish is a distribution center for Holland Public Schools, and you can sign up to volunteer by clicking here.
  • Volunteer with or donate to Kids’ Food Basket. To view their wish list, click here, or click here to donate online.
  • Volunteer with or donate to Meals on Wheels, which will continue to provide meals during this situation.
  • Donate food items to the St. Vincent de Paul Center by bringing them to the St. Francis de Sales parking lot between 9 and 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Donate financially to the Holland Rescue Mission, volunteer to care for children, or give tangible goods that the shelter needs: Vitamin C in any form, Pedialyte, boxes of Kleenex, digital quick-read thermometers (skin touch or ear), masks, hand sanitizer and wipes, and nonperishable pantry items.
  • Volunteer with or donate to the Ottawa County COVID-19 Response.
  • During this time of fear and anxiety, share the peace and hope you have in Christ with your family, friends, and other people you know.