Make Hope Contagious!
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we heard a lot about how viruses can spread exponentially. But illness is not the only bad effect we are experiencing. The steady drumbeat on the news about rising case counts, overflowing ICUs and people dying alone have prompted many to live with higher levels of fear, anxiety and depression. Some have lost loved ones and friends to the virus. Others have lost contact with family for fear of getting sick.
But that’s not all. The government response to the pandemic has also spawned fear, frustration and despair. The rolling lockdowns have destroyed livelihoods and small businesses, making many worry about their financial survival. Those needing elective surgery and diagnostic tests have been put on indefinite hold, jeopardizing their health. The vaccine roll-out has been erratic and health authorities make no promises vaccines will mean life goes back to normal.
Others fear the vaccines may have life-threatening side effects or disabling long-term health impacts. They worry about loved ones who have received it. They fear a push by big business and governments to make the vaccine mandatory. They fear losing their job if they decline a vaccination. They wonder if digital vaccine passports required for travel, shopping, attending events—even church—might be coming.
They fear the disappearance of our fundamental freedoms of expression, of association and of religion even at the same time acknowledging the danger of the virus.
Responses to the pandemic and to the lockdowns are prompting division. Neighbors are reporting neighbors to the authorities for breaking health restrictions. Families and churches can fall into adversarial camps.
How can we reverse all this negativity and hopelessness? How can we make hope contagious?
I’m not talking about false optimism, I’m talking about true hope, hope anchored in faith in Christ, in the Truth.
How can we find this hope, be filled with it, and become super-spreaders?
“...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
It starts with repentance. Turning to God with a humble and contrite heart.
We need to repent of fears, frustrations and anxieties that cloud our judgment and harm our relationship with Him and with others even if our emotions are natural responses to the pandemic and the lockdowns. We need to invite the Holy Spirit to impart to us the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity---the love that casts out fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1John 4:18
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
I believe God wants to fill us, to give us life abundantly. He wants us to experience the fruit of the Spirit, no matter what our circumstances are. He wants us to look up and trust Him.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
But once we are filled, then what?
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
How about we make an effort to meet with two people to spread this message? What if once we are together, we invite God to free us of slavery to fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and frustration? What if we encourage the people we meet with to arrange to meet with another two people? If everyone who hears this does so, hope would spread exponentially.
This message is not about whether you decide to get vaccinated or not, or whether you wear a mask or not, or if you agree with lockdowns or not. It’s about seeking the Kingdom of God first. It’s about fearing God first and not death or sickness or what man can do to us. It’s not about abandoning prudence. It’s a message of unity not division---of seeking the unity that only the Holy Spirit can bring.
Let’s “give God permission” as the late Fr. Robert Bedard, the founder of the Companions of the Cross would say.
Let’s Make Hope Contagious! Let’s make Faith, Hope and Love contagious. Are you ready?
I believe that safely meeting in person will be powerful.
However, praying the following prayer alone will also help a great deal. You may use the phone or a video social media platform to pray it with other people to make hope contagious.
When you meet, as you begin to pray together, you may invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the various emotional and spiritual states of fear, anxiety, worry, resentment, division, frustration and fretting you may be experiencing. Often we don’t realize even something as seemingly minor as fretting over something can cloud our relationship with God.
Once you have discerned with God’s help where you need to repent, you may take turns praying the following prayer, confessing and renouncing each state of mind you have identified. You may take turns and do it out loud, or pray the prayer together silently.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” James 5:16
You may repeat the prayer for each one or lump them all together. God will hear the prayer of your heart. If you are comfortable confessing and renouncing out loud in the company of your friends, that’s great. But if not, God hears your silent prayers. Jesus is in your midst whenever two or three are gathered together.
ALMIGHTY AND MOST MERCIFUL FATHER, I confess that I have been [fearful of, anxious about, resentful of, angry about, worried about, frustrated with]
[fear of getting sick, fear of dying, fear of losing my job if I don't get vaccinated, anxiety about not being able to travel, fear of the authorities such as getting a ticket if I break the rules, fear of making a loved one sick, anger at the lockdowns, outrage at politicians, ---whatever emotion or state of mind that is not clearly a fruit of the Spirit]
I renounce _______________________________
[Renounce each one of the above you have confessed}
HEAVENLY FATHER, I ask for your forgiveness in JESUS CHRIST, and I ask for the blessing of the HOLY SPIRIT so that I can abide in Christ and experience the fruits of the Spirit.
Please grant me wisdom, clarity and courage to trust you, Lord, and to obey your still small voice. I ask for an infilling of the HOLY SPIRIT and for spiritual gifts to spread the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ with boldness and confidence and the power to resist anything that is not of YOU.
St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, patron of Canada, pray for us!