Lent in the time of pandemic
By Chris Quilpa
There’s always time for everything. There’s time to feel fearful and sad, and hopeless. There’s time to be happy and hopeful. There is time to be sorry, to do good, to repent and to believe, and have faith.
Life has many seasons, celebrations and observances. In the Christian communities around the world, it’s again Lenten season — a time to commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who, to all believers and followers, is Lord and Savior, Messiah and Redeemer, the Beloved Son of the Almighty God the Father, Creator of the universe.
With hope, courage and determination, it’s not too late to observe Lent.
Observing the nation’s health and safety protection agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol and restrictions on social assembly/distancing, more Christians and Catholics have opted to attend Sunday Masses and worship services online, courtesy of churches. As a result, church attendance dramatically decreased as online church worship services eventually flourished. Thus, they became popular with live streaming, and social media platforms, such as Zoom, now being used in virtual teaching/learning in schools, colleges and universities. (Theater and arts also use Zoom to entertain viewers.)
However, during the 40-day religious observance of Lent, which culminates on Easter Sunday, Christians continue to observe the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The faithful believers worldwide have been encouraged by the clergy and church leaders to pray incessantly, not only for themselves but also for conversion and renewal of the hearts of others. As followers or disciples of Christ, who prayed in the desert for 40 days and nights combating or resisting temptations and other worldly desires, they were inspired to do some sacrifice, giving up something or depriving themselves of something, to deepen their spiritual life, and strengthen their faith.
Pope Francis said, “Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and every believer.”
Through prayer, with God’s help, he encouraged the faithful to confront evil in order to be able to overcome it at work, in our daily life and around us, where there is violence, rejection of the other, war and injustice. “We need to reject all that takes us off course. We must entrust ourselves to the Lord, to his goodness and to his project of love for each of us,” he said.
In his message for Lent 2021, he wrote: “Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence, it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need.”
“Smile, say kind words during Lent,” he added.
Personally, I pray for an end to this pandemic and for our world to heal and recover, and our life to be back to normalcy.
May your Lent be a time of spiritual growth and renewal, and conversion of mind, body and spirit! May your Easter be filled with hope and the goodness of God’s love! May God bless you and your family always!
Take care and stay safe and healthy, as always!
Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk and Portsmouth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.