The items in this plan of action are always necessary but have become an urgent need during our current time of crisis. The crises resulting from Covid-19 are grave. These have included the sickness and death caused by the virus itself, overreach by healthcare officials in not allowing visitation of seriously ill and dying loved ones, a failure at treatment and removal of patient rights, especially autonomy, government overreach, including mandating vaccines with the penalty of losing one’s job and, if some have their way, losing the right to live as a full member of society. We should fight these political and social battles of our day, each with the gifts we have been given, but we also need to realize we are fighting more than just temporal battles. This is a spiritual battle, a battle of far greater importance (Cf. Ephesians 6:12). A key element of the battle is one’s own soul, so it is essential to be striving for a deeper life with Jesus, the Crucified One, during the most trying times. In fact, it is precisely during our most profound trials and sufferings that Jesus is closest to us and calls us to a deeper life in Him. Suffering is part of the human condition and not even God exempted Himself from the suffering of our humanity, as we see clearly when we behold a crucifix. But God overcomes evil with good and uses our sufferings in a mysterious way to bless us. When we strive to remain faithful during trials our perseverance and wisdom increase (James 1:2-5). We each need a rule of life to ensure that Christ is the center of our lives and that we are doing His holy will.
What follows are three suggestions. There are obviously many excellent prayers and devotions, including the reading the Bible and, for Catholics, attending Mass, that are all recommended. The following is meant to provide a necessary foundation. The prophet Nehemiah tells us not to be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
- Therefore, the first step in the spiritual life is to seek a deeper connection with the source of our joy and hope. Sit quietly or walk in a peaceful place, preferably in front of the Blessed Sacrament or the sanctuary of your own faith community, and reflect upon God, the source of all life, all beauty, all goodness, all truth, the One who is the source of our entire being. Without Him, nothing exists. God loves you. God loves you so much He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you. He loves you so immensely that He continually forgives you. He loves you so much that he promises eternal life if you remain in Him. Jesus promises: “My sheep hear my voice” (St. John 10:27). So listen to the Lord in your heart and speak to Him from your Heart. He loves you immensely!
- Contemplate the shortness of life. For example, some people have found it helpful to go to a cemetery. Look at the graves. Read them and wonder about their lives. One lived for 55 years, another for 80. One lived for 19 years and another for 40. Each had a life, like you. Each had a story, a family, sufferings, hopes, joys, dreams, and anguish. Now they’re dead. Everyone of them met God. Pray for them. You, too, will be lowered into the ground with an end date on your headstone, but not an end date on your life because your soul is eternal. St. Teresa of Avila said, “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in a bad hotel.”
- Surrender yourself to God. Jesus says we must deny ourselves to be His disciples and must lose our lives to gain them (Luke 9:23-24). The life of Servant of God Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo is instructive here. He suffered greatly. He was an accused priest (twice), suspended for years, interrogated for many long, painful hours by the Holy Office of the Church, and eventually expelled from his religious community. He was ultimately exonerated. Fr. Dolindo’s faith, hope, and love increased during this time and his most famous prayer was born: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.” In a like manner, all the saints surrendered themselves to the Lord in great confidence.
- Therefore, be not afraid. Scripture tells us some version of “be not afraid” 365 times and St. John Paul the Great made “be not afraid” his motto. Truly, we must live for love of God and reject the slavery of fear, anxiety, and useless worry.
Signed by the Members of the Health Care Civil Rights Task Force:
Michael Vacca, Esq., Christ Medicus Foundation
Joseph Meaney Ph.D., National Catholic Bioethics Center
Alexandra Snyder, Esq., Life Legal Defense Foundation
Julie Grimstad, Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization
Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network
Father James Bromwich
Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, RN, MBA, MTS