I go to bed every night with anxiety. I make the Sign of the Cross, followed by a big sigh, not caring that the sound will wake Mike. We need each other’s encouragement. He talks, and just hearing his voice gives me comfort. Last night I asked him, “If I got the virus, do you think I would survive?” He gently answers exactly what I wanted to hear. These morbid conversations are real, and we are all thinking and wondering the “what-ifs.” But I also see the big picture and know that God is in control. Yes, the human side of me questions why, but I know full well the God that I serve. Throughout the night when I pray, the Lord shows me the faces of family and friends and I bombard the heavens on their behalf. It’s a time of great travailing, and I do it until my mind finally gives in to much-needed rest. Whether we like it or not, we are all living a cloistered life; I choose to use this time to pray.
The Up Side of the Virus
In the twenty years as head of a ministry to the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles, I, along with others, have prayed for the displaced to find shelter. Praise be to God, many of homeless are being sheltered in California. It took this virus to finally send immediate help to them. We are grateful to God for this quick action from our government. You see, we always had the answer to this dilemma, but God had to make the move for us.
All of the children are home safe. Who will dare take a gun to them in empty school buildings? No more gun shootings in schools! The children are not subjected to the controversial sex education that the state is trying to indoctrinate with them either. We thank God for this as well. He is moving in our midst, and though we cannot see Him, He is present.
Years ago I purchased “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” the Diary of St. Faustina. I have read some passages of the 700-page diary over and over again, receiving new revelations each time. No, this is not the Bible, but they are Jesus’ words spoken to St. Faustina. (Diary, 1487)
Jesus: “Tell me all, My child, hide nothing from Me, because My loving Heart, the Heart of your Best Friend, is listening to you.”
These word spoken to St. Faustina are also spoken to us, and at this time we need all the reassurance we can get. Jesus is with us every step of the way! (Diary, 1486)
Jesus: My child, do not be discouraged. I know your boundless trust in Me: I know you are aware of My Goodness and mercy. Let us talk in detail about everything that weighs so heavily upon your heart. (Diary 1487)
Jesus: Talk to Me simply, as a friend to a friend. Tell Me now, My child, what hinders you from advancing in holiness?
I cherish these words because I know without a doubt that I can go to our Lord and speak to Him as I would a friend. Jesus is the Friend we all long for. He is the voice to the fatherless Who embraces us with mercy. He is the voice of a Friend who will never depart from us. I understand this with all the depth of my soul because I want to feel this closeness to our Lord. I want others to understand the peace that comes with this. Even through this unknown virus, no one person can give us the right answers; but God can reassure us of His Divine Mercy, and that is all we can cling too.
My Connection with St. Faustina
On April 20, 2000, I was in Rome. We traveled to the Holy Land for twelve days, and from there we visited Turin. Mike was waiting for us in Turin. This was the year that the Holy Shroud was venerated and an exact replica was exposed at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. To this day the original Shroud is in the basement of this church. From there via bus we made our way throughout Northern Italy, one the most picturesque parts of this country. Our tour bus meandered through what seemed to be hundreds of tunnels, with the majestic Mediterranean as our guide. When we arrived in Rome, we had tickets for the audience with Pope John Paul II. No one in our group was aware of the Canonization of St. Faustina on the day of the visit. In all honesty, I had never heard of her. I remembered a picture of St. Faustina being rolled down from one of the massive windows of St. Peter’s, and being part of a loud, cheering crowd when her sainthood was announced. It would take me another five years to visit Poland and to fully understand the impact that she has had on millions of lives, mine included. This trip would prove to be one of the most eventful for Mike and me because at the same time we renewed our wedding vows at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
St. Faustina was seven years old when Jesus first called her. At the age of fifteen she had joined the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw. To the world she was an uneducated, normal individual, but to God she was singled out to be Apostle of Divine Mercy. Jesus asked St. Faustina to make an image as He appeared in her vision. St. Faustina commissioned an artist to draw a picture of Jesus the Divine Mercy. On the bottom of the painting are the words “Jezu Ufam Tobie,” which translates “Jesus I trust in You.” (Diary 299) Jesus: The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale rays stand for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red rays stand for the Blood which is the life of souls…These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall to not lay hold of him. I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy.
Why we pray at 3 o’clock
We pray at 3 o’clock because our Lord died on the Cross at this hour; this is the hour Divine Mercy. At that hour the earth shook, and the sky gave way to darkness for three hours! We must remember what He sacrificed for us! We must keep must in mind his suffering on Cross so that we never forget what He went through for us! Yes, the crucified Christ wants this image to remain in our hearts so when we gaze upon the Crucifix we will feel the love He has for us, so we get convicted if we are not serving Him the way we should. You will never experience the fullness of His love until you understand this mystery.
Matthew 27:45-46New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
The Death of Jesus.45 From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:51New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
51 And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.The earth quaked, rocks were split,
(Diary 1572) Jesus: I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in my mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy will open wide for every soul. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice.
May His Divine Mercy be with you. If you have asked me to pray for you, please know that my obedience is to the Lord. I will continue to intercede on your behalf until the Lord releases me from my prayer obligation.
Joshua 1:9New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
9 I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.
With a rosary wrapped around her hand she always steps into the Adoration Chapel before Mass. I just know her as Joy. We always greet each other with broad smiles, never making small talk because we have church business to attend to. Joy and her husband are part of a community of daily Mass attendees. Ann-Marie sits three rows ahead of me, and Robert always sits directly in front of me. Virginia usually sits in the same row as me; Mike, a tall Eucharistic Minister, sits almost in the last pew. Mike, Maria, Vickie and I and a handful of others are part of the 6:15 a.m. Eucharistic team. I miss Father John and Father Charles’ homilies, and Glen, who faithfully assists them during weekday Masses.
When I was sick with a cough earlier this year I did not give out communion. I tried to count how many of us attended daily Mass; I lost count at 70. All religious institutions are on a forced sabbatical; no Mass until God knows when. My heart aches because we are unable to receive communion, and I realize we are all suffering the same fate.
Mike and I have taken the Stay-at-home advice from our governor seriously. We have not left our home in over a week. Last Monday, on March 16, before the announcement of the church closing, I went one last time to Adoration as I was scheduled from four to five that evening. Our son has been warning us for days not to go out at all. Our daughter Sonja has nicknamed him “Chicken Little” because his advice is the same for her as it is for us, Mikos is lovingly looking out for our well-being. As I was leaving I told Mike, “Please don’t tell the kids that I’m going to church!” Mike answered, “Ok, but can you swing by the El Pollo Loco drive-through to pick up some chicken?” I was feeling a bit guilty, but I went anyway. The doors to the church were swung open. The natural light clearly showed the reflection of fingerprints on the wooden pews, so before I sat down I took Clorox disinfecting wipes and cleaned the pew in front of me and the one behind me. Before settling down to pray, I looked around to see who else was at Adoration. I counted seven persons; we were all spread apart. I prayed my usual prayers, but this time the burden of the world was on all of our shoulders. My prayers were fervent, and I felt the true comfort of the Lord the entire time I was there.
El Pollo Loco
I left the church refreshed and spirit-filled. Then it happened, my phone rang. I could see that it was our daughter Sonja. I touched the screen to answer the call. Her first question was,”Why are you in the car?” Sonja has a tracker on my phone because I spend so much time with her kids. I could feel the blood rush to my face; my throat dried up when I nervously answered, “I went to Adoration! Please don’t tell your brother!” “Mom, just go home,” she replied. I didn’t dare tell her I was on my way to El Pollo Loco. Then all of a sudden, while I was waiting in the drive-through, I felt my body temperature rising. My forehead felt warmer than usual. Then I started to cough, not just any cough, but a dry cough. I told myself, “I just need to hydrate .” I took some water and started to chug it, but the water got all over my blouse. “Oh my God! Did I get this virus?” By the time I finally reached the window, I had written myself off as a goner.
When I got home, I quietly placed the bag of chicken on the counter. Another cough! I sanitized my hands and grabbed my phone. I remembered seeing a post about the early warning signs of the coronavirus and what we needed to do: gargle with vinegar, warm water and salt. As soon as Mike went to bed I did just that. My self-talk was a rambling dialogue of panic! “Should I sleep with Mike? If I do, we will both be doomed! Should I tell him?” I fell asleep praying. This is a perfect example on how panic sets in, and how our mind runs away with imagination, taking it to new levels of anxiety. Since then I have not gone out.
The hardest part of this Stay-At-Home order is not seeing our grandchildren. On March 19th, we celebrated the 8th birthday of our youngest grandson Jacob. Mike and I had already purchased a gift for him, and Sonja was going to drop off some Chick-fil-A and pick up the gift. The boys wanted to see us. From a good distance we greeted them. Then I lost it and started crying; I cried a good cry. Later I pulled myself together through prayer.
The Holy Spirit gave me a great idea on how to stay connected with all four of my grandkids. For the past week we have been FaceTime praying. I miss their humor because all of my grandchildren are funny. It makes a big difference in our lives to get together like this. The boys impose funny faces over their heads, some not so appropriate. Right before Maddie joins the conversation, her brother accuses her of being unholy. The four of them have been so gracious in praying at 3 o’clock. After this delightful phone call, I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Dear Lord, we are all anxious and pray for this to pass. Just as You did for the Israelites, pass over our household, and keep us safe from this virus. Lord, nothing is impossible for You. We trust in You and know that You will see us through this. We pray for all doctors and nurses and every hospital’s employees. We pray for every person who is tirelessly working in the grocery stores, and for food manufacturers and delivery personnel. We pray for the scientists who are working to find a cure for this virus. We pray for people like my sister Norma, who works in an assisted living facility, and for her daughter Maggie, who is a social worker for the elderly. And for all others, our son Mikos included, who must work to keep this nation afloat. Keep them healthy, Father, and give them special protection and graces to continue to do their jobs. I pray for all those who have been temporarily laid off or who have lost their jobs. Lord, provide for the needs of Your people! Amen.
Philippians 4:6New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
6 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.