Spirituality in a lockdown

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Family Matters by Helen Luxford

So how has everyone been keeping up their faith during the lockdown? It should be easier – we have more time on our hands, right? But people’s experiences are varying considerably.

Some people are stuck safe at home all by themselves with lots of time, but with extreme loneliness. Others are juggling kids, work, worries about money and childcare, as well as the global issues of the virus and the global economy. So it can be hard to navigate the new world of faith engagement on top of all this.

We have been trying different Masses to watch online and to see different parts of our Church in action. Our kids quite enjoyed watching an American Mass, for example, hearing different accents, but seeing the universality of the Church, because, after all, it is the same Mass anywhere in the world. We chose a shorter one – which turned out to be a good decision – because the kids found half an hour of just watching quite challenging. It was very strange to come to the Eucharist and not be able to partake physically. For Easter, we really enjoyed Pa Peter Tipene celebrating the St Patrick’s Cathedral Masses. I couldn’t help but reflect on how very odd it must have been for priests to celebrate Mass with no congregation present.

In terms of prayer, I have been trying to get some Zoom rosary sessions going! I can pray the rosary any time by myself at home, but it feels so much nicer to pray with others, to be reminded we are not alone. Jesus, of course, says where two or more of you are gathered in his name then he is there. We managed to get a family rosary going with some friends and it was lovely for my oldest boy to be able to pray with boys his age.

There is a lot of debate raging in New Zealand about the severity of our lockdown and the length of it and the effect on the economy. From a doctor’s perspective, I have supported the level 4 lockdown after being bombarded with horrific stories of overwhelmed health care systems overseas. There is no doubt there is a terrible negative side to a lockdown – the economic impact (although I think nothing can truly protect us from that in New Zealand as we are too strongly linked with, and dependent on, the global economy), the increase in domestic violence, loneliness and isolation and worsening mental health, with self-harm and suicides likely to increase.

I struggle with the concept that we, as a nation, have so firmly embraced the concept of protecting our elderly and vulnerable yet, on the issue of euthanasia, we seem to have little regard for the elderly and vulnerable. This feels inconsistent to me, it seems incongruous. I think the sentiments and solidarity that we have shown as a country to protect our elderly are admirable and humane and compassionate. We have seen with the deaths from Covid-19 within New Zealand that the elderly will be the most affected when they get the virus. So, where is this compassion when it comes to the issue of euthanasia? It is my fear that our vulnerable and elderly will be most at risk from the law change, should it be approved in the referendum later this year.

I have a number of books – that have gathered dust over the years – that are about having spiritual retreats at home. I used to use them a lot before the children came. Looking at them, they would be a wonderful way to help revitalise faith at this time, to provide some structure. The most important activity we can do at the moment is pray, pray, pray. We all have our different fears and we will all cope differently with this situation. The unknown and the uncertainty in such situations is usually what really eats away at people. There is so much in life we can’t control, and this situation in which we find ourselves really highlights that fact! Find ways to keep your faith alive in your bubble to help get you through.

Deuteronomy 31:8; “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

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