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True stories: The pandemic brought a huge faith boost for many

PRAYING

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Tom Hoopes - published on 03/22/21

God always finds his ways to make a "silver lining."

The pandemic changed my life for the better. Did it do the same for you?

St. Augustine said God “would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself,” and from the suffering, death, isolation, and unemployment the pandemic brought, it seems he has outdone himself.

Pew Research reported in January that in America “Nearly 3 in 10 U.S. adults say the outbreak has boosted their faith,” and “about 4 in 10 say it has tightened family bonds.”

This certainly happened to me. I felt gripped by God’s love and compelled to do more with my time and go deeper in my faith after both my own coronavirus infection and witnessing the incredible power of prayer at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

A Montgomery Village, Maryland, mother of six had the same experience of grace I did.

Therese Rodriguez told me how, on April 19, 2020, the feast of Divine Mercy Sunday, she knelt for adoration at the glass door entrance of her parish church. 

“I felt a magnetic attraction to just the beauty of God,” she said. She found words to describe what I also felt in prayer during the pandemic: “My heart was captured,” only “with freedom” in a “profound quietness.”

“I felt that all was right with the world even as I knew my world needed adjustments or acceptance of various personal problems,” she said. “I could almost hear the Lord with profound clarity speak heart to heart,” she said, in what she called “heart surgery of the devotion kind.”

In my case this led to a rediscovery of Scripture, through Bishop Robert Barron and Father Mike Schmitz. One mom told me the same thing happened to her.

Bishop Robert Barron has played a huge role for me too,” said Alexa Paul, in the Washington, D.C., area. She also “read a chapter of St. Paul’s letters every day with one of my sisters and we reflected on it together” through video chat.

You know this is from the Holy Spirit because a huge number of people rediscovered Scripture during the pandemic.

“Right now I’m doing Fr. Mike’s Bible in a Year podcast as well,” she said. “All these Old Testament readings are kind of killing me, but I’ve never read the entire Bible. There’s also a different experience to hearing it every day rather than just reading it.”

College students rediscovered the faith in the pandemic also.

Benedictine College freshman Benjamin Pio told me he and his friends discovered a whole world of video content in lockdown.

“I discovered Gospel Symplicity, a Protestant YouTuber exploring different faiths, and I enjoyed watching him explore Catholicism, and learned a lot from his process,” he said. “I also discovered rich theological discussion on YouTube with Matt Fradd’s channel Pints with Aquinas. I started to watch 60 Seconds on the Kansas Monks YouTube page. They are short but inspiring.”

He listed other YouTubers he discovered during the pandemic: Breaking in the Habit with Franciscan Father Casey Cole, whom he called “the Father Mike for religious,” Ascension Presents, Word on Fire, Catholic Answers, Father Mark Goring, The Catholic Talk Show, The Catholic Gentleman, and Catholic Minute.

But it wasn’t just the big names that got a boost during the pandemic. One mom told me how she shared local priests’ great homilies.

Carolyn Smith of Mason, New Hampshire, a mother of nine, became a social media evangelist during the pandemic.

Many priests, friends of friends, sought ways to acquire subscribers so that their Masses could be broadcast,” she said. “Because of this I would post their links and ask friends to consider subscribing. 

“I was exposed to many wonderful homilists whom I never would have had the chance to hear otherwise. Many people then benefited from what under normal circumstances would be a small regional priest with a localized flock.” 

Though nothing can replace the sacramental presence of the Lord, she said, the homilies were “grounding.”

Christianity was boosted in a major way by the first pandemic it faced. It seems that God is hard at work in this one, too.

Tags:
CoronavirusScriptureSpiritual Life
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