Every cough reminds us, the world has changed.  We watch the numbers. We watch the news. We wash down our groceries, our hands, and we move to make sure we are not close.  This new unreal reality remains a constant reminder to each of us, we are not safe however much we might wish otherwise. 

The degree of separation between each of us, and knowing someone who has COVID-19 keeps getting smaller each day as the infections continue to increase.   As someone wrote the other day, when the restrictions are eased, it doesn’t mean the threat of infection is past us, it merely means, there’s room for us at the hospital.  

So how do we press forward with ordinary things like school and work, relationships and play and prayer and community, when the very continuation of community is prevented by the lack of proximity? 

We must remember that community is more than physical closeness, it’s empathy, it’s commitment to each other, it’s a form of charity.  Community in the time of the coronavirus is no longer organic but deliberate in nature, just as our encounters with God, our lives of prayer must now be.

We used to be able to be casual with God, because we always saw Him on Sunday, or in our morning prayers if we attended Catholic school, and we used to be able to be casual in our giving, because it always came from our excess.  

 Now, when the whole world faces the hour of the wolf, when it would be smarter, shrewder, to hold onto everything and isolate ourselves from everyone but our own, is when charity must be a lived reality.  We all have given from our excess in the days of feasting, for taking something from the pantry meant usually very little other than pick up more next time you’re in the store.  Now, when the stores are not stocked, and we have the perpetual specter of the unknown about finances, health, items in the store, giving comes from some place more immediate.  

 We’ve not loved our neighbors as generously or lavishly when we could, but now, we’re being called to love them as we should have, to the point of cost.  Love is sacrificial, each time, all times, every time.  Love thinks of the other first, all others first, it pours out. We now know, if we are people who hope, or people who trusted in our own comfort and prosperity. 

The good news is, we can always hope more, love more, and ask God to pick us back up when we stumble, when we fail to live the life of faith God calls us to, and begin again.  So how do we begin again, to be more the people God calls us to be?  How do we pour out, when we’re stuck wherever we are?  What must we do to be truly an Easter people?   

1)      Read the Acts of the Apostles. It’s Easter, so it’s a perfect time to allow yourselves to really steep in the Scripture.  As we all know, through Scripture, God always speaks to us, it’s whether we are listening.  

2)      Pray and ask God to send forth His Spirit, to touch our ears so we hear Him, to touch our eyes so we see Him, and to touch our tongues so we praise Him, and our hands so we serve Him.  

3)      Spend the day looking, listening, for the opportunities to serve Christ in His distressing disguise that He has placed in your midst for your salvation.  We all need to see the Lazarus at our gate, and invite him into our hearts, as is, by our acts, by our prayers, by our words, by our lives.   

Discernment in this instance isn’t a one time thing, it’s an ongoing thing, a perpetual always and forever exploration of God’s call within our lives to a deeper life of faith, love and sacrifice.  

Think of every saint that is, they never stopped loving God, serving God, praising God, and not even death stopped them.  We need to stop thinking of living our faith as a sometimes or Sunday thing, or an organic thing, because the saints recognized being a person of faith, a disciple of Jesus, it is like being a mother or father, it is like being a husband or wife, it is like being a priest, it is an always thing, and while our responsibilities and roles within that discipleship may grow and change over time, there is no point at which our life as a disciple ceases to be necessary.   We begin now, to live as we will after we die, serving today, as we hope to one day in Heaven.   

(Sherry Antonetti writes a regular column for the Catholic Standard. She is the author of The Book of Helen, a freelancer and a blogger @Chocolate For Your Brain!)