Lockdowns in many countries were imposed, including here in Australia, for fear of spreading the deadly novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19. This pandemic is at height in the middle of our observance of Lent, especially among us Catholics.
Lent is Kuwaresma in Tagalog (a derivative of the Latin word quadragesima, meaning “forty days,” which denotes the 40-day period of the season of Lent.
On the other hand, lockdown, shutdown also means quarantine. Surprisingly, quarantine shares its Latin root with quadragesima; quarantena, which also means “forty-day period”.
Kuwaresma and Quarantena, are both periods of purification and introspection. They both invite us for self-isolation, and at the same time, to connect with God, our Creator.
These are chances to purge ourselves not only from viruses that threaten our bodily health, above all, from all the viruses of selfishness, greed, materialism, indifference and from all that alienates us from God.
In our present context, social distancing is also recommended. It is an invitation for us to more deeply join Jesus who socially distanced himself in the desert. Social distancing itself does not mean hating or disliking the company of fellow humans. It is a practical way of showing charity and prudence.
For many of us, we are not used to practicing social distancing and living in self-isolation. I propose the style of Jesus while spending his time in the desert (cf. Luke 4:1). Jesus withdrew himself in order to be intimate with his Father. In the same way, let us afford ourselves an opportunity to spend more time for prayer and silence, to cultivate our relationship with God, our Father.
Bear in mind, kuwaresma is the best time to master interior penance. Interior penance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.
Our self-quarantined kuwaresma is a graced moment to effect conversion of heart. The goal of which is far more than ceasing destructive or sinful behaviours; it is more of surrendering to God. In that surrender, we receive the grace to abandon a life of selfishness and embrace a life of selflessness. In these turbulent times, we are challenged to abandon our security in favour of trustful vulnerability.
We are invited to enter into the ‘Paschal Mystery rhythm’ of dying and rising in Christ. We may converse with ourselves, what needs ‘to die’ and what needs ‘to rise’. Jesus Christ who changes our darkness to light will surely convert our sorrow to joy, our suffering to glory; and our death to life.
Our quarantined kuwaresma will lead us to Easter glory! From our isolation, let us be filled with faith and hope. We believe. We Pray. God is in charge anyway.
Fr. Ignacio Larrañaga, a Capuchin Friar and Founder of the Prayer and Life Workshop (PLW), reminds us: “We are living a time of purification. Faith is flowing river. The impurities are lodged in the riverbed, but the current keeps moving.” (Sensing Your Hidden Presence).
Full of faith and hope, I impart my Easter Blessings to all fellow Katolikong Pinoys sa Melbourne. Mabuhay po kayo! Maligayang Pasko ng Muling Pagkabuhay! Happy Easter to all!
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