Patron for the Pandemic

About six years ago I was sitting on the beach with my friend Monica when I had a startling idea. “Why is there no 24-hour adoration chapel in Manhattan?” Surely a city which hosts eight million people on any given day could, should, muster enough adorers for an adoration chapel! And sitting there with my hair full of salt water and sand in my toes, I began to make plans to make that happen.

By coincidence other young adults had the same idea, and I joined their efforts and we began to plan. I worked feverishly to research options and funding ideas and to extend inquiries to various churches. As my ideas took form I grew more and more excited. This was really going to happen! Until one day I noticed that something felt off.

I felt energized, but not completely at peace. Little things that shouldn’t have bothered me instead brought out the worst in me—I found myself easily angered, impatient, driven. I felt passionate but at the same time unsettled.

“Did God give you this task, or did you give it to yourself?” my spiritual director asked.

I was stunned. What kind of a question was that? Surely, God would want me to build an adoration chapel! How could such a thing NOT be God-willed?

As I was mulling over this odd question, a friend (in whom I had not confided this story) let me know she had a word for me from God. It was from the 2nd Book of Samuel, which begins with God asking David (through Nathan): “Would you build Me a house to dwell in?” and continues ultimately with rather “The Lord will make you a house…”

Ouch.

This divine smack-down put an end to my planning, but was just the beginning of a new spirituality. I am still learning what it all means—to receive, to let God do all the heavy lifting, to let Him lead and instruct and ultimately be God.

To effect these plans, God sent me Saint Joseph, whose feast we celebrate today.

Of course, it is Joseph who would literally help complete the promise actually written in Scripture about the house of David. It is he who legally gave to Jesus his title as Son of David, fulfilling for all time the prophecies of a royal dynasty that would last forever.

Saint Joseph knew about planning. And he learned about letting go of his plans, for God’s sake.

He was not given a superhero cape. Rather, he was given, repeatedly, situations that were beyond his power to control.

Tasked with providing for the Blessed Virgin and her Unborn Child, he was forced by government edict to travel to Bethlehem during her third trimester of pregnancy, where, when her time came, he was unable to procure for her even a room and a bed. Instead, he kept vigil as the Queen of Heaven gave birth to the Maker of the Universe and laid Him, not in a carpenter’s cradle, but in a feeding trough for animals.

When it was time to present the Child in the temple, he could offer only the poor man’s sacrifice, a pair of turtledoves, and heard Simeon prophesy not only joy but sorrow for his wife and small son. Did his heart break a little, even then, wanting to protect them from the promised pain?

And then came another edict, this one from Higher Authority: “Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.” How it must have pained him, how his heart must have wrung with fear and anguish, to learn that Herod’s soldiers were seeking his tiny son. I wonder if, for a moment, he was tempted to stay and fight, to resist, to protect the child and his mother with his own strength. How strong he must have been to obey God, to put aside his pride and flee with his family to safety.

And then he found himself distanced from everyone he knew, alone in a foreign country, away from the temple and synagogues and the life he had known before. He found himself without work, without his carpenter shop or clients, starting all over again in Egypt. And then a few years later, he returned to Nazareth and began yet again.

We don’t know anything else about the hidden years with Jesus, apart from the time that he lost him, seeking him anxiously with Mary. After he was found, we know only that Jesus was obedient to him. Surely, that must have been a fearsome marvel in itself—to be the teacher of the Incarnate Wisdom.

In Scripture Joseph never said a word, but his life was a continued yes to all that God gave…and all that He did not.

It was not given to Joseph to share in Jesus’ public ministry, or in His passion. Instead, he was asked to sacrifice his desire to protect Mary and Jesus, to say yes to the goodness of God, entrusting them to the true Father above, of whom he was only an image.

If there were ever a patron for this pandemic, it is Saint Joseph.

As he was tasked with protecting and providing for the earthly Body of Christ, the boy Jesus, let us entrust to him the spiritual Body of Christ, the Church. Let him teach us, like Jesus, to always say yes. To always trust. To embrace humble and hidden tasks. To embrace wood, even the wood of the Cross.

And like Joseph, let us say yes to all that is given to us to do, and surrender to Jesus and Mary all that is not.

Prayers and Spiritual Resources During Coronavirus

Holy Week at Home Resources

(Virtual) Community Prayer

Virtual Masses

Video Resources

Podcasts

Individual Prayers

  • Act of Spiritual Communion
    We all miss not being able to receive Holy Communion, but we know we can make an act of Spiritual Communion by which we express our strong desire to receive Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The practice of praying Spiritual Communion has been embraced by many saints throughout history and has been practiced by many faithful around the world where freedom of religion has been banned:
    My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
  • Litany of Trust (written by Sister Faustina Maria Pia, SV)
  • Prayer of Surrender
    Given to me by one of the Sisters of Life:
    Loving Father, I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way. I say “Yes” to you today. I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come on in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back. Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. I surrender all to you: my health, my family, my resources, occupation, skills, relationships, time management, successes, and failures. I release it and let it go. I surrender my understanding of how things ought to be, my choice and my will. I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep. I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you. I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality. I especially surrender ________, ________, ________. (Continue here to surrender other areas as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you.) Lord, I surrender my entire life to you, the past, the present, and the future. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you.
    Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my intellect, and my will. You have given me all that I have and I return it all now to you. Dispose of me according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, for with this I am rich enough and have no more to ask. Amen.
  • Lockdown
    A poem by Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan in Ireland, reflecting on the coronavirus crisis with hope.
  • Meditations for the Sorrowful Mysteries for the Ending of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    I was able to attend vigil Mass at my parish this past Saturday evening, right before the diocese canceled all public Masses. They passed out these pamphlets with meditations for the Sorrowful Mysteries that are very appropriate for these times:

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Remember Your Mercies, O Lord

The chaos in which we find our world these past few weeks is difficult to ignore: almost every state in our country declaring a “state of emergency,” grocery stores unable to keep paper products in stock, and, perhaps the most frightening of all, the suspension of Masses and other church services until further notice. With all this “mass” hysteria taking over our lives, it is almost impossible not to give in to it and let it cripple our spirits. It is so easy to allow the loud voices of the media to dictate the way we think. As the situation continues, the natural instinct is to let selfish tendencies take over. How do we combat this drive to focus on our own needs above those of others when the sanctuary of our Church and of Sunday’s holy rest has been denied to us?

The Lord is so subtle in His helpful reminders. It could be seen as an actual blessing that this chaos is happening during Lent since it is in this penitential season that we are called to fast and deprive ourselves. In addition, as we fast we are called to replace that from which we are fasting with practices that bring us closer to Jesus Christ. In the Gospel today, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother and Jesus responds with the well-known answer: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants” (Matthew 18: 22-23). Perhaps this is the time to heed God’s call to truly put our neighbors before ourselves. In the crazed setting of the depleted grocery store, take your time and allow others to go ahead of you as you shop, trusting the Lord will provide you with what you need. The Lord already has mercy on us—we should remember His mercy, and return His mercy to others. We are in a time where what we need most cannot be found in the bare essentials supermarkets stock, but in the true essentials of God’s love and His mercy.

“And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”
—Daniel 34–43

During this period of great uncertainty and unknown, we must remain devoted to the word of God and not fall away from His teachings. Fear has a powerful way of distracting us, but we must place our faith in Jesus and His promises for us, that He will always be with us.

The Miracle of the 54-Day Novena

By Jacqueline Casquero

I haven’t shared this with many people, but I’m willing to share this as a testimony of the miracle that happened to my family about two to three years ago.

It was the year 2017. My sister, Cathy, shared with the family about her pregnancy. Our family was full of joy. Cathy became sick, uncomfortable, and at the same time nervous. She’d had a miscarriage about a year earlier. She was afraid that she would be having a miscarriage again. I did all I could to reassure her that it wouldn’t happen again. We would go to different Catholic meetings and Masses, receive the sacraments, listen to Christian songs, and meditate on Scripture.

Aside from this, at the end of 2017 both of my parents announced that they had tumors. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I felt completely sad and lonely. I didn’t share it with anybody, but I talked and prayed to Jesus and Mother Mary.

One day, a friend of mine told me about the 54-Day Rosary Novena and how it worked miracles. I desperately needed one. I looked up the history behind this special, long novena to see what it was about. I’d never heard of it before nor the story behind it.

I decided to pray and do it. There were days that I was sick or tired or emotional, as well as days that I skipped, but I persevered. I also had a prayer partner, my mother.

In the middle of 2018, Cathy gave birth to Amada (named after one of the Sisters of Life). My parents’ surgeries for the removal of their tumors was a success.

Today, my mother and I are doing the 54-day novena again during this time of Lent. We are praying for those that have been infected with coronavirus for their healing and a cure.

Click here to learn more about the 54-Day Rosary Novena.

A Letter from Jackie Ostick

Hi My Dear Frassati Community,

I am sitting here in my apartment, about to do my morning prayers and at a loss because I can’t go to Mass. How is this possible? It always seemed like Mass was always there. Daily Mass. Sunday Mass. Bible study. Fellowship. And now? Where do we go?

This week has made me reflect on my first two months here in NYC. I moved here in November of 2008 to be an actor. There I was, someone who had to make a living and still have time to audition, and then be able to leave so I could go do said show that I would hopefully book. My anxiety creeped up and I was so overwhelmed. Luckily, I lived in Astoria at the time and there was a Catholic church right down the street from me. I went to daily Mass every day and suddenly I understood what I had heard all those years in Catholic school. God really does love me. He DOES have a plan. All I can do is listen to His plan in my heart and take the next right steps. This was a spiritual awakening that deepened my faith. It almost felt like another Confirmation for me. I was claiming my faith as my own, because I NEEDED it. My anxiety lessened and I have been able to take major strides in my career. All because I trusted in my Lord and listened.

I share this story because my faith is what is helping me through this crisis. It’s honestly a miracle that I’m not wrapped in plastic right now. Am I scared? FOR SURE! Am I overwhelmed? YOU BET. However, I am finding solace in my Lord. I’m talking to Him. Asking him to help me do the next right thing and to protect myself and everyone I love. That’s all I can do….because we know that God definitely can do more.

Thank you all for the time to share.

Gratefully,
Jackie Ostick

Love in the Time of Coronavirus: A Call for Submissions

Hi Frassati community,

In light of all the uncertainty we are experiencing this week and looking ahead to the isolation many will experience in the weeks to come, we want to make a real effort as a community to use the reflections platform to reach out to one another, express our solidarity, and seek to strengthen our faith through these trials.

Down the road, many Frassati members who are able are hoping to go outward to serve those in need affected by this crisis, following in the steps of our patron Blessed Pier Giorgio. But right now, our primary focus is to form our hearts through prayer. We pray this will strengthen us to discern how God is calling us to respond to these events and to do so while grounded in the inner peace and joy that only the Lord can bring.

As many of us suddenly find ourselves with a lot of extra free time on our hands, I want to open a call for anyone in our community to share a word of reflection with us. This may take many forms: a full-length reflection on Scripture, a prayer you would like to pass along, an inspiring quote from one of the saints, a short letter to those who are feeling lonely and fearful, etc. The goal of these posts will be to help us to look outward at how we can be connected to one another in prayer and use this time fruitfully—instead of turning inward, seeing only our own fears and anxieties.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, we want to hear your voice. If anything, I hope that through these posts we would be reminded of how many other people are out there alongside us in spirit. I ask that you would prayerfully reflect on whether there is any word God is asking you to share with all of us—not just now, but during the weeks to come as well.

We will be editing any submissions as they come in and will figure out how often to schedule them as we assess how many we’re receiving. Also, we may decide to post some submissions via our social media platforms if they are best suited to that format. As we are still in the process of figuring out what this will look like, we can’t guarantee that every post will be shared, but we will do our best to respond to each one. Know that any word you have to share with us is greatly appreciated.

To submit your reflections, please email us at reflections@frassati.nyc.

Let’s share the love of Christ with one another and live this ultra-Lenten season to the fullest!

Verso L’Alto,
Erin