Making a Gift of Ourselves During the Pandemic

Making a Gift of Ourselves During the Pandemic

During this time of sheltering and quarantines, the TOBI staff remains hard at work from our homes continuing the mission to share with you St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. All of us by now know someone who has been affected by COVID-19, and we’ve been praying for each of you and your families.

While anxiety can run high during this time, there are also windows of opportunity for grace and to grow in deeper intimacy with the Lord. I went around the virtual Institute office asking staff members for thoughts and tips that have brought them peace and might bless you during these uncertain times. Perhaps you’re already doing some of these and can share other ideas on our Facebook page.

Christopher West, TOBI President

We can only become a gift in the measure that we are in the posture of receiving God’s gift to us, and that means learning the ever-deeper ways of prayer. Don’t bottle up frustrations, concerns, worries — “pour your heart out to the Lord” as the psalmist says, and make everything you are feeling and going through a prayer. And listen: what is the Lord saying to us in this time of trial? What are the certainties we can hold onto in this time of uncertainty? This time of global concern is an opportunity for solidarity and communion in suffering and provides countless opportunities to become witnesses to the peace that surpasses understanding. But we cannot give what we do not have …  We must be constantly in the posture of receiving the peace that Christ alone gives: “My own peace I give to you … not as the world gives … in this world you will have trouble, but take courage, for I have overcome the world!”

Jason Clark, Executive Director

  • Practice the power of praise. Ask for the grace of gratitude and take a few moments in prayer each day to give God thanks for all things in your life, especially the difficult things. We know God works all things for good for those who love and trust him. So, practice that trust through gratitude and surrender. It’s a time to surrender all the things we cannot control (hint: God is really in control of everything). I’ve had beautiful moments in prayer of surrendering myself, my wife, my children, my home, my work, my worries, my hopes and my desires to the Lord.
  • Spend time enjoying nature! Breathe the fresh air outside. Soak up the sun when it comes out. Look at the sky and listen to the birds.
  • Take advantage of video calls. Stay in touch with friends and loved ones with the beauty of modern technology. I’ve made extra effort during this time to reach out to friends all over the world who are also quarantined. There’s a joy and peace that comes in knowing you’re connected with those you love and that we’re in this predicament together.

Bill Donaghy, TOBI Senior Lecturer and Content Specialist

  • Take time to step outside in the open air, (regardless of the weather:) and praise God for the wind, rain, sunshine and birdsong that floods your senses with sheer gratuitousness! Its free and unplugged exuberance is a reminder that all shall be well. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, in the end the Shadow is “only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
  • Read some Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, Graham Green, Walker Percy or Flannery O’Connor. Maybe the fictional tales of Michael D. O’Brien, a fabulous contemporary Catholic author. Get lost in great literature!

Jen Settle, Director of Programs

  • Find and participate in Mass online each day. Make a spiritual Communion.
  • Turn off social media, email, TV…. and read Scripture or books on the saints and holy topics…
  • Turn any suffering into an offering for something or someone. Be intentional about it.
  • Have your kids color pictures or write notes to elderly people in nursing homes.
  • Sit in silence to journal and pray.
  • Get outside for a walk!

Troy Norman, Data Management Specialist

  • Offer to do errands for someone in need (e.g. grocery shopping, shopping for other essentials).
  • Be conscientious about phoning individuals (family, friends, or elderly parishioners — maybe ask your pastor for suggestions) who might live alone to keep them company via conversation.

Bill Howard, Media Director

  • If you pray daily rosaries, chaplets or other devotions, invite your family and friends to join you.
  • Reconnect with the saints! Do you pray for the intercession of your namesake saint, or your confirmation saint? Do you know your guardian angel’s name? Bring them into your prayers for healing of those affected by the pandemic. Men, if you don’t have a relationship with St. Joseph, now is the time to introduce yourself! He is a powerful intercessor and model.
  • Though many churches around the world have stopped public Masses for the near future, we can still say hello to Jesus in the Eucharist and publicly witness to the Real Presence by making the sign of the cross every time we pass in front of a Catholic church. Maybe pull into the parking lot and spend time with him there.
  • [From my brother-in-law Shawn]: “Reflect on Ephesians 4:15-16. Be considerate of your spouse’s weaknesses and fears during this time so you can be patient, pray and come up with special ways to make your spouse feel love, respected and at peace.”
  • Dust off your stack of half-read books and finish at least some of them!

Michele Sankus, Products & Resources Support

  • I’ve been making a gift of myself by taking care of my friend’s two dogs while he is in the hospital. Though, the dogs have really been a great gift to me!
  • Also, my family and I have been delivering the Divine Mercy image to friends and family’s mailboxes, in hopes they fix the image to their front door. We continue to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
  • I have been given the gift of live-streaming Fr. Frank Pavone’s 10 a.m. daily Mass and enjoying his homilies.
  • In turn, I am receiving an even greater gift from our Creator! He is revealing to me much of my brokenness, ever so gently. I am thankful for this opportunity to work on my imperfections and to make myself more in the pure image of our God. We are putting all of our trust in Jesus!