Celebrating Easter Vigil with a Christian mindfulness approach helps the experience to become so much more alive, even during this unique pandemic experience.
We are facing the final illness of a beloved pet, Clarence, in the midst of this quarantine, as well as having a mother-in-law we can’t visit in an assisted living facility that has at least one coronavirus case. It is sad, yet we know that so many other people have it much worse. One benefit of this season is that I have been able to participate more fully in Lent and Holy Week than usual. The Lord is speaking to my heart.
Today He reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). If we mindfully abide in Christ, he gives us the strength we need moment by moment. We need to move forward with our eyes on Him.
Today we renew our baptismal vows, decorate for Easter and make our Easter eggs. It is a day that, for more than two millennia, Christians have taken an attitude of watchfulness and prayer.
All-powerful and ever-loving God, your own Son went down among the dead and rose against in glory. In your goodness raise up your faithful people buried with him in baptism, to be one with him, in the eternal life of heaven.
Spend Good Friday with Jesus. Fast during the day, perhaps taking some soup at 11ish. Spend the hours between noon and 3 p.m. in prayer, spiritual reading and meditation before a candle. Blow out the candle at 3 p.m.
Let all my world be silent in your presence, Lord, so that I may hear what the Lord God may say in my heart. Your words are so softly spoken that no one can hear them except in a deep silence. But to hear them lifts him who sits alone and in silence completely above his natural powers, because he who humbles himself will be lifted up. He who sits alone and listens will be raised above himself.
Waking up in the night to think about the pandemic is common. It’s also another opportunity to use Christian mindfulness to enjoy the presence of the Lord.
Sleepless nights are a common problem going back to ancient times. David wrote about a solution to them in Psalm 63:6: “On my bed I remember you. I think of you through the watches of the night.”
The Lord has asked us to cast all our anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7) so He will support our efforts to turn our nighttime thoughts to Him.
Once you are awake, consciously work to turn your attention to prayer and worship. Listening to a playlist with worship music, either out loud or on ear buds, can help. Thinking through memorized Bible verses about God’s gifts of love, joy and peace can help. Just turning our attention to gratitude about God’s gifts also works.
As a prayer for Holy Week notes:
Through your Son you taught us, Father, not to be fearful of tomorrow but to commit our lives to your care. Do not withhold your Spirit from us but help us to find a life of peace after these days of trouble.
The wonderful people at Jesuit Media Initiatives have added Pray as You Stay to their Pray as You Go website and app. The support series is “aimed to support you during this time of self-isolation, uncertainty and fear, which we are all going through.”
So far, two weeks of prayer reflections have been posted. I’ve been using them in the evening before bed to help calm me down.
Like the daily Pray as You Go, the prayer reflections are between 10 and 13 minutes long, combining music, scripture and reflection. The aim is to help us all become more aware of God’s presence in our lives and to learn to listen to God’s word.
This quarantine is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What kind of experience is mostly up to us. April is a great opportunity to have a home-based retreat. If you are alone or at home with adults, you have the ability to schedule times of solitude and silence. We can look through our bookshelves or online, asking the Lord to show us the way.
If you are at home with children, this is an opportunity like no other to teach them about character, faith and perseverance. A retreat with your children could be a great creative experience with scheduled times for learning and listening. For example, you could create your own Vacation Bible School for the young and work through Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline for the teens. Amazon also has some books of guided reflections for children that could help.
This virus is from our fallen world, but the Lord can redeem our time, calm our fears and teach us lessons in this time. We can open ourselves up to ask God what He has to show us. We can read, pray and reflect.
God has shown up how fragile our civilization is and how interconnected we are with each other. I also feel that God is working with us to deepen our faith and give us the strength to choose calm and peace.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Jesus, Matthew 6: 26-27
Talking about how not to worry, Jesus suggested that we look at the birds. Mindfully observing birds today is a wonderful mindfulness exercise.
This year, many of us get to observe spring as never before. Take a good long look at what’s outside your window. It is a sign from God.
Write out a verse of hope on a 3 x 5 card or anything that’s handy. Post it somewhere where you wait for brief periods on a regular basis. For example, I have verses on top of the microwave, beside my laptop and by the Keurig machine in my husband’s office. We need to change them out on a regular basis so we keep consciously seeing them.
Here are some verses to consider:
Why are you downcast, o my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:21)
Therefore prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:13)
Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
Be strong and take heart, all of you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:34)
For you have been my hope, my sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. (Psalm 71:5)