Synagogues have suspended worship. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints services are cancelled worldwide. Catholic masses cannot be celebrated with congregations across the nation. The spread of COVID-19 has stripped away our means of worship from us, leaving us alone and diminishing outreach for our souls.
Although our lives have changed drastically in the past two weeks, now is not the time to sit back and watch our lives, intertwined in sickness and isolation, pass before us.
Now is the time to be a saint.
Amidst the fear that surrounds our nation currently, it’s quite possible to take the easy way out. We can step away from our family and friends. We can use this time as a so-called “self-care” period to let ourselves sleep through the afternoon. We can stumble through the rest of the school semester with our work and only give the minimum amount of effort as everything is transferred online.
But we don’t have to live this way. Now is the time to step out of our comfort zones, reach out to our families, and re-devote ourselves to worship, to life, and to our God — even when we can’t attend Sunday worship.
The idea of being a saint has always seemed strange to me growing up, and I’m sure both Christians and non-Christians alike can relate. It seems impossible that I could be able to reach saintly standards of sanctity, sacrifice, holiness, and virtue, especially in our current situation.
One by one, parishes began to cancel Sunday mass, and it slowly became a reality that I wouldn’t be receiving the Eucharist any time soon — maybe not until after Easter.
A family friend who was a priest would often come over to my house for dinner. For hours on end, he would discuss anything from theology to politics to football to dinosaurs with me and my family. If we were lucky, we could even convince him to play a round of kickball with us. One evening, he told us that a single reception of the Eucharist is enough to make you a saint. One reception of the Eucharist has enough grace within it to demolish the build-up of pain in our hearts, to transform our lives, and to make us saints.
Sainthood doesn’t require an individual to perform miracles or convert nations or split seas. Each of our vocations looks incredibly different. The beauty of our calling, however, is that we are all called to be saints, no matter what our lives look like at the moment. We are all called to press into the messy circumstances of our lives, to serve our families with humility and patience, and, most importantly, to worship our God — especially in times of despair and loneliness. Our lives are a mission for our Lord, especially when the world is struck by panic and sickness.
Now, more than ever before, is the time to step up and be the saint God calls us to be.
Hospitals across our country scramble to prepare for the outbreak. Our nation’s leaders work nearly every hour of the day to enact policies that will protect citizens from the virus without destroying the economy. And as the sickness continues to spread across the globe and in our own communities, I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the coronavirus has erupted upon our nation now.
Because I need a wake-up call. And you need a wake-up call. And our whole world needs a wake-up call. Not just a wake-up call to the responsibility we have of taking care of families and friends, but a wake-up call to God’s calling for us.
We were made for this. We were made to say no in the face of fear, to step away from comfort, and boldly choose to be the saint God asks us to be.
So often I find myself looking forward to some next thing, to some event in the future or new agenda, but what about the now?
By working to become a saint now, we can breathe new life into our families and renew a spirit of joy and love in every corner of our lives. With trust in God’s grace, we can use the threat of a global pandemic to awaken that which is dead within us. In the book of Ezekiel, God awakens the dry bones around Him and commands them to come alive:
“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life… I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.”
After commanding new life, He does not leave them empty creatures, but He breathes new life into them. The Lord is building up a vast army within his people, and that is not excluded from two thousand years ago. Although we are seeking a perfect cure and solution for the problems we currently face, we are more so deprived of true and holy sainthood that God is calling us to. The Lord is building up His army now. Now is the time to be a saint.
Though we may be separated from our closest friends, dispensed from Sunday worship, and must live at home for the rest of the semester, we must hold fast to our God’s promise of new life amidst dry bones.
Although many may believe the idea of dying to be quite morbid, it is freeing to know that even when death seems to conquer, the Lord is preparing us for an everlasting life here and now — a new life that we can start living in our homes today.
During this time of fear, let’s not allow sickness and sorrow to control us. Instead, let us reorient our minds, souls, and bodies to our God. Do not be afraid to call out to God, to ask Him for peace, grace, and mercy. For our God is a God of abundance, and He is more than willing to pour out into our lives, especially now.
Let us not snooze our alarms five times each morning, but instead, wake up to what is happening around us.
Let us not fear death, but praise God that He has breathed new life in us in this time of confusion. Now is the time to be a saint, and this call goes out to all of us.
Hannah Cote is a freshman studying English.