In Isolation

james lyons

Alongside your crucifix and lighted candle (or lamp), place a world atlas.

If you do not have an atlas, write the name of as many countries you can recall and lay the list in the centre of your sacred space.

Giving thanks for this new day

God of the universe.
All life comes from you
and all nations are held in your loving embrace.
The pandemic that now holds us hostage
threatens the wellbeing and stability
of the whole world.
With the dawning of this new day
we place our trust in you.
Gather us under your protecting wings
that we might encourage one another
and work together to bring health, safety and peace.

Self-isolation signals a cut-off from many usual and normal contacts.

Social distancing affects every community – family, school, church, town, city, the entire nation, and internationally as well.

This is a terrible global phenomenon.

But perhaps it will bring blessings, as we all come to realise what makes life so precious and the aspects of living we have taken for granted or never really appreciated.

To begin, use some of this prayer time, and some of this day, to reflect on the tragedy of isolation – not simply your own, but the many ways in which people experience isolation: the imprisoned, refugees, social outcasts, the elderly abandoned by family, solo parents, the sick kept in isolation, a person or persons nobody wants anything to do with…

Here are some characters Jesus encountered who knew the pain of isolation: a Leper (Lk 5:12-16), the Gerasene Demoniac (Lk 8:26-39), Lazarus – at the gate of the rich man, (Lk 16:19-31), Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10).

There are many more, including Jesus himself; Peter and the other disciples, as a consequence of their abandoning Jesus (Matthew 26:56; Lk 22:54-62; Matthew 27:46).

  • Pray these episodes – each of them at different times during the day.  Note the ways in which these people were isolated.  You may like to look for other examples in the gospel narratives.  Note, too, the concern of Jesus to restore people to the community or to help the community to be more accepting of the isolated one.  Luke’s gospel is particularly concerned with the healing ministry of Jesus and the greatest healing happens when people are at peace with one another.
  • Using your atlas or list of countries, locate those most affected by Coronavirus.   Consider the amount of isolation affecting the people of these lands and the enormous changes occurring in lifestyle, commerce, transport, and day-to-day living.  Pray the following psalm with hope in your heart for healing, for increase in faith and for the strengthening of love between people, isolated or not.

Psalm 91

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress;
my God in whom I trust.

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge…

You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday…

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone…

Those who love me I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue them and honour them…

Rosary Prayer: Pray the 5th Joyful Mystery – the Finding of the Child Jesus.

Jesus becomes “isolated” from the Nazareth “caravan” and is feared lost in Jerusalem.  Mary and Joseph search for him through a number of days.  Offer this Decade for all who are isolated or lost, and for those desperate to find them and to be reunited.

  • Keep contact with people you know to be isolated at this time through phone, email or other social media.  The Church has always regarded the “media” as gifts of God.  Well used, they can be life-savers and health-givers.  Be aware of how much you are now valuing the calls of those concerned for your welfare.

Wonder Counsellor

I give thanks for the many ways
you guide the skills of people to improve and
assist the ways we communicate with one another.
In this time of isolation
when physical contact needs to be avoided
we are blessed with electronic media to
enable support to be given
news to be known and
love to be shared.
May my gratitude continue
beyond this emergency
so that I never misuse any of your gifts.

If you have access to music, conclude by listening to a quiet, reflective piece.

Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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