Proclaiming the Gospel in the Time of COVID

By Chris Sparks

What does it mean to proclaim the joy of the Gospel and Jesus, the Divine Mercy, during these times of grief and suffering for so many people?

There have been so many hundreds of thousands dead in this country from the pandemic, and millions around the world. There’s so much economic disruption and dislocation going on right now, who knows what things will look like in a week or a month, let alone a year? The world is caught up in an enormous time of transition, an enormous time of change, some in the natural world, some in the political or economic spheres, and some, most likely, in the supernatural realm.

After all, we live in a time of immense promises from Heaven. These are the days of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart, as Our Lady asked for at Fatima and in apparitions to the Servant of God Lucia dos Santos throughout her life. These are the days of the Divine Mercy message and devotion, a time of immense grace and holy opportunity, but also of tremendous sin, for “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom 5:20).

One of the things I’ve found myself doing as this past year and a half has ground on is to imagine I’m looking ahead at the towering challenges and duties lying before me, seeing them in my mind as sky scrapers or mountains. And I allow them to meet my prayer — my Rosary or my Divine Mercy Chaplet — and shrink by the grace of the prayers, woven into the rope of my beads, drawn down from impossible to difficult to easy, to a path made smooth and straight through the grace of God. It’s been an immensely helpful mental habit, a way of visualizing what happens with grace and prayer. I’m not saying my imaginings made a real difference; I’m saying my imagining helped me really internalize that God’s grace is more powerful than any challenges and that the Rosary and the Chaplet offer us the path to solving any difficulty, if God wills that such challenges be solved.

In many ways, the tidal wave of suffering and change is itself reason enough to greet it with a tidal wave of proclaiming and practicing Marian devotion, the Divine Mercy message and devotion, and the other treasures given to us through the Church, like consecration to St. Joseph. We ought not be silenced or intimidated by the suffering so present around us, but rather bring forth the treasures from our Catholic Tradition and approved traditions to help everyone make it through.

Our prayer is indispensable preparation for proclaiming the Gospel. We should be encouraged to share the tremendous gifts we have in Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium; in writings of saints and Doctors of the Church; in devotions and ways of performing works of mercy. We should be uniting our own sufferings to the sufferings of Christ, especially at the Mass, and bringing to bear the love and life of God against the world, the flesh, and the devil. All the saints of Heaven stand at our back; all the angels wait on God’s will; all the world is under the lordship of Christ the King and the Queen of Heaven and Earth. We have everything we need. Saint Faustina discusses this reality:

The Lord God grants His graces in two ways: by inspiration and by enlightenment. If we ask God for a grace, He will give it to us; but let us be willing to accept it. And in order to accept it, self-denial is needed. Love does not consist in words or feelings, but in deeds. It is an act of the will; it is a gift; that is to say, a giving. The reason, the will, the heart — these three faculties must be exercised during prayer. I will rise from the dead in Jesus, but first I must live in Him. If I do not separate myself from the Cross, then the Gospel will be revealed in me. Jesus in me makes up for all my deficiencies. His grace operates without ceasing. The Holy Trinity grants me Its life abundantly, by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Three Divine Persons live in me. When God loves, He loves with all His Being, with all the power of His Being. If God has loved me in this way, how should I respond — I, His spouse? (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 392).

We can credibly proclaim the Gospel when God is alive and present in our hearts. How do we welcome Him in? By remaining in the state of grace through Baptism and regular Confession; nourishing our communion with God through frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist; and living our faith through a sacramental life, regular prayer, spiritual reading (especially Scripture), works of mercy, and love of God and neighbor.

So let us meet the present moment with the joy of the Gospel. Let us turn to the treasures of our faith and bring them out to meet the many debts of our age, debts of sin, of poverty, of weakness, of mistakes. Let us share with our neighbors the inexhaustible treasures of God’s grace and Catholic truth. And let us make sure that we remember that we can’t give what we haven’t got, taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of others well and with love.

Pray for me, that I may practice what I preach. I’ll pray for you.

Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers. He is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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