“For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.”
(2 Corinthians 2:4)
As I write this letter with the help of my wife and children, I can’t help but think of St. Paul’s “letter of tears” to the Corinthians. The great preacher and missionary of the primitive church was saddened to see the many challenges the people of Corinth were facing. Many of these challenges were associated with their faith. He was nevertheless there to encourage them. Though the circumstances are very different, millions of Christian families are currently experiencing various trials thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our faith is being tested. As parents, we try to do our best to guide our children through this new lifestyle so that they may feel secure, safe and remain hopeful. We do this “with many tears” because of “the abundant love” that we have for our children, even as we face our own fears and worries.
St. Paul’s words resonate with us very much right now. As a family, we have been leading retreats, workshops, and prayer services for other families. We do this, not because we have everything figured out, but because we believe God is calling the domestic church to get out there and preach the Good News of Jesus in word and deed. But today, unable to get out there and spread the Gospel, we join the rest of the families who are in quarantine, in their anguish and uncertainty, as we all do our best to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading. Please know that as we write this article to encourage other families, we ourselves are new to this unprecedented experience. We write this “with many tears” but with the hope “that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We are living in a surreal situation. Schools have closed. Masses have been suspended. Millions of people have been ordered to stay home for at least the next few weeks. Parents have flocked to grocery stores to ensure they have what they need during the shutdown. Some children are excited about staying home, while others are anxious; and many families are wondering how they will get through during this difficult time.
As parents of six children, four of them school-aged, my wife and I totally get it. We, too, are trying to figure things out. In this time of uncertainty and anxiety, I’d like to share some tips and reminders that help us find peace in the storm while also doing good for ourselves and for others:
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