By Ottrisha Carter
Despite all the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has brought, we must admit that this crisis has given us an opportunity to make space in our lives for God.
Before the pandemic, we lived very busy lives, making little or no time to learn more about God and how we could improve our prayer lives and become the best versions of ourselves.
However, Covid came and reminded us that we are not in control, but God is. Many of our plans had to be cancelled due to restrictions that did not allow us to continue living normal lives. As we say in Trinidad, ‘man plans, but God unplans’.
Having to spend most of our time at home during lockdowns, causes us to find creative ways to continue our journeys with the Lord. One of these activities that many people have taken advantage of is spiritual reading.
Not everyone likes to read, but there are many different types of spiritual reading opportunities available for us to learn more about our faith. According to St Josemaría Escrivá, “Don’t neglect your spiritual reading. Reading has made many saints.”
We can easily make excuses as to why we’re unable to participate in spiritual reading. Some might say that we cannot afford to purchase spiritual books during Covid due to financial difficulties. This is quite understandable.
However, there are other ways in which we can access spiritual books to read at no cost. St Augustine once said, “Nourish your soul with Bible reading. It will prepare a spiritual feast.”
My parish priest, Fr Stephan Alexander has an interesting spiritual reading programme called ‘Encountered By The Word’ which is livestreamed on the Parish of St Martin de Porres, Coryal’s Facebook and Instagram pages every week from Monday to Friday at 5.30 p.m.
During these sessions, we are given the opportunity to learn more about our faith and God’s unconditional love for us, as we continue to live through this difficult period of our lives.
There is no need to purchase any books since Fr Stephan reads each chapter in the book that he is doing and gives a thorough explanation of what is being read. We have been exposed to material written by famous Catholic authors like Henri Nouwen and Matthew Kelly.
These sessions are insightful, informative, and spirit-filled. I look forward to participating virtually in these sessions since there is always something that God wants me to hear.
As Father journeys with us through these spiritual reading sessions, our everyday life experiences are compared and linked to what is being read and we are encouraged to reflect on our own personal lives.
According to St Ambrose, “Spiritual reading is the food of the soul, which renders it dauntless and strong against all temptation, which prompts it with holy thoughts and ardent desire for heaven, which enlightens the mind, strengthens the will and gives comfort in all afflictions, which in conclusion, procures that true and holy joy which is found in God alone.”
Spiritual reading can really help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we continue to hold on to the promise that God will take care of everything. Amidst all the fear and anxiety, spiritual reading continues to remind us of the light that is at the end of the tunnel.
As Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope.”
Let’s try our best not to allow the trials, struggles, obstacles, pain, and grief that the coronavirus pandemic has brought. Let’s pray, trust God, hold on to Jesus, wear our masks, sanitise, social distance, stay at home, be safe and believe that God is with us in this Covid crisis.