How are you managing right now as we live through this uncertain and difficult time?
We have probably all considered the same questions and scenarios when it comes to what “makes sense” for us regarding the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you are like me, in the beginning you saw other people hoarding everything from toilet paper to cases of Coca-Cola and thought to yourself: “This is crazy. Everyone is overreacting. We don’t need to empty all the shelves in the grocery store. Everyone just needs to be calm, prudent, sensible, and to stay as isolated as is possible.”
Last week, I saw two women fighting over the last case of Ginger Ale at the store. I thought about interrupting them and saying, “Ladies, let’s look out for each other—not fight with one another. This is not the time for that. This is the time for unity and charity. We are all fighting the same struggle right now to be safe and healthy and keep our loved ones the same.”
I did push my cart right up to theirs, stop, and watch them as they argued about the Canada Dry. I wasn’t trying to get in the mix. I was just so puzzled by it all, having never seen that behavior before.
I am blessed to live in a country where goods are plentiful and shelves are full. As I listened to those women, it occurred to me: there is a psychology behind this kind of panic. It’s a train we jump aboard without even realizing it. Before we know it, we are riding the train and fighting over the last case of Ginger Ale...
I admit it. I almost took the leap myself. I went to the Walmart just a mile or so from home expecting there to be toilet paper. Not because I wanted to stock up. I went because I was actually out of toilet paper. Talk about rotten timing! The manager is a friendly gentleman that I speak to every week. We are on a first-name basis. I had to go to that Walmart three times in three days. I asked him, on day three of my toilet paper search, “So, when do you think toilet paper will come in?”
He replied, “Oh, it’s coming in every day. We unload it by the pallet and it’s gone in fifteen minutes. Never seen anything like it.” He told me to try back after 5 p.m. because one more truck was coming that day.
My son had a dental appointment at 4 p.m. I found myself watching the clock at the dental office, wondering if we could possibly get out of there by 5:00 and to the Walmart by 5:15, in order to score some toilet paper before the pallet was shelved and disappeared.
Victory! We reached the Walmart at 5:30. There were three twelve-packs left—the rest of the space was completely empty again. Why would I need more than twelve rolls? That should last us at least a month. But...we were right there...I caught myself wondering, “Should I just go ahead and buy two packages?”
At that moment, my son said, “Mom, I’m proud of us. We could have taken two of those but some other people wouldn’t have any if we didn’t share.”
Out of the mouths of babes...
We headed to the front of the store to pay and I saw several people taking pictures of the empty shelf after two people in the aisle got the last packages of toilet paper. This mystified me. On the way home I asked myself, “What is it about hoarding a bunch of supplies that makes us feel safe?”
I’d be willing to bet there were people at the store who had no idea what was coming over them. They saw others running for toilet paper and thought they should run, too, or risk losing out and being left without it in a few weeks when their supply ran out. Before they knew it, it was off to the races.
Why don’t we think about all the other people who are really out of toilet paper? Why don’t we care? Because our brains are going to “self-preservation mode” in a crisis? Because we are awaiting and expecting the worst-case scenario? Because some of us have never experienced this before and are alarmed, afraid, or swept away by it all?
I realized in that moment that it was about control.
If I feel in control of some of these smaller things in my environment—while big things are going haywire around me—that somehow makes me feel that I am able to keep things manageable, safe, and secure.
But how can buying toilet paper calm our feelings of fear and anxiety in this pandemic?
What If We Pray?
Panic and attempts to stay in control don’t actually help us. But they do promote scarcity of goods that were not going to be scarce in the first place—and they don’t free us from anxiety in any lasting way.
As followers of Christ, we know the source of freedom and peace. It is God.
Why don’t we turn to prayer together—united across every other boundary that separates us—and in that way, have a proper perspective on “control?” Because ultimately, only God is in control.
My daughter and I were praying the Rosary recently, asking St. Joseph to intercede in this time of panic in which the risk for each one of us is truly unknown.
Afterward we pondered: what would it be like if every Catholic family in the United States, and even around the world, stopped on the same day, at the same time, and prayed together in reparation for our own sins and the sins of the world? For the lives lost to the virus; the innocent people suffering in our world; those suffering the effects of this virus; those who are looking for treatments; those who have lost loved ones; and those who are in hospitals on ventilators?
Instead of the entire family sitting at home on their cell phones—or going about their days looking at this as something surreal and unbelievable, shocking or alarming—what if we turned all that thought and energy into prayer begging the Lord to have mercy on us, our families, communities and countries—and to end this pandemic? What if we asked St. Michael to protect us, St. Raphael to heal us, and Our Blessed Mother to rain graces down on us all?
It would be a modern-day Nineveh. It would not take that long. You can pray a Rosary in fifteen minutes.
Imagine the collective impact of that line of thinking and those powerful prayers. The unity that we could elicit would be colossal. It would be like a giant wake-up call. It would move the heart of God and bring down graces from Our Most Holy Mother. She has told us that prayer, repentance, and fasting are powerful enough to stay the hand of God.
Why are we out looking for toilet paper?
Will You Join Us?
On March 15, the Holy Father left the Vatican and made a mini-pilgrimage to pray for the end of this pandemic, the souls who have been lost, the lives of those who are suffering, the families affected, the health care workers, and the protection of all God’s children. He said that Our Lady guards our health with her graces and therefore he asked her intercession.
Would you and your family join us here at The Catholic Company by offering a simple prayer to ask for peace, comfort, healing and an end to the pandemic?
You could pray any prayer, in any form, asking for protection, healing and relief from this terrible virus. Here is one we can pray together, or you can pray your own prayer from the heart. But let’s do it in unity, all of us. Together, let us move the heart of God for our families, our nation and the world.
Here Is A Prayer You Can Use
Mary, you are our Mother. You love your children and know how to care for all of us with the most tender love. Intercede for us in this time of disease and anxiety.
St. Joseph, you are our Spiritual Father, so powerful before the throne of God. Come to our aid and intercede in our deliverance.
St. Michael, you are the Prince of Angels. You are the protector of the heavens and of God’s faithful ones here on earth. Protect us all in this pandemic.
St. Raphael, Angel of Healing, we ask your intercession for all those in need and at risk.
Jesus, your love for us is unending and your power is limitless. You desire the salvation of all your children. We pray in reparation for our sins and the sins of the world, and for all innocent people suffering in the world—especially from this virus.
We pray for the lives lost, the families affected, the health care workers and scientists trying to find treatment. We ask protection for all of us, for we are all God’s children, united in Him. We ask for an end to this crisis in Jesus’ Holy Name.
How are you praying during this time?
Have you had to remind yourself not to panic, but to trust?
Share with us in the comments below!