As the reader must surely know, the world is battling a new and insidious virus right now, referred to a COVID-19, a novel coronavirus, which has taken hold all over the globe. To combat this virus, many countries (including these United States) are implementing strict lockdown measures, intended to prevent as much mingling as possible, and limit opportunities for transmission from one person to another, in order to slow (and ultimately end) the disease’s spread.
In most places (and more each day), this has caused quite a disruption in daily life. Restaurants are offering to-go only services; shopping malls and most other recreational institutions are closing down; people are encouraged to avoid any unnecessary contact with anyone apart from their immediate family; offices and businesses are either closed or switching to telecommute-only, when possible. Dioceses and archdioceses throughout the country have suspended public Masses, and cancelled religious instruction, youth groups, and other events; schools are closed, leaving children and parents across the country to adapt to a modified homeschool approach, in order to ensure that children continue to learn, in spite of the limitations at hand.
The current situation is unlike anything in living memory. It has been so long since such drastic measures have been taken that they seem virtually unprecedented. Not since the Spanish Influenza pandemic in 1918 has public life been turned so dramatically upside down to combat a public health crisis.
There is a question that arises out of the current situation that can be appropriately addressed by the present blog: how can children continue to receive solid religious instruction now that they are not in school or parish religious education classes?
This is a very good question, and indeed an important one.
It also does highlight a very important point that has gotten lost in recent decades: parents are the primary educators of their children. They should not rely on the school or catechist to teach their child — particularly when it comes to the faith, and how to live as a Christian, parents should set the example and impart the Truth in Love to their children. The large scale quarantines, lockdowns, etc. brought about in response to the COVID-19 pandemic provide a unique opportunity for parents to reclaim their role as primary educators of their children.
I want to bring to the reader’s attention several offers from Ignatius Press to help with faith formation, religious instruction, and growth in holiness during this period.
Our flagship catechetical series is Faith and Life. To assist during this time of closures and quarantines, Ignatius Press and Catholic Faith Technologies (My Catholic Faith Delivered) are offering Faith and Life Online free through June 2020. For more information, or to enroll go to: http://faithformation.zohosites.com With any questions, please contact Catholic Faith Techologies at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you like what you see and are interested in getting Faith and Life for your classroom for next year, please feel free to contact Julie Johnson at email@example.com or 1-866-431-1531, or Paul Senz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 971-678-9512.
It should also be noted that none of us are ever done being catechized. There is always more to learn about the faith; we can always grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ; we can always answer the call to discipleship in a more profound way. And this is an opportunity for all of us to engage more deeply with our faith.
Many of you are likely familiar with FORMED.org, the Catholic media platform that has sometimes been referred to as “Catholic Netflix.” The Catholic Faith, on demand: thousands of movies, documentaries, Bible studies, catechetical series, sacramental instruction, audio, radio dramas, and eBooks, available instantly. FORMED is powered by Ignatius Press and the Augustine Institute, and is a phenomenal and massive repository of resources for growing in the faith. For a limited time, FORMED is offering 40-day free trials. More information and registration here: https://formed.org/faithathome
In addition to this, many other publishers are offering special discounts on their books at this time. A simple search on YouTube will yield countless phenomenal videos of talks, television episodes, reflections, and classes from just about every Catholic luminary of the last half century; parishes, cathedrals, priories, monasteries all across the country and the world are making available livestreams of their Masses, communal Divine Office, rosaries, Chaplets of Divine Mercy, and more; EWTN and CatholicTV have massive archival libraries of audio and video; and much, much more.
This is a unique time, and a singular opportunity. This can be a time of fruitful growth in holiness and in devotion to Jesus Christ. Let us grow in love for the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; let us appreciate the Sacraments with greater fervor. Let us use this time wisely, praying for the Church and the world, placing ourselves into the embrace of Our Lord, our Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph, Protector of the Church.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Guardian Angels, pray for us!