How We Can Continue to Love Our Neighbors From Afar
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, but with our current restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID19, how is it possible to continue to love our neighbor and still maintain social distancing?
We can learn from the patron saint of missions, St. Therese of Lisieux. She was a cloistered Carmelite nun, who died in 1897. She is one of only three female doctors of the church. She never went on missions, founded an order, or did what one would consider to be great works. She simply had a love for the missions and wrote many letters and prayed many prayers for missionaries. During her lifetime, she appeared to be an ordinary nun. However, after her death, her writings were published and inspired the world. We can learn from her example today as we practice social distancing.
These past few weeks with COVID 19 social distancing has been difficult for everyone. Here are some ways one can love our neighbor from afar (and still maintain social distance)!
1. Pray for Your Neighbors
During this time, remember your friends and neighbors in your prayers. With the differences in routines, everyone is stressed to the maximum, whether one is simply working from home, newly schooling from home, or simply just staying home. Prayer helps!
2. Pray the Rosary
Didn’t I just say pray for your neighbor? One of the best ways to help you remember to pray for your neighbor is to pray the rosary. Our Blessed Mother is the Queen of intercessors. Let us enlist her help. The rosary naturally lends itself to the offering of intentions. Make the rosary a powerful tool of intercession while you are social distancing.
3. Check in on a Different Family Member or Friend Daily
With these high stress situations, a simple phone call, text, or video conference to check in on a family member or friend can help raise everyone’s spirits. It’s hard to be at home without any adult interaction!
4. Offer to Pick Up Groceries or Other Essentials
Justin and I just had our fourth child. Due to restrictions and out of stock items at our stores, it has been difficult at times to find food and other essentials for our family. Additionally, we have been trying to avoid public places as much as possible. We have greatly appreciated friends who have offered to pick us up items at the grocery store when they were making their own grocery run. They then dropped the items on the porch so no contact was necessary. Additionally, before the baby was born, we would watch for needed supplies that were difficult to find (such as toilet paper) and pick them up at the store for friends if we could find it.
5. Take Part in a Teddy Bear Scavenger Hunt
Our city has decided to do a teddy bear scavenger hunt, where various members of the community place teddy bears or other stuffed animals on their lawn or in their windows in order for children (and adults!) to drive by and “find” them. It’s a safe social distancing activity as our parks and other recreational activities are currently closed. Other cities have done rainbows, Easter eggs, or other items for their scavenger hunt.
6. Designate Window Signals
For those without texting capabilities, have them place a piece of green, yellow, or red paper in their window to signal. Green means good, yellow means I need something, and red is an emergency. Especially for the elderly, this can be a great way to be able to check up on them without having to make numerous phone calls.
7. Meet With Your Community for Cyber Prayer
Recently, a friend invited us to join a group for prayer via Zoom. We began by getting into a big group (over 20 people) to check in with one another. We then used the zoom small group feature to break off into small groups of four or five to pray. We reflected on a passage of scripture and did a short meditation on the scripture passage before once again rejoining the big group. The whole process lasted about forty-five minutes. The technology was easy to navigate and it was great to connect with other Christians and pray together. Until that experience, we didn’t even realize we were missing our community.
8. Donate Money
Many, many people are out of work right now and are hurting. Groceries can be difficult to find and be more expensive. If you are financially able, charities such as Catholic Charities can help tide people over until the economy picks back up. They work to give those needing help a hand up, not a hand out. Additionally, you can mail gift cards to specific people you know going through a hard time or simply drop off some groceries to help. Pregnancy resource centers also need donations. Don’t forget to support the parish you typically go to on Sundays as they still have bills to pay, priests to feed, and employees to pay (so they can feed their families).
Hopefully, this social distancing will be soon over. In the meantime, let’s love our neighbor from afar.