“... The son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)
Upon schools closing because of the COVID 19 pandemic, panic quickly set in. Fear of the unknown was looming over society as the future became very obscure. My household along with others planned for the worst by stocking up on food, water and other necessities.
I am by nature a paranoid person, so the coronavirus worried me a lot initially. The fear I experienced made me turn to my faith, and I prayed to God he would grant us all protection from the virus. I began to pray for my soul just in case the virus ever threatened my life. This time spent in prayer and reflection not only brought me closer to God, but it also taught me an important lesson about my own faith and mortality.
I was reminded by the threat posed by the coronavirus that I cannot reach out to God only in distress, but I need to constantly engage him in my life. It isn’t fair to only use God for our own needs, especially after he sent his son to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. After praying to God constantly at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I realized I needed to experience God more frequently in my life. I have tried to keep God at the forefront of my mind throughout the day in order to include him in all parts of my life.
I have also recognized the reason I haven't been consistent in my relationship with God is because material things in this world drew me away from him. I became far too comfortable in my normal day-to-day life, I would forget to include God in anything I did. The coronavirus did a good job of shaking up my ordinary routine, and it took away a lot of the things distracting me from God. For this I am thankful, and while I am not always perfect at keeping God present in my mind, I am making the effort to slowly but surely improve.
The coronavirus also showed me I am very afraid of dying. Of course, we should all have a natural fear of death, but I felt a sickening dread at being separated from this material world. COVID restrictions ripped away the pleasures of ordinary life I took for granted.
Through this I was shown how attached to certain luxuries I had become, and by losing them I feared I would never be able to experience them again. But in losing the material goods and luxuries I took for granted, I learned my fear of death was rooted in losing these things forever by moving on from this material world.
After realizing this, I noted I needed to focus less on the matters of this world and instead focus on the will of God. The luxuries had caused me to live a selfish lifestyle, without recognizing my mistake of being too attached to this world.
In order to mend this, I needed to die to self every day to properly prepare for death. I reminded myself through dying to myself, I would be putting others first even when I found it difficult. Even in trying times like these when our individual circumstances are already quite rough, it is necessary to still give of oneself for the sake of loving others.
I have learned we have to befriend Jesus Christ in the present so we can be ready for when he returns in the future. By dying to ourselves now and continuing to put others first even in difficult times, we prepare ourselves for death. We will make death more comfortable, and we will learn to anticipate joyfully the never-ending love God is ready to freely give us.
Gianni Squillace is a junior at Ozark Catholic Academy in Tontitown. He attends St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers.
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