[REFLECTIONS] Turning the coronavirus crisis into opportunity

Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB

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[REFLECTIONS] Turning the coronavirus crisis into opportunity
A spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, gives us a piece of advice to overcome negative emotions: Live in the now
It’s a first in world history: an online Holy Week for millions of people, even in Vatican City, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rappler presents a series of reflections to help you, our reader, enter the spirit of Holy Week even in quarantine. Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB, originally wrote the following reflection for her religious order’s priory magazine Conversatio. Rappler is republishing this with her permission in observance of Holy Week 2020. I write this as we are on community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. When you come to think of it, this is the first time in history that all nations are fighting one common enemy, and they are using the same methods of lockdown and community quarantine, which have emptied the streets all over the world, and stopped all money-making industries and businesses, vice den operations such as gambling and prostitution, and all public entertainment activities. I don’t think at any time was there a suspension of the public celebration of Holy Mass for such a length of time. I also don’t hear any crime stories being reported on TV. Families have never been together for so long. All these never happened before – not during the Black Plague, the Spanish flu, the Ebola epidemic, the AIDS scare, the Dengue infection, etc. Isn’t it awesome that an invisible little virus can cause the whole world to grind to a halt? So there must be some meaning to this. God is telling us something. Shall we learn something from it? Will there be a significant change in the way people will behave, will relate to each other, will do business? I don’t know. We just have to wait, I guess. I suppose it is human to feel anxiety, fear, and for some actual depression at a time like this. A spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, gives us a piece of advice to overcome these negative emotions: LIVE IN THE NOW. Yes, actually for most of you while reading this article, you are not facing actual danger. Our anxiety is for the future, prompted by thoughts of what if? What if? What if? But just like when we were students, our anxiety was all before the test, but when actually taking the test, our anxiety has disappeared, the same thing is true of this crisis. When the future becomes now, you can survive it! This is the time when we should have faith in what we have often read in the Bible:

Cast your care upon the Lord and he will support you! Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will refresh you! Take courage, I have overcome the world!

Meanwhile, realizing that CRISIS also means OPPORTUNITY, let us turn this coronavirus crisis into an opportunity:
  1. to have more time for God, for solitude and contemplation
  2. to have more interaction with the members of our communities and for families with each other
  3. to develop self-discipline and communal discipline, which we are now forced to practice out of necessity to avoid the spread of the virus.
  4. to develop better health and hygienic habits which we have acquired since the beginning of this crisis
  5. to make order with our clutter and discover many unused things we could give away
  6. to develop and exercise compassion for the poor and needy
Let us pray and fast, for as Scripture says there are things that can only be gotten rid of by prayer and fasting. Be well. – Rappler.com Sister Mary John Mananzan, a Missionary Benedictine sister, is former president of Saint Scholastica’s College in Manila. An activist nun, she holds a doctorate in philosophy, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Here are other Reflections:  

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