Many of us are experiencing a time of isolation and social distancing. You might also be experiencing being quarantined in your own house. Some of us might be feeling stir crazy. Some of us might be enjoying the time of having everything else shut down and just being at home with our families.
We hear in the psalm today, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. In verdant pastures He gives me repose. Beside restful waters He leads me. He refreshes my soul.” What I’d like to talk about is that whole notion of the word ‘repose.’ This is a time of repose for us. It’s an interesting word.
In the church, we repose the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday. We pray for the repose of souls. The true meaning of the word repose comes from the phrase ‘to pause’ or ‘to take a rest.’ I would suggest that during this time of the Coronavirus we allow it to be a time of repose, a time of pausing and resting from our normal busy lives.
In the dictionary, the definition of repose is a “state of resting after exertion or strain, especially rest in sleep.” With eternal or heavenly rest, we pray for the repose of a soul.
It could mean “a place of rest, peace, tranquility, harmony, a lack of activity, a cessation or absence of activity, of movement or animation.” In the verb form, it could mean “to be lying or situated or kept in a particular place.’ Any of that sound familiar?
I invite you to think of this as a time of repose. You, like the Blessed Sacrament, are being reposed in your homes. This can be a wonderful time for us of spiritual growth.
Though you are not able to be here to celebrate the Eucharist with us, I’m going to invite you during the Eucharist prayer to make a spiritual communion – to allow yourselves to be with us spiritually even though you can’t be physically here.
We also have this whole notion of repose as being a part of the sabbath. The third commandment is to keep holy the sabbath, and the actual phrasing is, “The seventh day is the sabbath of solemn rest, wholly unto the Lord.” I hope during this time you allow it to be a time of rest, a time when we’re not so frenzied by sports and by activities and by social things that we have to do, but a time to rest and retreat in your own home.
I’m sure you’ve heard the word “staycation” where you stay at home instead of taking a vacation somewhere else. I would invite you to let this be a praycation for you, just a time of prayer and rest away from everything else. Let this be a retreat for you and your families.
Even God rested. We hear, “In six days, God made heaven and earth, the sea and all that was in them, and rested on the seventh day.” Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath and holy days. Sunday is supposed to always be a time of rest for us, but maybe especially during this time of quarantine and this time of social distancing and isolation it can really be a time for you to rest.
It’s a key component of the Sabbath and of Sunday. If God rested and was refreshed on the seventh day, man ought to, too. We hear this in the Catechism. “This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
So, rest is one essential component of the Sabbath but also prayer. It’s supposed to be a time of prayer. You are just watching this now on the live stream. You’re allowing yourself to pray as we hear the word and receive spiritually the Sacrament, but I would encourage you to allow the rest of the day to be a time of prayer. Make this day holy. Do that with your families Do that with your children.
If you haven’t prayed with your families or your children in a while, maybe this is the time right now that God is calling you to. I invite fathers especially to be the leaders of prayer in your family – to be the one to gather your family together and to lead them in prayer. And mothers, too, to be like Mary to accompany your family during this time that may be uncertain or maybe scary.
I think the Lord has really given us a gift during this time of the Coronavirus. The gift I mean is some of this rest and sabbath that we wouldn’t otherwise have – a time for you to be the spiritual leaders of your family. Although the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, (we gather here most especially in the Eucharist), the primary church is the family home. That’s what the primary church is – you leading your family in the spiritual life in prayer, in Sabbath and in rest. I would just invite you to do that.
The Catechism continues to say that, “Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of mind, meditation, which furthers the growth of our spiritual and internal life.” Let Sunday be a retreat for you. As a matter of fact, let this whole time of isolation and quarantine be a retreat for you and your families. You will never, ever, ever have an opportunity like this again in your lives for a retreat like this.
Finally, the Catechism says, “In spite of economic constraints, public authority should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship.
So, let this be that time. Allow this to be a time of repose where your family is taken out of the world and reposed into your home. Let it be a time of rest. Let it be a time of delight. Let it be a time of playfulness. Let it be a time of prayer. Be the one who gathers your family together because I’m sure many are scared, many are frustrated, many are unsure. If we come together in repose, we come together in this holy silence and prayer, and it will transform this time and make it a holy season for all of us.
We can rejoice in this Laetare Sunday because not only is the end near, but we can enjoy this time, make it a holy time, make it a prayerful time, and make it a time of repose.