LORT3 – Frodo’s Quest: Embracing Life’s Challenges – A Lord of the Rings Spiritual Retreat w/ Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Frodo’s Quest: Embracing Life’s Challenges – A Lord of the Rings Spiritual Retreat w/ Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher In this episode, Father Timothy Gallagher discusses the spiritual and personal growth lessons that can be drawn from the character of Frodo in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”. Host Kris McGregor and Father Gallagher explore how Frodo’s journey and struggles with the responsibility of the ring mirror our own challenges in life.

Father Gallagher emphasizes that, like Frodo, we often feel ill-equipped for the tasks or challenges God places before us. Frodo’s initial reluctance and feeling of being ‘too small’ for such a perilous quest is a sentiment shared by many biblical figures and ordinary people alike. However, Gandalf’s role in Frodo’s journey symbolizes the presence of God’s grace, assuring us that we are never alone in our struggles and that we have been chosen for our tasks for a reason.

The conversation also touches upon the theme of free will and the importance of the choices we make. Gandalf’s faithfulness, in contrast to the betrayal of other characters like Saruman, shows the significant impact our decisions have in the world. The podcast highlights that while we may feel overwhelmed and unprepared for the challenges we face, with faith and support, we are capable of extraordinary things.

Overall, the episode delves into the deeper meanings behind Tolkien’s characters and narrative, drawing parallels between Frodo’s journey and our own spiritual and personal challenges, reminding listeners of the strength and heroism inherent in even the most ordinary of people.


He went to the window and drew aside the curtains and the shutters. Sunlight streamed back again into the room. Sam passed along the path outside whistling. ‘And now,’ said the wizard, turning back to Frodo, ‘the decision lies with you. But I will always help you.’ He laid his hand on Frodo’s shoulder. ‘I will help you bear this burden, as long as it is yours to bear. But we must do something, soon. The Enemy is moving.’

There was a long silence. Gandalf sat down again and puffed at his pipe, as if lost in thought. His eyes seemed closed, but under the lids he was watching Frodo intently. Frodo gazed fixedly at the red embers on the hearth, until they filled all his vision, and he seemed to be looking down into profound wells of fire. He was thinking of the fabled Cracks of Doom and the terror of the Fiery Mountain.

‘Well!’ said Gandalf at last. ‘What are you thinking about? Have you decided what to do?’

‘No!’ answered Frodo, coming back to himself out of darkness, and finding to his surprise that it was not dark, and that out of the window he could see the sunlit garden. ‘Or perhaps, yes. As far as I understand what you have said, I suppose I must keep the Ring and guard it, at least for the present, whatever it may do to me.’

‘Whatever it may do, it will be slow, slow to evil, if you keep it with that purpose,’ said Gandalf.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (pp. 61-62). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life: The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”.

For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit his website: frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page


Discerning Hearts Reflection questions for this episode:

Reflecting on the themes discussed in the podcast “Frodo’s Quest: Embracing Life’s Challenges – A Lord of the Rings Spiritual Retreat” with Fr. Timothy Gallagher, here are some study questions for reflection:

  1. Relating to Personal Challenges: How do Frodo’s feelings of being ‘too small’ and unprepared for his quest reflect our own feelings when faced with life’s challenges? Can you recall a time when you felt similarly and how you overcame it?
  2. Understanding God’s Grace: Gandalf’s role in Frodo’s journey is seen as a symbol of God’s grace. How does this compare to your understanding of God’s support in your life? Can you identify moments where you felt a similar form of guidance or support?
  3. Free Will and Decision Making: In what ways do the choices made by Frodo and other characters in “The Lord of the Rings” mirror the importance of our own decisions in life? Can you think of a decision you made that had a significant impact on your life or on others?
  4. Embracing the Unknown: Frodo accepts his quest despite uncertainty and fear. How does this relate to the way we, as individuals, are called to embrace our own life’s missions, even when the path is not clear?
  5. Finding Strength in Ordinary People: The podcast highlights the heroism in ordinary people, like Frodo. How does this perspective change the way you view your own potential and the potential of those around you?
  6. Reflection on Spiritual Growth: How do the themes and characters in “The Lord of the Rings” encourage you to reflect on your own spiritual journey? Are there specific aspects of your faith or spiritual life that resonate with Frodo’s journey?
  7. Interpreting Gandalf’s Advice: Reflect on Gandalf’s statement, “I will help you bear this burden, as long as it is yours to bear.” How can this be interpreted in the context of your own life challenges and the support you receive?
  8. The Role of Community in Overcoming Challenges: Frodo’s journey is not a solitary one; he is supported by a community. How important is community in your spiritual life and in facing life’s challenges?

Here’s a brief summary of each timestamped section from the podcast:

  • 00:00: Introduction to the episode featuring Father Timothy Gallagher discussing a spiritual retreat themed around “The Lord of the Rings”, hosted by Kris McGregor.
  • 01:04 – 01:05: Father Gallagher responds to Kris McGregor’s welcome.
  • 01:05 – 01:16: Kris McGregor sets the topic of discussion, asking Father Gallagher to elaborate on the character of Frodo from “The Lord of the Rings”.
  • 01:16 – 02:19: Father Gallagher begins his analysis of Frodo, focusing on Gandalf’s revelation to Frodo about being chosen to possess the ring and the challenges it brings.
  • 02:19 – 03:23: Discussion about Frodo learning there’s no easy way to destroy the ring, and the need for him to accept a difficult path as part of a divine design.
  • 03:23 – 04:20: Father Gallagher elaborates on how Frodo’s feelings of inadequacy and reluctance reflect common human experiences when faced with daunting tasks.
  • 04:20 – 05:30: Gandalf’s advice to Frodo is analyzed, emphasizing the notion that being chosen for a task is not due to inherent superiority but for fulfilling a specific role.
  • 05:30 – 06:33: Comparison of Frodo’s situation with biblical figures like Gideon and Peter, highlighting the theme of humility and being chosen despite feeling inadequate.
  • 06:33 – 07:29: Father Gallagher quotes from Corinthians to emphasize how God often chooses the seemingly weak or foolish for important tasks.
  • 07:29 – 08:35: The discussion shifts to understanding one’s own strengths and using them, regardless of how inadequate they might seem, in fulfilling their calling.
  • 08:35 – 09:36: The concept of individual freedom and divine support is discussed, with Gandalf’s assurance of help to Frodo serving as an example.
  • 09:36 – 10:34: Gandalf’s role as an embodiment of grace and divine guidance is analyzed, along with the free will to choose one’s path.
  • 10:34 – 11:42: Explanation of Gandalf’s origins as one of the wizards sent to Middle-earth, and his role in the larger context of the story.
  • 11:42 – 12:42: Further exploration of the wizards in “The Lord of the Rings”, including Saruman’s betrayal and its consequences.
  • 12:42 – 13:48: Examination of the various fates and roles of the five wizards sent to Middle-earth and their impact on the story.
  • 13:48 – 17:12: The importance of Gandalf’s faithfulness and the broader implications of choices made by characters in the story are discussed.
  • 17:12 – 17:53: Kris McGregor reflects on how the story of Frodo and Gandalf’s guidance offers insights into personal growth and the impact of our choices.
  • 17:53 – 19:55: Father Gallagher continues discussing the consequences of choices made by characters in “The Lord of the Rings” and their parallels in real life.
  • 19:55 – 20:57: The theme of mutual support and the importance of community in the spiritual journey is explored.
  • 20:57 – 22:08: Frodo’s contemplation of his task and the realization that he may need to leave his home is discussed.
  • 22:08 – 23:00: The podcast delves into Frodo’s acceptance of his journey, despite his fears and uncertainties.
  • 23:00 – 24:04: Gandalf’s reassurance to Frodo about not being alone in his journey and the unexpected courage that emerges in challenging times.
  • 24:04 – 25:00: Frodo’s sudden desire to find Bilbo and his internal struggle with the task at hand are highlighted.
  • 25:00 – 26:09: Gandalf’s admiration for hobbits’ resilience and their ability to surprise even in difficult circumstances.
  • 26:09 – 27:10: Tolkien’s description of hobbits and their characteristics is discussed, highlighting their unexpected heroism.
  • 27:10 – 28:11: Analysis of hobbits’ small stature as a literary device to showcase the heroism of ordinary people.
  • 28:11 – 28:24: Kris McGregor comments on learning about oneself through the characters of “The Lord of the Rings”.
  • 28:24 – 28:29: Father Gallagher agrees, noting the rich applicability of the story to personal growth and understanding.
  • 28:29 – 28:31: Closing remarks by Kris McGregor and Father Gallagher.

 

From the Revelations of Divine Peace – St. Gertrude the Great from the Office of Readings – Discerning Hearts Podcast

From the Revelations of Divine Peace of St Gertrude

Image is from SanctifiedSouls on Etsy; used with permission. Visit their shop  for this image and more: etsy.com/shop/SanctifiedSouls

May my soul bless you, O Lord God my Creator, may my soul bless you. From the very core of my being may all your merciful gifts sing your praise. Your generous care for your daughter has been rich in mercy; indeed it has been immeasurable, and as far as I am able I give you thanks. I praise and glorify your great patience which bore with me even though, from my infancy and childhood, youth and early womanhood, until I was nearly twenty-six, I was always so blindly irresponsible. Looking back I see that but for your protecting hand I would have been quite without conscience in thought, word or deed. But you came to my aid by giving me a natural dislike of evil and a natural delight in what is good, and provided me with necessary correction from those among whom I lived. Otherwise I should now have to admit to doing my own will whenever the opportunity offered itself, living like some pagan in a pagan society, and never understanding that you, my God, reward good deeds while punishing evil. Yet you had chosen me to be specially trained to serve you. I was a child of five when I began to live in a convent surrounded by your most devoted friends.

`To make amends for the way I previously lived, I offer you, most loving Father, all the sufferings of your beloved Son, from that first infant cry as he lay on the hay in the manger, until that final moment when, bowing his head, with a mighty voice, Christ gave up his spirit. I think, as I make this offering, of all that he underwent, his needs as a baby, his dependence as a young child, the hardships of youth and the trials of early manhood.
  To atone for all my neglect I offer, most loving Father, all that your only begotten Son did during his life, whether in thought, word or deed. That sacred life was, I know, utterly perfect in all respects, from the moment he descended from your heavenly throne and came into this world, until finally he presented the glory of his victorious human nature to you, his Father.
  And now, as an act of thanksgiving, I praise and worship you, Father, in deepest humility for your most loving kindness and mercy. Though I was hurrying to my eternal loss, your thoughts of me were thoughts of peace and not of affliction, and you lifted me up with so many great favours. To these you added the inestimable gift of your intimate friendship, and in various ways allowed me to possess your Son’s own heart, that most noble ark of God united with the Godhead. You refused me no delight that could be mine.
  Finally, you drew me to yourself by your faithful promises of the good things you would give me from the hour of my death. So great are these promises that for their sake alone, even if you had given me nothing besides, my heart would sigh for you always and be filled with a lively hope.
Let us pray.
Lord God, you made the heart of Saint Gertrude
  a dwelling-place of your love.
Lighten our darkness
  so that, through her intercession,
  we may experience the joy of your presence in our hearts.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

 

The Guardian Angels – St Bernard of Clairvaux from the Office of Readings – Discerning Hearts Podcast

From a sermon of St Bernard of Clairvaux

He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. Let them thank the Lord for his mercy; his wonderful works are for the children of men. Let them give thanks and say among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them. O Lord, what is man that you have made yourself known to him, or why do you incline your heart to him? And you do incline your heart to him; you show him your care and your concern. Finally, you send your only Son and the grace of your Spirit, and promise him a vision of your countenance. And so, that nothing in heaven should be wanting in your concern for us, you send those blessed spirits to serve us, assigning them as our guardians and our teachers.
  He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instil confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need.
  So let us be devoted and grateful to such great protectors; let us return their love and honour them as much as we can and should. Yet all our love and honour must go to him, for it is from him that they receive all that makes them worthy of our love and respect.
  We should then, my brothers, show our affection for the angels, for one day they will be our co-heirs just as here below they are our guardians and trustees appointed and set over us by the Father. We are God’s children although it does not seem so, because we are still but small children under guardians and trustees, and for the present little better than slaves.
  Even though we are children and have a long, a very long and dangerous way to go, with such protectors what have we to fear? They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray. They are loyal, prudent, powerful. Why then are we afraid? We have only to follow them, stay close to them, and we shall dwell under the protection of God’s heaven.
Let us pray.
Lord God,
  in your all-wise providence you send angels to guard and protect us.
Surround us with their watchful care on earth,
  and give us the joy of their company for ever in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

 

In the Heart of the Church I will be Love – Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus from the Office of Readings

From the autobiography of St Theresa of the Child Jesus, virgin

(Manuscrits autobiographiques, Lisieux 1957, 227-229)

In the heart of the church I will be love

Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St. Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.

I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: “Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others.” For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.

When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.

Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.

Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

 

St. Hildegard von Bingen Novena – Day 4


Day 4img_69492-715x1024

St. Hildegard you have said:

Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around Him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honour. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.

 

O glorious St. Hildegard, abbess of the order of St. Benedict and doctor of the universal Church, we now join in the prayer you taught us….

God is the foundation for everything
This God undertakes, God gives.
Such that nothing that is necessary for life is lacking.
Now humankind needs a body that at all times honors and praises God.
This body is supported in every way through the earth.
Thus the earth glorifies the power of God.

O God, by whose grace your servant Hildegard, kindled with the Fire of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
St. Hildegard von Bingen, pray for us

For the Discerning Hearts 9-Day Novena to St. Hildegard von Bingen page

Musical excerpt: Ave generosa, by Hildegard von Bingen (1089 – 1179)
Laurence Ewashko, conductor
30 January 2000, St. Matthew’s Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
http://www.cantatasingersottawa.ca/listen.php

Day 1 – A Novena for the Annunciation – Mp3 audio and text podcast

Day 1: Mary, Full of Grace

From the Gospel according to Luke 1:28

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary. The Angel came to her and said, Rejoice, Full of Grace! 

Let us pray:
Almighty Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we thank You for bestowing upon Your highly favored daughter all the graces to be Your Son’s Mother and to be the Mother of all. We thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to be our redeemer and savior. Thank You for giving us the breath of life and the splendor of Your creations. We thank You, Father, our Lord, and our God, for Your infinite kindness and mercy. How good You are to us, your children. We praise you and worship you, with Your Son, Jesus Christ, and his Mother Mary, our intercessor. To You, we owe everything. We acknowledge humbly that without You, we are nothing. Receive our gratitude and our undying adoration and devotion. We will try to reciprocate Your loving kindness by obeying Your commandments, by loving our neighbors and by earnestly endeavoring to become more like Your Son. We shall continuously affirm Your lordship and celebrate Your goodness and kindness all the days of our life.
Amen.

Jesus, for our salvation You willingly humbled Yourself, becoming Man in the womb of the Virgin Mother, grant me through the mystery of Your holy Incarnation the virtue of humility that I may ever please God as Your Mother did, by meekness and lowliness in this world, and be exalted by You in eternity.

Mary, dear Mother of my Savior, I greet you and I thank you for having received the message of the Archangel Gabriel: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee” (Luke I:28) and for having answered with your consent, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) Intercede for me that God the Father, who accepted you as His Daughter and the Mother of His Son because of your humility at the Annunciation, may accept me as His humble child. Amen

 

BTP-IC26 – Sixth Mansions Chapter 6 part 3 – The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles Podcast

In this episode, Dr. Lilles discusses the Sixth Mansions Chapter 6 part 3  of the “Interior Castle” which covers:

DESCRIBES AN EFFECT WHICH PROVES THE PRAYER SPOKEN OF IN THE LAST CHAPTER TO BE GENUINE AND NO DECEPTION, TREATS OF ANOTHER FAVOUR OUR LORD BESTOWS ON THE SOUL TO MAKE IT PRAISE HIM FERVENTLY.

1. The soul longs for death. 2. The soul cannot help desiring these favours. 3. St. Teresa bewails her inability to serve God. 3. Fervour resulting from ecstasies. 5. Excessive desires to see God should be restrained. 6. They endanger health. 7. Tears often come from Physical causes. 8. St. Teresa’s own experience. 9. Works, not tears, are asked by God. 10. Confide entirely in God. 11. The jubilee of the soul. 12. Impossibility of concealing this joy. 13. The world’s judgment of this jubilee. 14. Which is often felt by the nuns of St. Joseph’s. 15. The Saint’s delight in this jubilee.

For the Discerning Hearts audio recording of the “Interior Castle” by St. Teresa of Avila  you can visit here


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregorFor other audio recordings of various spiritual classics you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page

For other episodes in the series visit
The Discerning Hearts “The Interior Castle with Dr. Anthony Lilles”

Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.

 

HR31 The Life of St. Benedict – “Easter Day” – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict w/ Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B

“The Life of St. Benedict pt 2”

We continue our conversation on the life of St. Benedict by using the biography penned by St. Gregory the Great. In this episode, St. Benedict is visited by a priest on Easter Sunday morning in the cave and is called from his seclusion.

From the Life of Our Most Holy Father St. Benedict by St. Gregory the Great:

Catholic Devotional Prayers and Novenas - Mp3 Audio Downloads and Text 1
Now when it pleased Almighty God that Romanus should rest from his labors and that the life of Benedict should be manifest to the world for an example to all men, that the candle set upon a candlestick might shine and give light to the whole Church of God, our Lord vouchsafed to appear to a certain Priest living far off, who had to make ready his dinner for Easter Day, saying to him: “Thou hast prepared good cheer for thyself, and My servant in such a place is famished for hunger.” Who presently rose, and on the solemn day of Easter went towards the place with such meat as he had provided for himself, were seeking the man of God, amongst craggy rocks, winding valleys and hollow pits he found him hid in a cave. Then after prayers, and blessing the Almighty Lord, they sat down, and after some spiritual discourse, the Priest said: “Rise, and let us take our refection, for this is Easter Day.” To whom the man of God answered: “I know it is Easter because I have found so much favor as to see thee.” (For not having a long time conversed with men, he did not know it was Easter Day.) The good Priest did therefore again affirm it, saying: “Truly this is the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, and therefore it is not fit that you should keep abstinence, and for this cause I am sent that we may eat together that which Almighty God hath bestowed on us.” Whereupon blessing God, they fell to their meat. Their discourse and dinner ended; the Priest returned to his Church.

Father Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., did his philosophical, theological, and doctoral studies in Europe. He is the author of several books and directs retreats regularly. He serves as Prior at Sant’Anselmo in Rome. For more information about the ministry of the Missionary Benedictines of Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, Ne

Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement Online Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher!!!


Join Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor in this special Discerning Hearts Video Podcast as they discuss the effects of the novel Coronavirus Global Pandemic. Fr. Gallagher offers ten spiritual counsels to help us spiritually through this time.

Ten Spiritual Counsels in a Time of Covid-19

1. This trial is a spiritual opportunity. Many holy men and women found God more deeply in time of loss, pain, and struggle. Live this time as a special opportunity for spiritual growth.

2. These days teach us that we are not in control, and that God is, a powerful and healing lesson for all of life (Mt 5:3).

3. This time, with busyness reduced, offers a priceless opportunity to reflect on our lives, why we are here, what matters most, the people in our lives. Reflect in this way: it will pay rich dividends.

4. These weeks offer increased time to be with each other, our spouses, children, parents, and all the important people in our lives. Spend more time with them, and the relationships that matter most in your life will be blessed.

5. These anxious days are a time for small, daily, warm, concrete gestures of caring for others: a helping hand, a phone call, a text, an email, an errand done for another, a listening ear. Look for such opportunities and respond.

6. “Consolation must now be everyone’s commitment” (Pope Francis). Be a presence that brings consolation to the worried, the ill, the lonely, the afraid.

7. Follow online the daily words of Pope Francis. He speaks with wisdom, warmth, and faith about this situation. In this way, you will live these days with the universal Church.

8. In God’s timing, this struggle coincides with Lent. You have more time, and there is greater need now to live it well. Make this a special Lent. Choose how you will live it.

9. Pray, pray, pray. Spend 15 minutes each day in some form of meditation—you have the time. It might be lectio divina, Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, Ignatian meditation or contemplation of Scripture . . . whatever way best helps you to pray. Pope Benedict writes: “Prayer is the school of hope.”

10. Turn to our Blessed Mother in a new and deeper way. In time of struggle, the Church always turns to her because “Never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your intercession, or sought your help, was left unaided” (the Memorare).