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The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Made Me More Prayerful

By Monica Araneta Tiosejo

When I was a young girl, my grandmothertold me that every time I pray the Rosary, each bead becomes a rose that I offer to the Blessed Virgin. Afterward, I end up giving her a fragrant garden in full bloom. It sounded like a beautiful way to grow my faith, tending to it as one would flowers.

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Photo from freshrosary.com

My grandfather, on the other hand, taught me about meditation and humility, the roots and the soil, if you will. The Rosary started out as a corded band used by the monks of the early church and, with it, they would chant “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me” over and over again.

This quarantine has made me more prayerful. It’s been a time to meditate not only on the great mysteries of faith but on the unimaginable.

As a food writer, I never imagined I would write about these things, but as a Catholic, it seems like the intentions I set for the invocation to the muse and for the supplication to God are the same—to feed, to nourish, and to survive.

For Holy Week, I asked foodies what their “last supper” would be. How interesting that the Passion of Christ mirrors life today. Jesus was thought to be “infecting” people, who eventually distanced and “quarantined” themselves from him. When he finally stopped breathing, he was buried quickly because his death and corpse would have tainted the Passover. But all that happened in just one week, and Easter came.

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Titian’s 1558 Ancona Crucifixion’

It’s been a few weeks since Easter Sunday, but many are still feeling nailed down—by fear, by anxiety, by the coronavirus itself. There is no shortage of nails. In art, the crucifixion as a subject matter was intended to foster insight on sacrifice, hence, the bleeding wounds, the bowed head, or sometimes, the crying out to the Father. Somehow, Jesus took something sad and turned it into a victory, an invitation for all of us to live a happy life despite pain and suffering. Beside the cross, you find Mama Mary, who to this day helps us follow in her son’s footsteps. Because of her, the path that was paved with precious blood is now lined with rose petals.

It is through my faith that I can imagine a beautiful death. There is a bed of roses for me in the Garden of Eden. Otherwise, life is like a crown of thorns or a cross, universal metaphors for the reality of human suffering. These days, I catch myself staring at the crucifix, contemplating suffering. I am careful not to romanticize it, but silver linings are getting harder to come by.

I am grateful for the frontliners. I pray for them. I wish I had the money to make sure they are taken care of properly, but I give what I can. In my mind’s eye, the healthcare workers dressed in white PPEs are angels, but not like those chubby cherubs with the tousled hair, symbols of childhood innocence. Instead, they are like archangels, particularly Saint Michael, God’s warrior. Often depicted with a sword, Saint Michael, whose name means “like God,” is the protector of good and the destroyer of evil.

As a food writer, I never imagined I would write about these things, but as a Catholic, it seems like the intentions I set for the invocation to the muse and for the supplication to God are the same—to feed, to nourish, and to survive.

I am no healthcare worker, but as a writer, with a pen as my sword, how can I do God’s work? The only answer I have right now is to create as He, Creator, creates, and to take it day by day. May He consider what I make to be good.

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In a historic first, the pope said prayers to an empty Saint Peter’s Square (AFP Photo/YARA NARDI)

Currently, I am trying to look for good news. The Manila Bulletin likes to look on the bright side, always. Honestly, it’s been tough. I do not expect health from a world that is sick, but I did not expect so much death either.

Energetically, grief hits the lungs. I remember when my grandfather died, I couldn’t breathe. The lungs receive air and let go. Letting go is the most painful lesson I have ever learned. In this pandemic, I have to grieve life as I knew it. Many are grieving, too, and the lungs are more delicate now than ever. The air is not fresh, but it is still filled with hope. Don’t hold your breath waiting for life to go back to normal. If you can’t go outside, go inside, that is, within. There is a garden where you can stop and smell the roses.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/05/the-coronavirus-pandemic-has-made-me-more-prayerful/)

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