March 23, 2020-
From Catholic Deacon Bill Ditewig:
“The word we’re using so frequently now, “quarantine,” can perhaps help us make some sense of this present moment. “Quarantine” derives from the Latin (and then Italian) word for “forty.”
By the mid-17th Century, it was associated both with the forty days of Lent but also with something completely different. Ships arriving from foreign ports to ports such as Venice would be forced to remain offshore for forty days to make sure they were not carriers of plague or other illnesses. Only later did “quarantine” come to mean any period of enforced isolation. The original meaning revolved around those forty days… It is here that perhaps our current reality can piece all of this together.
Lent is, in truth, a quarantine. It is a period of forty days in which we forsake our normal ways of doing things in order to prepare for the new life of Easter. We endure isolation and discomfort during this quarantine, not simply for the good of our physical health, but our spiritual health as well. This quarantine, we hope, gives us a chance to eliminate the disease of sin in our lives, and it helps us grow stronger and ready to meet the demands of living as the “priests, prophets, and kings” our baptisms have called us to be.
In and through baptism, we have been immersed into the life of the Trinity, which means we too must live as the Trinity lives: by giving life to others and providing for them (God the Father), by pouring out our own lives for others (God the Son), and for advocating for and enflaming others with the love of God (God the Spirit). That’s quite a task, and it demands that we be in good shape to carry it out! That’s the purpose of Lent; that’s the purpose of our spiritual quarantine – to rid us of the disease of sin and grow in spiritual health.
During this time of quarantine, we pray for all who are suffering from the Coronavirus and their families. During this time of quarantine, we pray for those who are suffering from its long-term effects, such as those who have lost their jobs or other fallout from this crisis. During this time of quarantine, may we seek healing on every level so that, once strengthened on every level, we may enter into our new Easter life with joy and enthusiasm.