Marriage & Family Life: Remember the Lessons of the Pandemic
by Adam Storey | February 22, 2021
Recently I have been thinking about the story of the unclean spirit, who after leaving an afflicted person, returns later and brings back seven other spirits, making the new condition worse than before (Matthew 12:43-45).
This struck me because in some ways I think the pandemic has cast out certain unclean spirits that once infected my family life. It has forced me to pause from the constant busyness that I often seek out, and instead replace that with more games and books with my children, more one-on-one time with my wife, more time to complete some of those home repairs on my years-old list.
The pandemic has disrupted my illusions of control and has drawn me outside of my narrow focus of my own agendas and myself. I have felt like our family life, if not our kitchen floor, could be described as “empty, swept clean, and put in order” (Matthew 12:44).
This spring, as vaccines are becoming more accessible and the pandemic is slowly starting to abate, our family has started to refill that once empty space. While it’s a great relief to see hope on the horizon, I also want to make sure I do not refill my life with the same stuff as before, or even new, more harmful things.
I must continually be on guard not to fill the void with distractions, such as social media or the news, outlets I often use to avoid doing God’s will in the present moment.
Now that we are back in Lent (it feels like we never left!), my family is trying to focus on filling our lives with the things that truly bring peace and joy. This year my family has grown in prayer, in rest, and in just enjoying each other’s company.
I hope my family will remember and benefit from all our time together, and be intentional about keeping it in the future. I hope we will remember the quiet and choose it again even when we do not have to, or want to. I hope our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit, so that there is no longer any space for unclean spirits or his friends. It will be a work in progress for sure, imperfectly lived, and yet there is hope!
As we emerge from the pandemic, it will be tempting to think we can finally get back to the important things. Pope Francis reminds us that marriage and family life are the most important things we can all attend to, with the love in our homes being “a perennial source of strength for the life of the Church” (Amoris Laetitia 88).
No matter what the last year has looked like for you, this Lent let’s all pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to waste more time together with our families, even when we don’t have to!