One beneficial aspect of a quieter life pace during this period of COVID-19 social distancing is the time it affords us for introspection and learning. During these weeks when we are almost exclusively at home, I’ve rediscovered my love for sitting in a quiet place with a good book. I’ve also spent about thirty minutes each day reading novels aloud to my parents over Alexa. I’m having fun voicing the various characters and discussing plot twists with Mom and Dad.
Of the many books I’ve read over the past two months, three stood out as great choices for active Catholic seniors. Each offers a unique message that feels particularly apt during a time when we are focusing on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
God Isn’t Finished with Me Yet
Barbara Lee, a practicing spiritual director and retired attorney and former U.S. magistrate judge penned God Isn’t Finished with Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life during the time of life when many seniors are taking to their recliners and staring at their televisions. I’m grateful to Barbara Lee for this wonderful resource that came to me at a perfect time in my life. As someone who has been wondering “what’s next?”–for my work, my relationships, my health and my soul–Barbara Lee pointed me in this concise book to so many helpful insights. Her insights on Ignatian spirituality and its applicability to discernment, an active prayer life, and personal recollection are especially appealing.
Choosing the Strong Path
Aging doesn’t have to mean resigning ourselves to infirmity. Shortly before we were required to stay home, my husband and I joined our local university’s recreation center and began making regular visits to the gym. I purchased the book Choosing the StrongPath: Reversing the Downward Spiral of Aging because I’d sadly noted my father’s radical decline in health over the past year as my mother’s Parkinson’s disease symptoms accelerated. Daddy went from being someone who regularly practiced the Royal Canadian Airforce Exercises every morning to a man who could barely walk to the corner of his block and back. In Choosing the StrongPath authors Fred Bartlit, Steven Droullard and Dr. Marni Boppart build the case for progressive strength training, offering safe and sane wisdom on exercise, nutrition, and health. Since we haven’t been able to go to the gym, this book has helped me commit to a daily home exercise regimen that I’m actually enjoying.
Five Loaves and Two Fish
It’s no doubt that discovering the little book Five Loaves and Two Fishes by Venerable Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan during our time of isolation was divine intervention. Cardinal Van Thuan, who was imprisoned, isolated and persecuted in Vietnam for many years, found the courage and inspiration to not only practice his faith during that time but also to risk his life to share it with others. One particular quote in his book reminded me to seek the little blessings in my life each day, even during this time of sadness and uncertainty. Cardinal Van Thuan wrote:“I must confront reality: I am in prison. If I wait for an opportune moment to do something truly great, how many times will such occasions actually present themselves? No, I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day. I must accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way.” This work reminded me that like the young boy in the gospel passage who offered Jesus his five loaves and two fish and witnessed them miraculously feed the five thousand, I do possess small gifts that when willingly offered to God can be graciously multiplied.
If you haven’t picked up a good book lately, take a visit to your bookshelf and pick up an old classic or visit your public library’s virtual offerings. Then see what insights the written word can offer you to help you not only survive, but thrive. Happy reading!