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In the fall we tend to get back to business. School is back in swing. Activities have found their places on the calendar. This year, the sense of settling back in feels a little lost. It’s hard to plan right now in every area of our lives including work, school and family life. It sometimes feels overwhelming, and at other times like we just have to figure it out and make it work. There’s unemployment, unique job demands, extended family members’ needs and juggling kids with careers…“challenging” doesn’t seem like an adequate word to fully describe what families may be experiencing at this time. 

Getting back to business this year feels more like putting together a patchwork quilt. Families are stitching together all these odd pieces of their old way of life (school, sports, Mass, etc.) with the pieces that are the “new normal” (masks, social distancing, virtual learning components, etc.) and trying to make sense of it. We’re dropping you this note to encourage you and remind you that you’re not alone. We’ve put together some inspiration and ideas to help as we transition to an unknown fall. 

One way to find encouragement and motivation is to reflect on sacred Scripture. Pick one verse for the day and read it slowly. Reflect on what God is saying to you through those words. Below you’ll see some verses to get you started, along with some additional ideas or thoughts you may find helpful.  

As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

(Joshua 24:15)

Pray together as a family and keep Christ at the center of your household. Whenever we put God first, everything else (including the madness of these times) falls into place. One tangible way to do this is to continue to keep the Lord’s day holy. We are called to make Sunday different from the rest of the week, even with the dispensation to attend public worship still in place. One way we can do this is by participating in Mass as a family. From home you can watch a livestream Mass from your parish, on TV, or virtually “visit” a different one. Help your family adjust to the unique environment with some specific ideas for viewing Mass at home. You can also attend Mass in person; contact your parish with any questions, concerns or to learn about the current protocols. 

52 Sundays offers many ideas for how families can reclaim the Sabbath with prayers, activities and food. You can also check your parish bulletin or website to see ways you can connect with your parish on Sunday and throughout the week.

Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others.

(Colossians 3:23)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:58)

Many of us are facing another round of challenges and responsibilities this fall—adapting to new school routines and requirements, continuing to make time and space for work, managing interpersonal dynamics within the family, etc. While this can be overwhelming, God knows what we are going through. We can turn to him and ask him to provide us with the grace and the strength we need for whatever situation we are in right now.  

We are invited to carry out these responsibilities as if we are serving God himself by remaining steadfast in our efforts. From the mundane tasks to the unexpected interruptions, God accompanies us, and we can take comfort in knowing we are not alone. God also can speak to our hearts through other people, so do not hesitate to ask for help from others. 

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

(1 Peter 4:8)

St. John Paull II describes the command to love as the desire for the good of others. Be patient and exercise love toward your co-workers, teachers, catechists, your spouse and your children. Be patient with yourself too. Nothing about this fall is perfect, and we are all adjusting and adapting in our own ways. Try to make the love of God and others the central motivation for every response and every choice you make. Allow others—and yourself—to make mistakes, and don’t be afraid to change your plans if something isn’t working for you anymore. 

The role of the family is to “guard, reveal and communicate love.” No matter the circumstance, you are capable of doing that this fall. As you stitch together your own family’s “quilt,” let God’s love cover you and your family in this challenging time. The spaces between your hand-stitched patches and pieces may look unfinished, but those cracks and spaces will let the light of Christ shine through and hold us together at the same time. You are not alone—not now, not ever.