Choosing Faith Over Fear in Time of Hardship
A review of Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest by Teresa Tomeo
+JMJ+ I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached a point in the current coronavirus pandemic situation where I’m feeling like “the engine that can’t.” In the beginning, when we were first alerted to the severity of the virus and business and churches started closing and people started going into isolation, I was certainly overwhelmed but I also felt more like “the engine that could.” I naively thought that the panic would quickly die down and life would go back to normal. Due to being in the high risk category because of my heart condition (as well as our daughter’s heart condition), my family and I haven’t gone much of anywhere over the past couple months.
In addition to feeling worn out and just “done” with this situation, many people are also finding themselves becoming increasingly depressed, myself included. Some days are easier than others especially when it comes to feeling optimistic about the future and being able to find God in the present moment. Many of us are doing our best to recognize God’s “glimmers of grace” each day but, at the same time, the added worry and stress has all but sucked the life out of us. We’re all missing something. Some of us are tired of not being able to visit and hug our loved ones, tired of being separated from our parish families and from the sacraments, tired of masks, and tired of not being able to engage in our usual activities. Whatever we’re missing, no matter what situation we are in, we can all use some HOPE and inspiration to help encourage us forward. Teresa Tomeo’s newest book Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest provides that and so much more!
For starters, Teresa herself is nothing short of inspirational. She wrote this book as she was grieving the death of her mother, Rosie, who passed away (not COVID19 related) on March 19th on the feast day of St. Joseph. As I was reading, it quickly became clear to me that Teresa allowed God to use her grief to speak through her in order to help this struggling world. This book has something for everyone no matter what your state in life.
I can’t stress this enough: this book is such an uplifting read! I promise that, each time you pick it up, you will put it down (if you can put it down) feeling reassured, refreshed, and ready to take on whatever challenges you may be facing. Teresa addresses the current pandemic with refreshing honestly and there’s no exaggerating, no conspiracy theories, and none of this “Doomsday” outlook we are hearing so often from the media. This book acknowledges the challenges of these times but, more than anything, Teresa points out the positive things that have arisen as a result of this pandemic. This book is all about keeping the FAITH and holding onto HOPE.
Teresa’s tributes to her mother are beautiful and endearing! While losing a loved one is difficult at any time is indescribably painful, this is an especially difficult time to lose a loved one (whether or not their death is virus-related). Teresa shares the ways in which God revealed His great love, mercy, and grace to her especially in the days following her mother’s death. For those of you who know me, you probably know that these little revelations, moments of joy, light, and consolation, are what I like to call God’s “glimmers of grace."
There are so many people living in pain but, throughout the course of this book, Teresa reminds us that God is with us always even in the darkness. He loves us more than we can imagine and our world needs to know of this love. He is using this pandemic to call us back to Himself! He’s calling us to turn to Him and to one another. We are being called to love Him and to love one another. As far as I’m concerned, this pandemic is bringing out either the best or the worst of people (if you’re not sure what I mean, just browse around social media for a little bit). Thankfully, there are a lot of people who are allowing God to use them to show His love during this difficult time. Rarely have we seen so much outward love and compassion being shown to one another! Throughout the book, Teresa shares many heartwarming stories of various (often ordinary) individuals who have displayed Christian example by performing works of mercy through random acts of kindness. There are few things that evoke more hope than stories of people acting as Christ’s hands and feet here on earth!
Teresa recognizes that, because the sacraments are widely unavailable in most places, many of us are experiencing a spiritual hunger. Catholics (including me) are desperately missing Our Lord! We long to receive Him – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! As painful as this separation is, we should not let this longing go to waste. This is an opportunity for a renewal of faith! Sometimes, we don’t realize just what we’re missing until it’s been taken away. Teresa encourages her readers to make the most out of our separation from the Eucharist while making recommendations for overcoming the fears we are all sure to face at one time or another. Some of the suggestions she makes for helping us to grow in our faith include: putting God first, studying and meditating on Scripture more frequently, praying more, spending less time with technology, and keeping a special journal where you write down the ways in which God is working in your life.
The chapters of this book are short and so they are easy to get through. Each chapter ends with questions for personal reflection that will help with your own faith journey and lead to greater personal growth. These reflective questions helped me tremendously and opened my mind and heart to God’s presence in my life and gave me a lot to think about and consider. The reflections helped to bring me “out of myself” and out of the bubble I’ve started to live in.
The last two chapters of the book include various resources including prayers (some of them basic prayers such as the Our Father and Act of Contrition), helpful resources for special circumstances and suggestions for things you can do in those circumstances, scripture passages, wise and encouraging quotes, reminders for how to make a good confession, and instructions for making an examination of conscience
This much-needed book is all about keeping fear at bay. Yes, these are dark and troubling times but with faith there is hope. We need to fight against the fear and have more faith, not the other way around. Make no mistake about it, God is working hard and He will use this suffering for good. As Teresa says, “We need to stop, take stock, reflect, and zoom out to get a bigger picture of what God might be trying to tell us concerning much more than our immediate needs and circumstances.” She’s absolutely right! We are being given such an incredible opportunity here, not only to grow in our faith and to grow closer to Christ, but to help others to do the same. We are being given the opportunity to slow down, reevaluate our priorities, and to open our eyes to God’s goodness and grace in our lives.
Christ is our hope!
Let us keep our hope in Christ alive, now during this pandemic and after! He is working hard to show us His love, goodness, and mercy. He’s never given up on us (nor will He ever give up on us) so let’s not give up on Him. Now more than ever, we need to place ourselves into our Father's loving arms and surrender ourselves over to His saving love. So many lives have been negatively affected by this pandemic! Many people have suffered from illness or the fear of illness, the loss of loved ones, disappointments, fears, financial burdens, and broken relationships. God is calling us to take care of one another, not only in a physical sense, but in a spiritual and emotional sense as well. We are being called to share the good news of the Gospel, not only with words, but with deeds. May the witness of our Christian lives be communicated to others in such a way that the love and life of Christ can be recognized in us.
We will get through this, my friends! In the words of Teresa Tomeo, “…we’ve got this, but only if we truly believe that God has got us, and we respond to His calling card today” (Conquering Coronavirus, p. 90). If we open our eyes to the wonder and beauty of Our Lord, we might just find that, in a way, this pandemic is a blessing in a disguise! Have faith, trust in God, don’t let go of Christ who is our hope and, if you’re in need of a real boost, please read Conquering Coronavirus! The pages of this book are sure to touch your heart and refresh your soul. Thank you, Teresa, for giving this world a real gift during a time when it is most needed!
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Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of this book for my honest review. The link leading to Sophia Institute Press is an affiliate link. Any purchases made through this link allow for slight compensation to the author at no cost to the consumer. Many thanks for choosing to purchase through this affiliate link!