Unleash the Gospel offers weekly tips, resources and playlists for those in self-quarantine using ‘Encounter, Grow, Witness’ paradigm

DETROIT — While necessary to avoid the spread of coronavirus, “social distancing” doesn’t have to mean spiritual distancing, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said in a new message to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

After his historic announcement to temporarily suspend Masses in the Archdiocese of Detroit as a way to fight the virus, Archbishop Vigneron on Wednesday released a list of 10 “guideposts” to light Catholics’ path forward.

“Christ’s death and rising is a grace that should shape every day of a Christian’s life and above all in these days,” Archbishop Vigneron wrote. “In this time of trial we are called to seize the grace of showing ourselves, by the power of the Spirit of Christ, to be, like Christ, filled with faith in God’s care for us.”

The guideposts, inspired by similar guideposts in his pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, are meant to help Catholics grow spiritually during a time of crisis, and will be accompanied by weekly resources, prayers, ideas and activities to support families during the temporary suspension of school, public Masses and gatherings.

“Christ’s death and rising is a grace that should shape every day of a Christian’s life and above all in these days,” Archbishop Vigneron wrote. “In this time of trial we are called to seize the grace of showing ourselves, by the power of the Spirit of Christ, to be, like Christ, filled with faith in God’s care for us.”

In his second guidepost, “This is the Lent God Our Father Wants Us to Have,” Archbishop Vigneron said despite the disruptions, God is still in control.

“God in Christ is the Lord of history. He’s in charge. His providential plan for our salvation and happiness cannot be defeated,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “If he has permitted us to have to be for a while without our public celebration of the Holy Eucharist and our usual Lenten devotions, his Spirit offers us other means to prepare ourselves for Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum.”

A list of resources at unleashthegospel.org/spiritual-closeness includes daily ideas for families to practice their faith together, using the paradigm of “Encounter, Grow, Witness” found in Unleash the Gospel.

For instance, for Friday, March 20, families are encouraged to “grow” by playing a Lent-inspired family game; for Saturday, March 21, families can “witness” by drawing crosses and Catholic symbols with chalk on sidewalks to remind people of God’s closeness.

An example of “encounter” includes creating a prayer space at home using Bibles, candles, holy cards, flowers and pictures. 

The resources page also includes a guide for how to make a spiritual communion, which the archbishop encouraged for all Catholics apart from the Eucharist, and regular inspirational articles.

Finally, the resources include a “Spiritual Closeness Spotify Playlist” compiled by the Unleash the Gospel team, which includes music suggestions for Catholics to stay close to Christ during the coronavirus pandemic.

Song suggestions can be sent by visiting Unleash the Gospel on Instagram @utgdetroit.

“Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb 12: 1),” Archbishop Vigneron wrote. “That’s the best way I can summarize what I believe we need to do to come out of this pandemic as the daughters and sons God calls us to be. Keep focused on Jesus’ example of abandonment into the hands of God the Father. Keep close to Jesus in prayer. Keep confident that Jesus is with us in this time of trial. Keep at peace, for Jesus is Lord, conqueror of sin and death, victor over every evil.”