5 Tools That Helped Turn My COVID-19 Time Into Retreat Time

These resources helped me to find livestreamed Masses, an online Bible study, a live Rosary and more

Günther Simmermacher
Günther Simmermacher (photo: Pixabay/CC0)

So many of us have been forced to stay home in recent months, either because of pandemic restrictions or having caught the coronavirus.

My tendency when I get sick is to focus on “stuff” that needs to be done around the house. Cleaning, organizing, throwing out, and so on.

This Lent I contracted COVID-19 and had an unexpected 10 days at home. With only enough energy to lay on the couch, I was severely limited in what I could do.

Fortunately I had the good sense, or was prompted, to use this valuable time to draw closer to Christ. Ways of expanding my spiritual knowledge and strength that I normally wouldn’t have had time to get to were exactly what I needed.


1. Livestream Mass Directory

Each day I turned to Mass-Online.org to listen to a live Mass. The site allows you to choose a Mass that is about to start, listing the parish’s location from all over the world. I watched one from Wisconsin, another from Florida, one from the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, and a Latin Mass from Winston, Virginia. At Communion time, I made an act of “spiritual Communion” and joined my minor inconveniences with Our Lord’s suffering. This site also offers live Adoration which I used for times of silent prayer, listening to God and journaling.


2. Bible in a Year

Early in January I’d started listening to the Bible in a Year daily podcasts with Father Mike Schmitz, but within a matter of days I was behind. With my forced downtime, it’s become a habit now to turn to the lively episodes each day, and coming to find myself gradually “getting” the Old Testament more than ever before through Father Schmitz’s brief insights.


3. Consecration to St. Joseph

For the year of St. Joseph, I started doing the consecration to him, with brief prayers and reflections found at ConsecrationToJoseph.org. In addition to honoring St. Joseph and asking him to guide my family and our Church, I’m joining others in asking his intercession for our country, especially for the conversion of non-practicing Catholics in government.


4. Nightly Rosary

With no shortage of virtual resources these days, I was so happy to hear about a  nightly Rosary from Holy Innocents Church in Manhattan. Started at the beginning of the pandemic by the pastor, Father James Miara, he continues to lead all seven mysteries of the Rosary seven nights a week with participants joining in from all over the world. To join:

  • Zoom.us
  • Meeting ID: 518 216 8942
  • Password: 5gFd8U
  • One tap mobile: +19294362866,,5182168942#


5. Surrender Novena

Finally I’ve been drawn to the Surrender Novena, one I’ve done before which comes to us from Father Dolindo Ruotolo. With a number of personal challenges I need to leave at the feet of the Cross, I find this one simple yet powerful, ending each day with O Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything! 

The first few days it was hard to resist my impulse to want to clean, organize photos, wash curtains, go through papers. But I felt I was being prompted to use my lack of energy to focus on the real meaning of Lent and turn my trivial sufferings into prayer. My contagion period is almost over now, and hopefully I’ll retain some of these spiritual habits I’ve benefitted from in spite of the virus.