The Spiritual Life in a Time of Isolation
By Mary Ellen Green, O.P.

So much is being shared these days about how to survive our imposed “lockdown” situation. Parents are finding new ways to be with their children. Spouses and partners are rediscovering how to be together. Social media bridges the miles that separate us from those we love. It is all surreal, isn’t it!

And yet, isn’t it also a wonderful opportunity to deepen one’s spiritual life? In the gospels we often hear that Jesus went away to rest or to pray. Sometimes he stayed up all night, communing with his Father. He also spent 40 days in the desert, preparing for his ministry. Forty days is a long time. Will this lockdown last for 40 days? Quite likely it will and maybe more. What an awesome chance to replicate in some small way the experience of Jesus and other figures in Scripture!

Just imagine how we would be at the end of that period of time if we spent at least part of it in silence and in prayer. We would be transformed and the universe would be transformed as well.

Forty is a special number in Scripture. Mentioned 146 times in Scripture, the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing or trial or probation:

  • God flooded the earth by having it rain for 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:12). 
  • Moses lived 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery.
  • Moses was also on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 - 28), receiving God's laws. He also sent scouts, for 40 days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).
  • The prophet Jonah warned ancient Nineveh, for 40 days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins. 
  • Elijah went 40 days without food or water at Mount Horeb. 
  • Jesus was tempted during the 40 days and nights he fasted just before his ministry began. He also appeared to his disciples and others for 40 days after his resurrection from the dead.

So what is your plan for this special period in our lives? Is God included?


Rev. Grant Van Lishout, Spiritual director and outreach coordinator, shares a greeting and invitation (1 minute video):
We invite you to join us for these opportunities
for spiritual exploration.
How to Register: Email and mention the name of the program. You may mail a $15 check to Marywood Spirituality Center. 3560 Hwy 51 N. Arbor Vitae, WI. 54568.
Hidden Life of Trees
Wednesday, April 22nd
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Facilitator: Marla Lang, FSPA

Trees share food and communicate with each other in astonishing ways. Actually, our Northwoods trees surround us with their hidden lives and seeming miracles. We will take time to ponder some of these mysteries. 

Register by Monday, April 21. Suggested Offering: $15
Navigating Change in One's Life
Wednesday, April 24th
9:30- 11:30 a.m.
Facilitator: Pat Pintens  

Change-making is all around us. What does it do to me? To those I know? Endings usually don’t become beginnings immediately! Change is in our neighbors, in our Churches, in our families. Where is God in all this? How might we grow through change?

Register by Monday, April 22. Suggested Offering: $15 
Spiritual Directors Are Available
During this challenging time you may need to talk to a compassionate listener. Our spiritual directors are available for you and can connect via phone or other technologies.

Spiritual Direction is a safe, confidential, non-judgmental way for you to explore how the Holy Mystery is working in your life, with the help of a trained listener.

All are welcome to reach out to the Marywood Spiritual Directors and request a spiritual direction session.
Pat Pintens 715-453-4190
Sister Mary Ellen Green OP 715-439-9416
Sister Elizabeth Amman OP 715-614-1482 or 715-358-0176
Sister Marla Lang FSPA 715-385-2706
Rev. Grant Van Lishout 712-254-0057

st fran yellow flowers

“Adopt the pace of Nature; 
     Her way is patience.”  
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center engages persons seeking greater meaning in life and a deeper relationship with God, others, self and all creation by providing space for inspiration, reflection and solitude.