During the pandemic, gatherings are not allowed so as to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It was difficult for everyone, especially being locked down. There was a limit on movement. There is so much uncertainty about what the future holds that it affects mental health. Yet, the pandemic teaches us to value what is most important. We begin to see our family from a closer perspective and do things together. It becomes an opportunity to be more reflective about what this pandemic has brought us. This time also brought us closer to our God through prayer. It was prayer that kept us going in the face of the pandemic’s uncertainty. Prayer is what helps us survive.
The activity of praying together is the most helpful way for the Chungli Association of Immigrant Families (CAIF) to reach out to people who are going through the same difficulties and challenges. The CAIF is a group of immigrant families. Its members are Filipinos who have married Taiwanese citizens, and some of its members are families who emigrate to Taiwan and find work there together with their relatives. Their movement may have been restricted to the extent that they could not be there physically, but this did not hinder them from being there for one another. With God, everything is possible. Given the technology we have now, the opportunity of meeting through a virtual mode was made possible. It was the virtual rosary that connected them to be united in prayer for everyone who is suffering from being apart from one another. It was praying the rosary that helped them to care for one another.
The rosary gives them the strength to remain hopeful in the face of adversity. This group found each other’s consolation through praying the rosary. It’s inspiring to hear their various stories about how praying the rosary helped them overcome the challenges that COVID-19 threw at them. People are getting closer together through social media. Bringing Jesus into the virtual world to spread the gospel of faith, love, and hope presents a unique challenge for Christians.
The following are some of their stories:
Janeth and Her Son, Phillip
Janeth is married to a Taiwanese man and has two kids.
After filling our tummies with a simple yet scrumptious dinner we had what seemed like a nonstop family sharing of the whole day’s happenings that mostly lead to teasing and laughing. My son and I will continue this experience virtually. Yes! “CAIF” meets on a regular basis via Zoom.
The surge of COVID-19 changed the whole world. A new normal is born. Work from home, online classes, on-line Masses, webinars and the like are some of the activities that fit into this new norm of living. Face-to-face interaction is not so common nowadays. It may be a sad reality, but CAIF faced it with grace.
It is now our habit to pray the holy rosary every day. There are times that, due to some avoidable circumstances, I can’t be present, but seeing their screenshots makes me feel so blessed that I belong to CAIF.
Prior to praying the rosary, each of us will state our prayer intentions and petitions. It is truly overwhelming and heart-melting to hear that someone is praying for you, that the supposed personal prayer intention becomes a holistic prayer. Generously, all prayed for each other’s prayers; even the CAIF kids learned to utter their prayers too.
My son Phillip used to ask me the current time because it helped me remember to pray. He is genuinely excited to meet everyone, even if only virtually. He will ask me if Jude and Lindy will also be present, and he is also delighted to see Justine and David join the virtual rosary.
As Phillip faithfully joined the virtual rosary prayer, his reading skills improved. I vividly remember the first time he led one of the rosary mysteries. He was so nervous at first and barely opened his mouth because he was afraid of making a mistake, but after that first experience, he became more confident and always looked forward to his turn.
Joy and Her Family
Joy is the mother of a Filipino family now living in Taiwan.
During these challenging pandemic times in Taiwan, our Friday rosary (now daily) helps us to connect and encourages us to pray for each other as one big family. Our online meetings give us a chance to see everyone and hear about their day as we share our thanksgiving and prayer intentions.
My husband Demy gathers us together at the dining table, and, when it’s time for prayer, he will be there to assist us when there are technical difficulties, while my two kids, Jude and Lindy, cheerfully volunteer to participate and sometimes lead the mysteries of the rosary.
It is my reflection that Mama Mary has always been our intercessor who brings us all to the source of hope, strength, and comfort who is our Lord Jesus Christ. She is our mother who guides us by praying the rosary. We can be closer to our God where we can surrender our fears and concerns. Mama Mary becomes our mother who looks after us wholeheartedly and tirelessly.
All these things make my heart grateful. Praying with my family and with the CAIF community has helped me cope with daily struggles.
Charlotte is an engineer working in Taiwan.
I grew up in a family where praying the rosary every day was a daily ritual. But as we grew older and went to study in Manila, this daily prayer was no longer recited. It was rekindled when I started working here in Taiwan, and while I don’t pray the rosary every day, I try to do so whenever I can.
There was a time when I was asked by Ma’am Joan to join and pray the rosary via Zoom. It was a small group of people having the same devotion as mine, with a great love for praying the rosary and hearts full of compassion and caring for others. This becomes my regimen, like a daily vitamin for my soul.
Each day I look forward to seeing these “prayer warriors,” as I call them. Since it is in these difficult and dark times that we need warriors to combat our fears, negative emotions, pride, ruthlessness, jealousy, temptations, and other things that rob us of receiving the overflowing blessings we are entitled to have.
Each of these prayer warriors possesses an armor that is so great that even the slightest touch of evil trembles and runs away with fear. The spiritual weapon that they have is a gift that was given to us by our Blessed Mother Mary. Her love for us is so great that she gave us…the Holy Rosary.
When I had been diagnosed with Covid-19, there were a lot of discomforts, difficulty in breathing and sleepless nights. I told myself that this is not easy overcoming this health challenge. But with the grace of God and through the prayers of this group I find comfort, strength and confidence that I can overcome it and I did.
This may not appear significant to some because it already becomes normal to be infected with this disease, but if you talk to those who are fighting for their lives or those who lost their loved ones, it will be different.
Our prayers are even more magnified if they are recited with the Holy Rosary. These prayer warriors prove that there is no heavy burden that cannot be lightened by praying the rosary. It is as if we are journeying with Our Blessed Mother every step of our way in our lives.
If everyone knew about how powerful this spiritual weapon is, we could all together extinguish every known evil in this world—but until then we are still in a spiritual battle.
Columban lay missionary Joan Yap lives and works in Taiwan.