We are living through uneven, catawampus times of the coronavirus pandemic. As of this writing, in fewer than two months, more Americans have died from the coronavirus than died during the Korean War. That lasted three years. We have watched family and neighbors cycle through the five stages of grief: denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance. (Let us not forget the sixth stage unique to this pandemic and shelter-in-place restrictions: boredom!) Now, as Americans begin recycling through the five stages, the evening news broadcasts stories of Americans expressing anger at their circumstances.

The coronavirus crisis is so much more than a pandemic interwoven with another Great Recession. It is about our humanity and our response when the many markers of our lives have shifted. In the darkness of the night, we’re stumbling into furniture that someone moved while we weren’t looking. Everyone is connected; each of us lives with newly arranged furniture. Some of us, however, are having trouble adjusting to the new floor plans.

They say that a measure of a person’s character is not taken by their response in a crisis, but by their response to the little matters of life. You can also measure a person’s character by the nature of their response: self and self-interest or the poor, the most vulnerable, and the struggling.

If there were anything positive one could glean from the pandemic it is the opportunity to reassess our own humanity. We cannot forget the Spiritual Work of Mercy to comfort the afflicted. The Spiritual Works of Mercy guide us to help our neighbors with their spiritual needs and now is our time to draw near to the lonely and afflicted.

The Gospel of Life demands that we love our neighbor as ourselves; love does no wrong to a neighbor. We know from the Confiteor that “wrong” can arise from “what we have done and what we have failed to do.” Have you reached out to anyone? Today you have neighbors who live alone and are isolated. Call them. Today you have neighbors who are worried about venturing out to the grocery store. Pick up their groceries. Today you have parishioners overwhelmed with juggling home schooling and work, if they’re still fortunate enough to have work. Ask if you can pray with them! The odds are that some are struggling to maintain faith in an all-loving God.

We are a people of life and for life. As Pope John Paul II wrote, “Our support and promotion of human life must be accomplished through the service of charity, which finds expression in personal witness, various forms of volunteer work, social activity and political commitment.” What better support of human life than comforting our afflicted neighbors?

St. Paul proclaimed, “Now the body is not a single part, but many.” Let us reflect on the great need for solidarity and continue to manifest the works of charity and justice in these difficult times. Even though we are socially isolated, let us remain connected to one another.

As St. Augustine wrote, “The pain of one, even the smallest member, is the pain of all.”

Cato is director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Portland. Fr. Libra, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, is director of pro-life activities in the archdiocese.