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When pandemic leaves us feeling we have nothing more to add, may we remember we follow Jesus: Laura Kelly Fanucci

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Sandra Cruz of Chelsea, Mass., waits for a ride with her daughter after picking up free groceries from a food pantry July 22, 2020. Cruz lost her job because of the coronavirus pandemic, fell four months behind on her rent and was fearing eviction. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

The opposite of division is multiplication. The opposite of subtraction is addition.

Laura Kelly Fanucci writes the “Faith at Home” column for Catholic News Service. (CNS photo/courtesy Laura Kelly Fanucci)

In a time when we feel deeply divided and we’ve lost so much, what could we add or multiply to help those who need it most?

People are struggling everywhere right now. The longer the pandemic drags on, the closer many are edging to the brink. Beyond the latest headlines are real humans, suffering in flesh and blood.

This week I posed a question on social media. What’s the heaviest burden you’re carrying, the hardest part of life that you need others to hold in prayer?

Thousands of responses poured in. College students dealing with depression. New moms feeling suicidal. Older adults weary with isolation. Exhausted parents fearing burnout. Bereaved relatives mourning grandparents who died from COVID-19 or babies lost to miscarriage.

Losses piled up in the comment box: jobs, homes, health, friends — all lost to the pandemic. As I read, I realized we need to do more, to pray and act.

If we are committed to sharing the good news of the Gospel with a weary world, we are called to do whatever we can for those who are suffering. None of us is immune to the toll that the pandemic has taken. But if we each reach out to someone, we could start to make the small difference that could bring a sea change.

Here are concrete ways to help individuals, couples and families who are suffering. Let what you have meet what another needs. Trust that God will work to multiply the rest.

If you have time to offer, look for those who are stressed and overwhelmed.

Text a friend who’s grieving. Write cards to friends who need a boost of love in their mailbox. Read a book over FaceTime with your grandkids to give their parents a break.

If you have money to give, let your heart lead you to share with others.

Parents are struggling to feed their kids. Marriages are fraying. Families have to pay for funerals. Contact local organizations about their greatest needs, and let the gift of your generosity help someone who’s hurting.

If you have energy to share, look for people who are depleted.

Start an online small group at your parish by brainstorming who might long to connect: homebound parishioners, new parents, empty nesters or the unemployed. Contact your local Catholic school to see if they need more substitute teachers.

If you have talents to lend, imagine who might find joy or hope in your gifts.

Could you bake a surprise for a lonely neighbor? Work out virtually with a niece or nephew? Play an instrument over Zoom for nursing home residents? Call a local parish, school or senior center to ask what community needs could be met by the gifts God has given you?

If you have a praying heart, multiply your petitions.

Pray for those who are sick or dying, especially those who are alone. Ask God to bless caregivers and protect their health. Reach out to a struggling friend and let them know you’ll pray for them in a special way each day this week.

If you have children at home, turn their energy into service.

Make new signs for your windows to cheer your neighbors. Organize a food drive or diaper donation for your local food bank. Ask kids to research a new patron saint to inspire your family’s prayer during the pandemic.

To keep going, we need God’s abundant mercy. But we also need the best of humanity: all the creativity, collaboration and compassion we can offer each other.

When we feel like we have nothing more to add or multiply, may we remember we follow Jesus who fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes.

Will God not increase even the smallest offering we can make?

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Fanucci is a writer, speaker, and author. Her work can be found at laurakellyfanucci.com.