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Listen carefully to the Lord, tested patience and calm hope

March 19, 2020

In the midst of the current health crisis that, little by little, is spreading throughout the world, our Superior General writes to inform us of how the sisters are doing, how they are living it in the Curia House in Rome and to express their feelings. It tells us like this: 

Dear Sisters:

I want to be united with you all in the midst of this situation, the pandemic that we are going through and that, in different ways, is affecting us all. In the midst of it we do not fully understand the magnitude of what is happening; a pandemic that reminds us of how vulnerable we are, a virus that forces us to change our agendas, the rhythm of life, the world order. Mysteriously, the impact we live through makes us recognize ourselves as a global village affected by the unexpected. We are all called to get out of our comfortable individualisms and seek to care for each other. 1

I wrote a circular letter some days ago but I have not sent it to you because what it communicated is no longer valid: organization, planning, trips and meetings that remain invalid due to this ‘new world order’ that we have to live in.

However, I wanted to communicate with each one to share what is happening to us as a Body, what happens with our sisters here and there, what we are experiencing in our Curia House and what this situation makes me feel– a communication of sisters and family, at a time that we never imagined living, and that enables us to be united in this global suffering. “We are not before an enigma, but before a mystery, a mystery of faith that makes us believe and trust in a God the Father who is good and merciful, who is always with us. We believe and trust Jesus of Nazareth who comes to give us life in abundance and sympathizes with those who suffer; We believe and trust in a life-giving Spirit, Lord and giver of life. And this faith is a gift of the Spirit of the Lord, which comes to us through the Word in the ecclesial community.” 2 We find this closeness to God mediated in so many altruistic, generous actions and of the solidarity of our brothers around the world.

We can also see how our houses, our communities and families have been transformed into ‘small churches’. How many who cannot celebrate the Eucharist have a small corner with the Word of God and a burning candle, reminding them that the people of the Covenant always waited on their God. We also want to do it today. Wait with trust and serenity for this to pass.

Many of you ask me how the Sisters are in the different places of the Congregation. From the news I have so far I can say that we are fine, and that, until now, none of us is ‘infected ’. The countries that are worse in terms of the number of infected and deaths are, besides Asia, Italy and Spain. I do believe that as citizens we must carry out what the governments of the different countries dictate, as well as the norms established by the health organizations. Without going into paralyzing fears, we have to be responsible in caring for everyone's life, to do what is within our reach. We do not exclude ourselves from a responsibility of care. We know from the news that this situation is also reaching other countries, although for the moment, not to the same extent.

I chose to write to you on the day of St. Joseph for various reasons. It is a great feast in the Church, many of our sisters made their First or perpetual profession on a day like today, many of our sisters bear this name and, in addition, these past days while going over the letters of our Mother Foundress I found many in which she refers to Saint Joseph. We know of her devotion to this saint. Today in the mass at Santa Marta the Pope has a homily that can be a encouragement in our lives. Referring to Saint Joseph, he said that he was a just man and had the capacity to dialogue with the mystery in his daily life; a man who is on the list of those who have lived the faith as the foundation of what is hoped for, as a guarantee of what is not seen. The Pope speaks of Saint Joseph as a man who has known how to enter into the mystery: “I think of the Church today, in this solemnity of Saint Joseph, our faithful, our Bishops, our priests, our consecrated men and women, including Popes. Are they capable of entering into the mystery, or do they need to be in control through rules and regulations which defend them against what they cannot control? When the Church loses the possibility of entering into the mystery, she loses the ability to adore.… Adoration happens only when one enters into God's mystery”. (Homily of Pope Francis in Santa Marta, March 19, 2020)

Let us wait with patience for another moment to come, let us leave it in a different way, more humane and pierced by the Gospel; let us accompany so many people who have suffered the death of their loved ones. Let us not forget to be balm, warmth, kind presence (GCVIII, 4) with others, but also among ourselves. And let us ask ourselves what is new in the poverty to which we are invited today with this world situation.

I share with you that in our community at the Curia the motion to expose the Blessed Sacrament arose spontaneously every day from 5 to 7 pm. And there to adore and pray for the entire Congregation. Yesterday, before Jesus in the blessed sacrament, I joined all of them, praying for each one, especially for those who find themselves in situations of greater fragility and in more vulnerable places. I felt that in Him we encounter each other. Once again our beloved text of the CFI 136 came to my memory: ‘… and helped by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they must set before their eyes God as Father. They will place themselves in His hands with total trust,knowing that He cares for His children and loves them…And with the same grace, they ought to strive to love Jesus… … &quot” 

The season of Lent is a privileged time to ask the Lord many questions, to allow Him to reveal to us what we have to convert and to test in the harshness of the desert. In this year the desert has a specific face. Let us ask for the grace to "benefit" from this situation. What lessons can we do from a very new experience? What has to change in our life, right now and after this situation? Listen carefully to the Lord. And I want to conclude my communication with these expressions: tested patience and serene hope.

1 Cfr. Equipo de Teólogos de la CLAR. Bogotá, 17 de marzo de 2020

2 Cfr. Víctor Codina, sj. ¿Dónde está Dios? Barcelona, 18 de marzo de 2020