Italy is so far the worst hit country by coronavirus pandemic after China. In a letter dated 11 March 2020, Fr. Gennaro ROSATO, the Provincial of the Mediterranean Province, invited all the members of the Oblate family to live this moment of great trouble and discomfort, rooted in faith and love.
Here is the letter:
Dear Brothers and members of the Oblate Family,
We are living in a situation that seems surreal. It finds us disorientated because we are powerless in the face of something that we feel is threatening, especially because it is unknown. Like many others, perhaps we experience not only the discomfort of the precautionary measures imposed, but also a feeling of fear that impulsively assails us. We cannot stop ourselves from feeling emotions. What we can do is try to manage them with intelligence and faith. Intelligence allows us to deal with the situation in a more objective and rational way; faith enables us to make a deeper reading of what we are experiencing, helps us to make sense of what is happening and to orient the choices to be made.
As disciples of the Lord, accepting the call to ask with faith (Lk 11:9), we turn to Him with our needs and those of our brothers and sisters; with a sense of responsibility, we wish to do our part with all our intelligence, energy, and heart, assuring that “everything contributes to the good of those who love God” (Rom 8:28).
United in prayer…
The security measures required have suddenly given many of us so much “free” time to manage. Why not take advantage of it to pray a little more and more calmly? Ideally, we can all join in prayer and pray together. I invite you to make a daily commitment to address this prayer, or other suitable ones, to the Lord, choosing a moment in the day to present it to Him:
“Lord of life and giver of all good, through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, St. Eugene and the blessed Oblates, we turn to you to ask for the grace of your protection for us and for every person in the world. We pray to you for all those who are affected by this virus so that they will recover. We entrust to you those who are most committed to dealing with the emergency of the epidemic: the rulers, scientists, doctors, nurses, law enforcement agencies and those who, in various ways, are involved in the collaboration. Support those who suffer most from the consequences of the economic damage, especially the poor, in your providence.
In your goodness have mercy on all those who have died,and relieve the pain of those who suffer from the loss of their loved ones.
Do not let us be discouraged,but give us the grace to trust you, and to contribute, as much as we can, to the good of others. To you we entrust our life and the life of the whole world and we pray that, in facing this moment together, people may grow in solidarity and peace”.
…let us do our part as required (for the Oblate communities in Italy)…
Until April 3 (unless there are further instructions from the Legislator), in compliance with governmental dispositions, and in a spirit of solidarity with all the Italian people, we are asked not to leave our communities, and to cancel any commitment that does not allow us to guarantee the security norms. By decree, it is permitted to leave one’s home only for objectively valid and urgent reasons: to go shopping or purchase basic necessities, to go to the pharmacy, for health reasons or real urgencies generated by serious personal, community, pastoral or family situations. If there is a real urgency to move beyond the borders of one’s own municipality of residence or domicile, it will be necessary to fill in the necessary self-certification so as not to incur a criminal offence. In pastoral and liturgical matters, we will adapt ourselves to the ecclesial directives of the Italian Episcopal Conference and of the diocesan Bishops. Each Community, after having diligently examined the civil and ecclesial regulations, should take, in a spirit of communion and co-responsibility, the security measures it considers appropriate to its concrete situation. Within our Communities during this period, we will not schedule meetings or celebrations open to other people; it will be possible to celebrate Community Mass in private form, guaranteeing the due distance prescribed.
…with confidence that “everything contributes to the good of those who love God” (Rom 8:28).
Let us try to live this moment rooted in faith and love. We can abide by these rules out of scruples or fear; As Christians, we can motivate our commitment by living it as a concrete sign of our love for our brothers and sisters, that is, by doing our part to safeguard the health of others, helping to prevent the epidemic from spreading.
We are preparing for Easter, which is the feast of life. It is from this perspective that we must look at the cross of Christ, an event that Jesus himself compares to the labour of childbirth (cf. Jn 16:21). We also read this time of ours as a time of labour, which is not an end in itself, because it will lead to the generation of a new life. Let us live it as a grace that is given to us to review our life and to recover that essential thing that we have perhaps put aside and that is what ultimately gives meaning to our life. As for me, I believe that this reality, which has now become planetary, can, among other things, be an opportunity to review relations between peoples, so that by overcoming selfishness and partisan interests, each one can take to heart the progress and well-being of others in a spirit of solidarity, and of course, of authentic fraternity. Trusting in the help of Mary our Mother and Guardian, our Refuge and Defense, I greet each one in the Lord.
Fr. Gennaro Rosato, OMI