You are not alone. Many people are with you, with us, in solidarity during
these days. It is important to know that the Sisters of Providence and
the Sisters of St. Joseph hold us in prayer each day. Pope Francis just
held a special type of solemn prayer service that a pope normally does
only twice per year, at Easter and Christmas. He began with the scripture
story when Jesus and the disciples were in a boat during a bad storm.
They became afraid and Jesus calmed the storm. Below is some of the reflection
and prayer Pope Francis offers us:
“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening…We
find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were
caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that
we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the
same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each
of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat are all of us…Only
together can we do this.
…Lord, you are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing…a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate
what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back
on track… We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey
who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives…who
without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of
our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers,
providers of transport, [police], volunteers, religious women and men,
and so very many others…
…How many people every day are exercising patience and offering
hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many
[parents], grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small
everyday gestures, how to navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines,
lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering
and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are
our victorious weapons.
…Let us hand over our fears to [God] so that [God] can conquer them.
Like the disciples, we will experience that with [God] on board there
will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to
the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. [God] brings
serenity into our storms…Let us not quench the wavering flame (Is
42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.
Dear brothers and sisters, may God’s blessing come down upon you
as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to
our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our
faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at
the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto
you, for you care about us” (1 Pet 5:7).
May you find strength and comfort in knowing that you have the support
of your colleagues, of those in the community, of the Sisters, and of
those around the country and the world who keep you in prayer. And while
the world is experiencing stormy seas on the outside, may you know peace within.