The Pope has asked us to devote this day to begging God that the pandemic might end. In particular, the Pope asked us to pray, fast, and perform works of charity, along with believers of all religions.
It is a truly beautiful proposal; the Pope is not trying to bargain with God, but rather to show his people the path to a truly human life in the midst of the crisis. For the human person cannot experience fulfillment without sacrifice, and most particularly, the sacrifice of self-gift.
At this time, those of us who are not on the ‘front lines’ may feel powerless, helpless before so much suffering. We may feel unable to give of ourselves. Though we long to serve the ill, vulnerable, and imprisoned, the most helpful thing we can do is obediently stay away. Indeed, the corporal works of mercy would be anything but merciful, because our very bodies may present a danger to those whom we would encounter.
Yet, as the Pope reminds us, self-gift remains possible.
It takes the form of charity, expressions of love and generosity to those who are struggling in any way. And the form of almsgiving, donations to charities and health services and the support of local businesses. It takes the form of empathy, sharing in the suffering of others through our own sacrifice, perhaps through fasting. Importantly, it also takes the form of obedience to civil and religious leaders. And above all, it takes the form of prayer — which is not merely thought, but a path to real unity with one another and with God.
Throughout the crisis, the Pope has unfailingly prayed — and encouraged us to pray — for a wide of people: the ill and their loved ones, the uniquely vulnerable, medics and nurses, political leaders, and those who provide essential services. One of the most beautiful prayers the Pope has proposed is this petition to the Blessed Mother:
O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.
At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain, with steadfast faith.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.
We are certain that you will provide, so that, as you did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the Father’s will and to do what Jesus tells us:
He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us,
through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
In my prayer today, I am remembering three additional groups of people.
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