A few day ago, the Council of the Vincentian Family in Latin America issued a statement with regard to the world crisis that has resulted from the coronavirus. We present here some of the more significant aspects of that message:
In light of the situation that we are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus, I want to share with you some reflections that might enable us, from the perspective of faith, to embrace all that is happening.
First, we should remember that we are people of faith and we place our faith in a God who does not punish, who does not want human beings, nor anything created to suffer. That reality was revealed to us by Jesus of Nazareth (John 10:10). Yes, Jesus revealed God as a merciful Father who willed to end the suffering of the cross caused by injustice, inequality, and sin — social and structural sin. This is the God that Jesus revealed, a God who walks beside the poor, beside those who suffer and are marginalized and excluded, beside those whose life is at risk.
Second, as people of faith, our prayer should be constant and should connect faith and life. Our prayer should also give us strength to overcome our weakness and fear (Matthew 6:7-15). Our prayer should give us wisdom to act in an intelligent manner and to follow the norms and protocols that will prevent the spread of this virus while at the same time enabling us to enter into greater solidarity with those who are most needy. Our prayer, as Vincent and Louise taught us, should connect affective love with effective love. Pope Francis invites us to live a spirituality of caring for all things living. Such a spirituality breaks down the barriers of self-centeredness and indifference with regard of what happens to our sisters and brothers and leads us to a commitment of solidarity and outreach. May we approach the Gospels as the primordial source of Jesus’ experience and pray from the perspective of Jesus’ thoughts, feelings and actions.
Third, our faith and our prayer should lead us to be creative in love. Creative so that we reveal mercy and kindness and closeness. This time of crisis challenges us to be creative in organizing merciful love … seeking alternatives within the context of the present situation (Luke 10:25-37). We are dealing with being inventive from the perspective of the light of the Spirit and the power of love so that we might find new ways to be church, new ways to serve and new ways to organize ourselves. Therefore, it is important to maintain communication among ourselves as a Vincentian Family, maintain communication within each one of our associations, communities, groups or congregations. Communication strengthens the family and allows it to make decisions.
Finally, all women and men, from the perspective of their baptismal experience, carry within themselves an ability to reach out in a selfless manner of service and love to those sisters and brothers who are suffering and impoverished. That selflessness encompasses the giving of self; a willingness to take risks; a sharing of time, possessions, faith, hope, strength, comfort (John 15:12-17). The Holy spirit will give us the graces that we need in order to embrace our Vincentian-Christian commitment with courage and strength.
Let us ask for the intercession of our Good Mother, Mary, who invites us to live affective and effective love as a miraculous activity in the midst of the world. May she be our companion on the road as we follow Jesus of Nazareth and incarnate Jesus’ presence through solidarity and prophetic activity (Luke 1:26-56).
Stuardo Alberto Marroquín, CM
Sub-coordinator of FAVILA