We share a letter that Most Reverend Vicente Bokalic, CM, Bishop of Santiago del Espero (Argentina) wrote to Tomaž Mavrič, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission. At this time when many people experience uncertainty and pain, his words are most hopeful.
Dear Father General Tomaž Mavrič, CM
May the grace and peace of the Risen Lord be always with you!!
Thank you for your message, a message filled with the Spirit of the Lord. At this time, we need to hear such words. Let us encourage and console one another with the consolation that comes from the Lord … as Saint Paul stated in his letter, your words are light and encouragement and hope and comfort. Thank You.
This worldwide pandemic has bound us together. At every moment I think about the manner in which Saint Vincent acted in similar situations. Vincent experienced many similar events: war, famine, disease of every kind, countless beggars and refugees as well as countless infirm and abandoned men and women. All of those event motivated Vincent to greater charity. Providing assistance to those who are poor is the living sacrament of the suffering Christ. At the same time, Vincent was deeply rooted in prayer which provided him with the strength and the enlightenment to establish various works, to send forth missionaries, to encourage the Daughters of Charity, and to organize the laity in their care for those who were poor and needy. All of this was done from the perspective of a unique encounter with the Lord in the Eucharist and from the perspective of a profound ecclesial understanding. Vincent continues to inspire us as we give life to his legacy of mission and charity. He reminds us to return to the sources of our spirituality … a spirituality incarnated in life but with a foretaste of eternity. The celebration of the Incarnation that we recently celebrated is an endless source of life for our consecration and for our service in the Church (ministering in those places where the Lord has sent us).
Here in Argentina, in Santiago del Estero, we have been in quarantine since March 20th and this will continue until Easter. In general, people are obeying the guidelines of the authorities. Much assistance is being provided to people especially in the most impoverished areas. In other words, this assistance is being given to the many people who are unemployed and to the many children, and elderly and poor families who reside on the peripheries of the cities. The Church, through Caritas (Catholic Charities) and other groups, is collaborating with the State in order to provide assistance to those who are poor.
Thanks be to God the virus is not widespread here: there are few cases, but we must also be vigilant.
As in many other places, we are not able to celebrate the Eucharist with the people. Nevertheless, there are many initiatives and much creativity in the use of the social networks. Family prayer is being encouraged and many good resources are available on the internet. People are praying more frequently and are meditating and reflecting on the Word of God. They participate in the “virtual” celebration of the Eucharist. There is a strong sense of prayer and families feel strengthened. My mission is to encourage, to promote and to accompany people …inviting the faithful to become “a domestic church”. We are confident in the Lord’s Providence and in our morning prayer we prayed for even greater trust and confidence. Vincent de Paul has taught us to believe and to pray often for a deepening of this trust in divine providence.
Tomaž, continue to encourage and to strengthen the worldwide Vincentian Family. There are places that have gravely afflicted by this global tragedy. We need words and gestures that strengthen our faith and our charity.
I pray for you and for the whole Congregation, for the worldwide Vincentian Family … for those who are joined together in order to serve the poor as Saint Vincent did.
I lift up a special prayer for you Father General … May our Lady of the Miraculous Medal pour forth graces of hope and effective love on all people.
Heartfelt and fraternal greetings
+Vicente Bokalic, CM
Bishop of Santiago del Estero
March 31, 2020