In 1617, Vincent de Paul established the Confraternities of Charity. In their ministry the members of these Confraternities were to honor and imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, after being told that she was to be the mother of the Son of God, cheerfully and promptly visited her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant.
When the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was established in 1833, visiting the poor in their homes and providing material and spiritual assistance to those individuals became the primary focus of the members. Were not these individuals also imitating Mary and the mystery of the Visitation.
Through the time of his ministry as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has exhorted people to go out to the peripheries and to encounter countless sisters and brothers who are marginalized and excluded from active participation in society.
Since the appearance of COVID-19 in our midst, the manner in which we reach out to people, the manner in which we communicate with one another has changed in dramatic ways. We have had not find new ways to “visit our sisters and brothers,” “new way to imitate the mystery of the Visitation.”
In May 2020, I wrote: we have seen things occur this month that never before in our lives have we experienced: 4.5 million people infirm as a result of Covid-19 and over 300,000 deaths throughout the world; millions of people unemployed; millions of children now learning in “virtual” classrooms; health care professions risking their own lives in order to serve their sisters and brothers; churches of every domination closed; and the list goes on and on and on.
Since that time, all of the above statistics have changed dramatically. The poor have become poorer and more people have become poor. Homelessness in all the major cities has increased. People are finding it more and more difficult to put food on their table in order to feed their families. Yes, there is hope and light with the arrival of various vaccines. But there is also renewed fear as various new strains of the COVID-19 virus appear throughout the world. Will the vaccine be effective in light of these new strains? Will we all have to be vaccinated once again? Will this process of vaccination become a yearly happening like the annual process of being vaccinated against the flu?
I concluded that article and stated: In the midst of this situation, yes, we lift up our voices and pray … what are the words of your prayers as you cry out to Mary?
Let me share with you some of my prayers:
- Each day I pray: Blessed Mother, keep my mother safe today (my mother celebrated here 100th birthday in October and I have not seen her since December 2019 … I do, however, speak with her every day).
- I then go on to pray for my sister, my nephews and nieces (some of whom are frontline workers)… that they also will be protected and blessed.
- I pray for the people with whom I live, many of whom are vulnerable and have underlying conditions.
- I thank Mary for the dedication of the people who serve and work in our house.
- I pray for friends and will mention them by name.
- I pray for people I do not know who are infirm and/or suffering in any way (spiritually/materially).
- Very often my prayer consists of no words. I sit and in silence open my heart and believe that God known exactly what is within my heart.
So again, I ask: what are the words of your prayers as you cry out to Mary?