Gaze upon the Lord! Even now, we can live these sacred days with grace and hope.
Pope Francis offers this suggestion.
The Crucifix and the Gospel
In these days, all of us in quarantine and at home, shut-in, we can take these two things in hand: the Crucifix and look at it with the eyes of faith; and we can open the Gospel to listen to the Lord.
This will be for us a great domestic liturgy because these days we cannot go to church.
Crucifix and Gospel!
It will do us good to look lovingly at the Crucifix in silence and to see who Our Lord is:
it is He who does not point the finger against anyone, not even against those that are crucifying Him, but opens wide His arms to all;
He who doesn’t crush us with His glory, but lets Himself be despoiled for us;
He who doesn’t love us with words but gives His life in silence; who doesn’t constrain us, but frees us;
He who doesn’t treat us as strangers, but takes our evil upon Himself; He takes our sins upon Himself.
And then we open the Gospel.
Brothers and sisters, let us open our whole heart to Him in prayer, this week, these days, with the Crucifix and the Gospel.
Don’t forget: Crucifix and Gospel. Let us open our whole heart to Him in prayer, letting His gaze rest on us, and we will understand that we are not alone, but loved because the Lord doesn’t abandon us and doesn’t forget us — ever.
And, with these thoughts, I wish you a Holy Week and a Holy Easter.
– Pope Francis, General Audience, Spy Wednesday
Friends, may we gather each other, hold each other, in our hearts and prayer during these sacred days.
Stay safe and well in body and soul.
Prayer for Our World Community
O Great Love,
thank you for living and loving
in us and through us.
May all that we do flow from our deep connection
with you and all beings.
Help us become a community that vulnerably shares
each other’s burdens
and the weight of glory.
Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world.
[Please add your own intentions.] . . .
Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking,
we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.
– Richard Rohr OFM
Friends, now is the time for gentleness with ourselves and others.
Take small steps. Stay safe and well in body and soul.
Take a Small Step
During difficult times,
you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future,
not even what might happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Wipe off the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps
will grow bigger and bigger.
And time will come when you can think
about the future without crying.
(Elena Mikhalkova, “The Room of Ancient Keys”)
Friends, the treasure is now! Patience and trust disover it.
Stay safe and well in body and soul.
The Treasure is Now
Patience is not just about waiting passively,
Waiting until some circumstance changes.
Patience asks me to live this time deeply,
To be completely present to my life, now.
To taste, to savour this moment.
To be where I am fully.
When I am impatient, I try to get away from this moment.
I behave as if my life will happen later and somewhere else.
May I live patience and trust.
May I know that the treasure I am looking for
Is hidden in the ground on which I stand.
“Be still before the Lord and wait in patience” (Psalm 37:7)
Let the healing begin for all of us! This poem marks out the path to healing for ourselves and the earth.
Friends, stay safe and well in body and soul.
Let the Healing Begin
“And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised,
and made art and played games,
and grew gardens full of fresh food,
and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people
living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.”
(Catherine (Kitty) O’Meara, Madison, Wisconsin)
“Say yes to Love!” Pope Francis reminds us that the true heroes are those who serve like Christ, without counting the cost.
Friends, stay safe in body and soul.
The Real Heroes
“Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.
Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line. Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others; it pays!
For life is a gift we receive only when we give ourselves away, and our deepest joy comes from saying yes to love, without ifs and buts.
To truly say yes to love, without ifs and buts. As Jesus did for us.”
(Pope Francis, Palm Sunday homily)
In these days we are not simply passive but have a definite call from the Lord: be light for one another.
Friends, stay safe in body and soul.
A Light for Each Other
‘In these dark days, I have been helped by an image used by Pope Benedict: he writes that life is a journey, “a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route.”
In the night, it was the stars that guided the seafarer.
“Certainly,” the Pope continues, “Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.”
Let each of us, then, live for the other now, let us be a star, let Christ’s gentle light shine through each of us; let us open the door of our world to God: volunteer, reach out, pray for each other and care.
Let us show each other, that though we may be apart, we are not alone. We are stronger when we are together. Now we are with each other in a new way.
Christ will never leave us – let his light shine!’
(Bishop Dermot Farrell, Bishop of Ossory, Ireland)
A Time for Nesting… a beautiful poem by an Irish Capuchin friar invites us to choose to go deep in this time of “nesting”.
When we can’t go out – we can always go in!
Friends, stay safe in body and soul.
There is always
Perhaps in these
it is a simple one;
to dwell on
what has been taken away
or to dwell
in what we have been given;
to build our nests anew
weaving safe and soft
a chance to breathe,
with all the terrible
possibility that brings;
to sit anew
in the secret depths
of those actions
of holy ordinariness…
awaiting the stillness
of a spring morning
when we grant ourselves
awaiting the sunbeam
of divine attention
to warm it to life,
to hatch within us
a new way. (abridged)
Richard Hedrick OFMCap
A beautiful prayer-poem from an Italian priest, who has lost his brother to coronavirus, yet is still full of hope and grace.
I’m Staying Home, Lord
I’m staying at home, Lord! And today, I realize, you taught me this, remaining obedient to the Father, for thirty years in the house of Nazareth, waiting for the great mission.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And I know that I am not alone because Mary, like any mother, is in the next room, doing chores and preparing lunch for all of us, God’s family.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And I do it responsibly for my own good, for the health of my city, for my loved ones, and for the good of my brother, whom you have put beside me, asking me to take care of him in the garden of life…
I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the silence of Nazareth, I pledge to pray, to read, study, meditate, be useful for small jobs, in order to make our home more beautiful and more welcoming.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the night, in communion of prayer with the many sick, the lonely and all the caregivers, I will wait for the dawn to sing your mercy again and tell everyone that, in the storms, you have been my refuge.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And I don’t feel alone and abandoned, because you told me: I’m with you every day. yes, and especially in these days of confusion, O Lord, in which, if my presence is not necessary, I will reach everyone, only with the wings of prayer. Amen
Words of light in the darkness. Friends, stay safe in body and soul.
We are always United in Christ
We Friars in Ireland want to assure you that, although we can no longer celebrate together in our Franciscan churches, we are united with all of you in our hearts and in our prayers.
We are always one in Christ’s love and grace – nothing can break that bond!
Daily we pray for the sick, the fearful and all who are serving us most magnificently during this time.
We pray for you – please pray for us. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Self-Distance from Fear. Fight for Joy!
“There’s no shame in saying it out loud: I am fighting off fear these days like kicking back an attacker.
Because the only way the soul doesn’t get sick right now is to self-distance from fear — while having absolutely no distance between God’s heart and ours.
Because no news stories can steal the story of the joy found in the Good News – and if you let anything steal your joy, you let it steal your strength, and if there were ever days to fight for joy, these are the days.
All social-distancing right now is actually social-togetherness: keeping our distance from each other is the gift we give each other to get through this together.
We all get to change how we live,
So others get a chance to live.
Acting like you have the virus and keeping clear of people
is how to act like Jesus toward others right now.
Though we are in uncharted waters — the One we follow walks on water.
Though these days are unparalleled in recent history — the One we cling to stands at the Crossroads of all of history so we are unshakeable.
Though we are sheltering in place — the One we hope in is our safe shelter and always dwelling place. All is well.
Though we may be here at home, we are praying about the world, to the One who holds the whole word, and this is our act of loving the whole world.
As we get to self-isolate — we can’t isolate ourself from the needs of those who don’t get this privilege because of poverty and lack of space.
Lord, we place in your care the poor who suffer the most now, all who work in healthcare, in home care, in delivery, in groceries, in essential services.
We interceed with gratitude for all those who step outside of their safe zones so none of us weather this crisis alone. Amen”
Friends, let us take to heart from the words of Pope Francis:
Serentiy in our Storms
“By ourselves we flounder; we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him 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. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.
“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. Lord, 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” And we, together with Peter, will “cast all our cares onto you, for you care for us”.
(Special Prayer for the World, 27th March 2020)
“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”
― John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings