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From Kinshasa: from panic to the comfort of faith

What is happening to us?

We fell asleep in one world and woke up in another. The world that seemed to be sunny, became dark. Suddenly the joy that comes from our routine - our job, our physical and loving contact with our brothers and sisters - is interrupted: We are in a panic, confined by a virus of which we know almost nothing. Cuddles, hugs, affectionate kisses suddenly become weapons of contagion and the fact of not visiting relatives and friends becomes an act of love: alas, it is terrible! Suddenly this epidemic, which was not part of our daily life, becomes part of it. It has come to bring us down from our pedestal. "The so-called all-powerful man appears in his raw reality. There he is naked. His weakness and vulnerability are glaring”. (Interview with Cardinal Sarah on 04/13/2010: this epidemic disperses the smoke of illusion).

The screams arise from everywhere, and this is scary because no country is spared. We have the impression that humanity is falling apart, that life is coming to an end. Every day we are told a large number has become infected and thousands have died - what pain! We realize how close death is. There are cries of anguish at a situation for which there is not yet a plausible remedy, but also cries of solidarity coming from a humanity that seeks to be reassured, a humanity that is discovering itself in its weakness.

Yes, the world still goes on and continues to be beautiful. The virus only cages, only places in confinement, humans. I think Coronavirus is sending us a strong message: “You are not essential - nature manages well without you. And even more: When you come back, remember that you are just the stewards…. not the masters”. The fact of being confined to the house, I hope, will allow us to turn to the essential things, to discover the importance of our relationships with God, and the centrality of prayer in human existence. And in the awareness of our fragility, we can entrust ourselves to God and to his paternal mercy.

How do we live this moment in a formation community?

Faced with this situation, we see that some people are panicking, and others are afraid. Others refuse to see the obvious, they say to themselves: this is a bad moment that will pass, everything will start again as before. But as a Christian, do we have to live as if we have come to an impasse? I dare believe not. To live this moment well, we must start with some basic questions: What should I do in this special period of confinement? This will help us to face reality and to define the essential things. Should I remain in fear or panic? Should I just wait for the situation to go away on its own or for others to find a solution? Or, quite simply, in this silence, this confinement, can I offer to the world, to all the people I love, that which is most precious to me as a Christian: my prayer. Certainly, prayer is a gift from God (Cf. Catechism no. 2559-2561), an impulse from the heart, a simple glance cast towards the sky, a cry of gratitude and love in times of trials and times of joy. (Cf. St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Autobiography C 25r).

Our founder Father Pierre Coudrin who lived such a moment of confinement in adoration - during the French Revolution - reveals to us so well the secret of prayer in difficult times of life and he tells us in simple words: “I was shut up there for five whole months, without being able to go out or to confession. But the Lord gave me to grace not to experience any anxiety, and I enjoyed great peace of conscience. It is certain that at that time God was giving me great graces.” (Cf. Account of the vision of the Good Father at La Motte d'Usseau between May and October 1792).

As a community, we started with this basic question: What should we do as a community in this special period of confinement? This allowed us to move from a moment of generalized fear to a moment of internalization from which we drew spiritual strength. We took a whole morning of meditation to think about it, using as a support the story of the experience of the Good Father at la Motte d'Usseau (cited above).

The sharing of each one was spiritually rich, full of mutual encouragement and constituted a new vision to apprehend this difficult time. This has helped us and continues to help us as a community, in this difficult situation, to rediscover our vocation to prayer, to live the adoration during which we can intercede for the whole people: the sick, the deceased, the caregivers: nurses, doctors as well as volunteers and everyday heroes. Not having the possibility of celebrating masses in our parishes with our Christians, we also discovered a new way to live and share our spiritual paternity as priests, through social networks, through sharing the Word of God all around the world.

Does the light of the risen shine in our hearts?

Is it a coincidence that we should celebrate Easter in such a context? Is it not true that Christ bore our pain and was pierced for our transgressions … and by his wounds that we are healed? (Cf. Isaiah 53, 4-5; 1 Peter 2, 24). Celebrating Easter in such a context is a grace. A grace which must make faith grow in us: “do not be afraid” (Cf. Matthew 28:10), and which must make us turn to God who hears our prayers: “I heard your prayer, I saw your tears. I will heal you” (2 Kings 20:5b). The light of the resurrection must therefore bring us the conviction and the hope that all is not lost, all is not finished, there is reason to believe in life and to choose life (Dt. 30, 19 ), to place our hope in the Master of life (John 11, 25; 14, 16), "He brings both death and life, He who heals us" (Cf. Dt 32,39), "It is He who changes the times and the seasons ”(Daniel 2, 20-21). One is reminded of the beautiful words of the splendid French song, Peuple de Frères, peuple du partage: "A sun will rise on our calvaries, hope inhabits the earth: the earth where the salvation of God will germinate. A sun will rise on our calvaries, our God makes his people live”.

Yes, the world that sinks in the dark today must rediscover the true light, the presence of the Risen One who rises in our night to give us life again. Meditating, on such a situation in the light of the resurrection, helps me to understand that we need the presence of Christ in our world in disarray, to heal us. Only a person who believes that Christ is alive and present, and who knows how to recognize his presence remains in him and Christ in him (cf. John 15: 4-7). Let us seek to recognize the presence of Christ, he is always present with us, yes, until the end of time (Cf. Matthew 28,20). He is with us in our moments of discouragement or despair like the disciples of Emmaus (Cf. Luke 24, 18-35), in our moments of doubt like Thomas (Cf. John 20, 19-31) and in our moments of concern and weeping like Mary Magdalene (Cf. John 20, 11-18).

Only his presence gives meaning to our life and to our multiple concerns. At the heart of our distress, the cries of our pain, it is he who suffers on our crosses and we pass without seeing it. In our nights of loneliness, in our evenings of abandonment, it is he who dies on our crosses and we pass without seeing him. At this time when evening is approaching and the day is already falling, we must therefore turn our eyes to the risen Lord and say to him: "stay with us" (Luke 24:29), because only his presence and his word are a real comfort for us in this special time. It is therefore time, with the grace of the Risen One, to set aside panic for the comfort of faith, fear for courage and to rekindle the hope of faith. God has not abandoned us.

Maxime Menga sscc





  • 1. Columban Crotty ha scritto il 05/21/2020 alle 12:16:

    Encouraging and hope-filled words. Thank you