“We all have been made vulnerable, but with prayer, creativity and solidarity we can be a blessing”
Dear brothers and sisters:
In celebrating the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, custodian of the Holy Family and protector of the Order, from Maracaibo, Venezuela, I invite the entire Augustinian Recollect Family to get united in living with faith the crisis the world is in due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Let us ask, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, that the Lord deliver us from the epidemic and strengthen us in the Spirit.
1. World crisis
In these times of crisis, the governments of the countries at risk have declared a state of alarm and have taken drastic isolation measures to prevent mass contagion. Both Pope Francis and all the bishops have made these decisions their own and acted accordingly. That is what we are asked to do: support what the authorities and society recommend us, assuming the restrictions and sanitary indications.
But let's go further. Let's discover this difficult time as a time of grace. The virus holds us back, the economy falters, and our securities fade away. Let us give ourselves a moment to ponder on the stability we think we lost, and let us rediscover our need for humanity and meaning. As pastoral work and activities come to a standstill, this Lenten season provides us with a favorable opportunity to return to the heart, calm our spirit and go out to meet Christ.
Pope Francis has just told us on past 15th of March:
Consequently, the coronavirus offers us the opportunity to contemplate Christ on the cross of those who suffer, pray for them and practice mercy. And it also gives us the opportunity to evangelize, and to bear witness to our hope. Powered by faith and love let us strive to create communion and brotherhood in the community. Let us dream of new ways of encounter and relationship in the family and in society.
2. Prayer and creativity
We all have been made vulnerable by this human and social crisis, but with prayer, creativity and solidarity we can be a blessing to those people who suffer from the coronavirus isolated from others and in solitude. There are many people who suffer, victims of human selfishness; let's not forget them.
Where there is charity and love, there the Lord is present. Concern and interest in the concrete person, both in the religious community and in families, creates human warmth, encourages and helps to face difficulties.
Let us be creative to offer another way to accompany the person suffering from the disease and even to develop the apostolate. Let's look for new ways to communicate with the faithful through social networks, phone calls, WhatsAppmessages ... Let's invite everyone to be united humanly and spiritually.
Our strength at this moment is the prayer entrusted to the Father of mercy. I ask that each community organize prayers and find a way for the entire Augustinian Recollect Family to be in prayer asking the Lord for the health of those suffering from the epidemic and to free us from contagion.
We trust in the prayer of our contemplative sisters and in that of all brothers and sisters:
We thank the Augustinian Family (Order of Saint Augustine, Order of the Discalced Augustinians and Order of Augustinian Recollects) for the invitation to participate in the day of prayer on March 20. A prayer has been composed for the occasion which can be used in the liturgical celebrations of the community or, in the case of the laity, as a prayer of the family or of its members.
3. Saint Joseph, protector and dreamer
Saint Joseph reminds us of the importance of silence to find ourselves and allow ourselves to be found by God. And, in a world in which we tend to complicate our lives and create so many needs, the holy Patriarch shows us the beauty of simplicity and the joy of poverty of spirit. In a world where we seek a rational explanation for everything, he teaches us to discover the importance of gratuitousness and contemplation.
At the beginning of his pontificate, seven years ago, Pope Francis also appealed to him:
In order to promote in each country the care for creation and the effective practice of solidarity and charity, the Order of Augustinian Recollects established the international solidarity network ARCORES. And now, when we have just decided to transfer the community of the San Ezequiel house, together with the Institute of Augustinology, the Augustinus publishing house and the ARCORES headquarters, to the to the previous provincial curia of the defunct Province of Saint Joseph along Huesca Street, no. 33 in Madrid, the General Council has given to this new house the name of House Saint Joseph. We trust in the protection of our holy Protector so that the Lord continue to move hearts and transform lives.
May Saint Joseph teach us to always trust in the Lord, who even instructs us in the dead of night (s. 15). We ask the Saint to protect the Order and help us to learn to live in simplicity of heart and to dream of a future open to the Spirit so that we all may have one mind and one heart directed towards God.