My God, My Mercy…
St. Vincent Pallotti
To All the Superiors and Missionary Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate
On our calendars, spring has just begun. Outside appears as if nothing has happened…, blue skies embracing the earth, sun's rays peeking into the windows bringing warmth, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and a warm spring breeze delicately blows around. We all love spring because it comes to us in light colors, with hope, with a smile, with new life and warmth. Such is a nature: faithful to God’s law and grows and develops according to its own natural rhythm.
When this year began and spring spontaneously arrived, not many recognized that it brought us newness and freshness, gift of great strength and of life. It seems that spring also did not know what was going on in this world…, that the virus has come and brought us illness and death. After spring, we know that summer will come and - as Italians say - I believe that Andrá tutto bene…everything will be alright. Everything will be alright because after days of darkness, suffering and death there will be Resurrection! Risen Christ, who is with us every day, until the end of the world. (cf. Mt 28: 20) will bring us life and hope again.
Although the whole world speaks about the danger of the COVID-19, which is a growing problem in the entire world, with the increasing number of deaths, deteriorated economies, empty streets and closed schools and churches, about the quarantine, overcrowded hospitals, - there are also many positive things happening. We observe a new leap and awakening in the society. There is a growing number of volunteers who are helping in many ways, especially the sick, lonely and elderly. The people begin to value more life and family. They are dedicating more time to prayer, adoration, reading the Bible and participating in the Eucharist, even on-line. More and more people are reciting the Word of God from the daily Gospel and singing religious songs. There is hunger for God and need for another person! People are freed from egoism and selfishness and thinking more about others than themselves, often sharing what little they have. They search for God and the presence of another person. Their life has started to have new taste, new sense.
This imposed stop has turned our minds and hearts to God, acknowledging that God is in all. It is a chance to return to Him, otherwise what else we can do? We cannot go to work, we cannot go out with friends, evangelize outside, organize meetings or continue our apostolate. This situation has also showed how small, fragile and powerless a man is if he has to face real danger, the same man, who God made a ruler over the works of his hands and puts all at his feet (cf. Ps 8).
It seems that our world, although still fearful because of this dramatic situation, slowly returns to the natural order, seeking for God and begging for mercy. Many are asking, is it a punishment for sins or maybe is this the end of the world? Undoubtedly, man has departed a long way from God, neglecting God’s words and warnings, the teachings of the Church, building a new order in opposition to the Ten Commandments, often standing for death and evil and not for beauty and life. This is certainly a time of desert, of choice, time of responsibility… “See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the Lord, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them, tell you today that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you. I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, 20by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the Lord swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
Dear Sisters, in this unique time let us say our YES to God and choose life. Let us not waste the present moment, let us not waste the present Lent. Let's not be indifferent or terrified. We shall not just wait that everything will return back to norm, but we need to be attentive and creative. May we every day be inspired by the faith of Mary and evangelical ideas of Vincent Pallotti. May we also be witnesses of Christ for one another, showing love, bringing support and strength. More than ever before each one of us need today special gestures of love, sensitivity, respect, kindness, simple care and normal loving presence. In special way let us embrace with compassion and care our elderly and sick sisters and those who are near. Sometimes a little sincere gesture can change our and their whole life.
May we also be near to our family members with our prayers and memory. May our deeds and actions be marked by selfless service and pure love. Let us share what we have, offering our prayer, help or service to our neighbors and those who need our helping hand. And be strong with a strength of faith, hope and love rooted in God alone.
Please follow all regulations, which comes from the government, Church and medical authorities. I know how hard it is for so many sisters, to live without daily Holy Mass and no sacraments. At the same time, let us give thanks and pray for those priests who still have courage to serve us despite of the threat. Where possible, I ask Superiors to take care of consecrated hosts, especially where there is a possibility to distribute Holy Communion by the Sisters. No one knows how long this situation will last.
Another thing is that we need to be aware of our financial situation. The economy all over the world has gone down considerably.
Therefore, during this time, we should not make any decisions or actions connected with extraordinary and high expenses in our Provinces. Also, we need to reflect on if we can continue with those unfinished projects or constructions, which still require a lot of financial contributions. In the spirt of Gospel and solidarity with others let us keep a simple style of life. I ask you to live sparingly, with prudence and awareness. Therefore, plan wisely, save more and not waste anything: especially water, gas, electricity and food.
I would also like to inform you that from now until July 2020, we have cancelled many of our activities such as different meetings, visits and visitations.
Concluding, I wish to express my heartful words of thanks for your prayers, testimony, support and solidarity with Pope Francis and the entire Church. Special words of “Thank you” I wish to express for the faithful service of our nurses and physicians who are working tirelessly saving human lives.
Let us be united and pray together with the words of St. Sister Faustina: Jesus of Love and Mercy - I trust in You, asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
In adoration before the Crucified Christ
and in hope of Resurrection,
Sr. Izabela Świerad SAC
Jersey City, 26 March 2020