Fear comes in certain moments as a thief and inhibits us, freezes us, cripples our efforts, and prevents us from being the best that we can be, especially during this trying time as we have faced and are facing the disease Covid-19 Virus. A number of us consider prayers to be relevant when grappling with these trying times as we are facing uncertainty in every sphere of life. The covid-19 virus has threatened the physical, emotional, and mental health of millions of people around the world. Amidst such a crisis our prayers alone can inspire our trust in God and increase our “confidence that he will surely help us”, just as in Exodus, Moses inspired the Israelites in crossing the Red Sea by his trust in God.
Our personal experiences with Covid-19 have been a very traumatic time for us. The Covid-19 outbreak in the Spiritan community of Manila has led to the sad and untimely death of Br. Valentine, the hospitalization of Fr. Quoc and Fr. Vinh, and the suffering of all the members of the community. After the recovery, we thanked God for his assistance and deliverance. All those who were healthy also thanked God for his mercy and love. We have seen Him as a loving and caring Father even in these moments of uncertainty and dread. This crisis has helped us discern God’s will in our decisions, especially amidst difficult phases of life. It provides us with a better understanding to follow God’s will. It also has kept us together to support one another and has turned our community into a home of fraternal sharing and authentic love (Vita Consecrate, no 42). Besides, we have received a lot of encouragement, sincere condolences, and spiritual and material assistance.
This pandemic has helped us put our faith in God. As we grapple with our emotions, we are also reminded to thank God and appreciate life. Such experiences of the pandemic help us grow in maturity and our critical response to them. It provides us with an eye-opener to see God’s constant help and care for us now and in the future. All of us, as individuals and as a community, shared that God’s grace is much needed, especially during the pandemic. In this unprecedented health crisis, which is also an economic issue and a moral test, we have all experienced grief, stress, and uncertainty. We have experienced dread and fear at the anger of death. It helps us sing out our emotions and see our own experiences critically with new dimensions of hope and perseverance. We also pray sincerely for help, and healing, and remind ourselves of God’s providence and care. In the end, we can sing of hope, of the “certainty of a hearing”; lament will be soon turned to salvation and joy, confident that even in the darkest of night, there will be a dawn breaking.
I believe that only God has the power to roll the “rock” of Covid-19 and carry us through times of uncertainty. We have challenges before us, but the grace of God will help us overcome them. In the fight against the pandemic, each person can use his / her reason but not to obscure faith. This is not a time to run from God; but is a time to run to God as a deliverer from fear. Therefore, do not be afraid, for Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, the Lord is with us all the time. There are indeed many dark spots and unpleasant happenings in our world but in Christ, we have an anchor. Faith in Christ is the surest way to live a fruitful life here on earth and to have eternal bliss in the world to come.
We, the Spiritan family of Manila, are all although foreigners, far from our home, are ready to face the dangers of sickness and uncertainties of life. We have expressed it with our deep faith and dedicated life. Therefore, I believe that we can learn many things from the time of the pandemic. Firstly, we thank God who has helped us overcome the obstacles and try to make sense of what has happened to us. It is said, “faith is seeing light with the heart when the eyes see darkness.” Secondly, we need to acknowledge that our life is a gift and therefore we can share the gift of faith, become witnesses of the Gospel, and missionary servants in the backgrounds and contexts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thirdly, we can express our deep love for the Church, for the mission, and for the people.
Sch. Joseph Vu Tai Tiep CSSp